Symptom HEAVY PERIODS
Solution YARROW (Achillea millefolium)
How to use it: Take two droppers of tincture every 30 minutes until bleeding slows.
Why it works: Yarrow is the go-to herb for menstrual bleeding, says Gladstar. “It slows excessive bleeding, relieves pelvic congestion, reduces cramping and flushes out the liver so estrogen and progesterone are processed more efficiently,” she says.
Symptom LACK OF CONCENTRATION; LOSS OF MEMORY
Solution WATER HYSSOP (Bacopa monnieri)
How to use it: Take one 500-milligram capsule twice daily. Foster suggests starting off slowly—perhaps with a 100-milligram dose twice per day—and increasing the dosage in 100-milligram increments up to the recommended 1,000 milligrams a day. “If the herb makes you feel spacey, contact your Ayurvedic practitioner for specific guidance on dosing,” he advises. “You might be taking too much too quickly.”
Why it works: Used in Western European, Chinese and Indian herbal traditions, water hyssop is called brahmi in Sanskrit, which means “consciousness.” It can help ease agitation if you feel particularly distracted before or during your period; it’s also good for everyday focus. “Bacopa monnieri can sharpen concentration, memory and overall intelligence, and it also improves longevity,” says Foster. “Its ability to boost mental performance [by enhancing nerve impulses between cells in the brain] has been documented in multiple studies in the United States and abroad.”
Solution KAVA KAVA (Piper methysticum)
How to use it: Take one dropperful of tincture in warm water as needed (not to exceed three doses a day). You can take it daily, but not for more than a consecutive three-month period.
Why it works: Kava kava is native to Polynesia and Melanesia, where it was traditionally used as an intoxicating herb for ceremonies and celebration. In small doses, though, it can calm anxiety. “It relaxes the musculature and clears the mind,” explains Gladstar, who often prescribes the herb for everyday stressors like airplane flights, public speaking, interpersonal confrontation and PMS symptoms. “The herb was often used to calm combatants within tribes or families,” she says. “It is said that when Kava enters the heart, there can be no hate. It helps dispel frustrations so you can work through the conflict and find peaceful solutions.”
Contraindications: Kava kava should not be taken with alcohol, or used by anyone with hepatitis or other serious liver diseases. Avoid during pregnancy.