Hormones are responsible for many of your body’s daily functions. They impact your mood, energy, appetite, metabolism, sleep, fertility, sex drive, and more. When there is too much or too little of a particular hormone, this is commonly referred to as a hormonal imbalance. I'm going to share how raspberry leaf benefits hormone balancing along side a variety of my other favourite herbs.
Hormonal imbalances can show up in various ways. In the short term, you can experience physical and mental health issues. These can disrupt your everyday life and feel like you are in a constant uphill battle. In the long term, these issues can progress to more life-threatening health conditions, like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and potentially cancer.
Many women deal with hormonal imbalances at some point in their lives (like during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause), but the most common hormonal imbalance is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS can affect the entire lifespan of an estimated 20% of women worldwide. While the cause of PCOS is unknown, it is thought that the key factors involved include increased androgen production, insulin resistance, inflammation, and chronic stress.
Photo by Cristina Gareau
There are several signs that your hormones may be out of balance. Women may experience:
- irregular periods or no periods at all
- extremely uncomfortable, heavy, debilitating periods
- weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- weight loss or lack of appetite
- excess hair growth down the center of the body (dark, terminal hair on the face, chest, stomach, inner thighs, etc.)
- acne or dry skin
- hair loss or thinning hair
- dandruff or scaly scalp
- vaginal dryness
- pain during sex
- decreased sex drive
- night sweats
- increased urination and thirst
- indigestion or constipation
- feeling tired all the time
- mood swings
In addition to a nutritious diet, regular movement, sleep, and stress management, incorporating herbs is a great way to support hormonal balance and overall health.
I recommend tea as a method to incorporate herbs to my clients with PCOS because it is an enjoyable, simple addition anyone can add to a healthy lifestyle. Making a cup of tea can be a meditative practice. I always have a cup of herbal tea with me when I am working or relaxing. It is a small but powerful act of self-care and an opportunity to slow down and be grateful.
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
Plus, over time, once the habit is built, you will become accustomed to taking care of your hormones without necessarily thinking about it. It will become a daily occurrence that seamlessly fits into your life. Be patient, though, as it can take an average of 66 days to create a new habit. But you may even look forward to tea time! I know I do. This certainly seems less complicated than adding another pill to my list of supplements!
Here are some of my top suggested herbs for healthy hormone levels:
1. Raspberry Leaf – can help alleviate menstrual cramps and is also a source of iron
2. Stinging Nettle Leaf – beneficial for supporting iron levels and reducing inflammation
3. Lemon Balm – may improve digestion, reduce anxiety, and support better sleep
4. Spearmint – may decrease high androgen levels which cause facial hair growth and hair loss
5. Valerian Root – can reduce anxiety and support better sleep
6. Lavender – may reduce stress and anxiety
7. Green Tea - can reduce inflammation, stress hormones, and estrogen while increasing progesterone
8. Ashwagandha - an adaptogen that can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
Why Raspberry Leaf Benefits May Be an Answer to Your Period Cramps
In particular, anecdotal evidence has described a few raspberry leaf benefits for menstruators experiencing premenstrual syndrome (also known as PMS). Raspberry leaf contains high amounts of tannins and flavonoids which have antioxidant activity. It has been used to reduce menstrual cramps for centuries. Animal studies have shown that raspberry leaf can act as a relaxant in the gastrointestinal tract. This can result in reduced cramping during menstruation.
Other raspberry leaf benefits include combating anemia from its iron content. This is important for all menstruators, but especially if you have more frequent or heavy bleeds. Many iron supplements can cause constipation and are not readily absorbed. This is why I recommend that my clients with anemia obtain iron from plant-based whole food sources, first. In addition, I recommend supplementing with iron sourced from whole foods, if necessary.
Raspberry Leaf Benefits During Pregnancy
Raspberry leaf benefits can continue during pregnancy! While some herbs are not safe to take while pregnant, raspberry leaf has been shown to reduce the length of labor time. Studies suggest this is due to raspberry leaf’s ability to increase blood flow to the uterus and strengthen the uterine walls. It may also reduce nausea and vomiting in the first trimester. However, its safety during the first trimester is still debated.
Raspberry leaf also includes vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B6, C, E, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and calcium.
How to Use Raspberry Leaf Tea
Raspberry leaf tea can be enjoyed at any time in your cycle, but especially in the days leading up to and during your period.This way it can help to relieve some PMS symptoms, such as cramping. It can also help combat the iron lost from bleeding.
I tend to start drinking raspberry leaf tea a few days before I expect my period to arrive to prepare for days 1 and 2 which are often the heaviest flow days.
One to three cups a day is sufficient to obtain its raspberry leaf benefits. It is suggested to keep it to one cup a day during pregnancy.
Potential Side Effects
While raspberry leaf tea is generally safe for most people, some people may experience loose stools or increased urination.
Always check with your healthcare provider before using herbs or supplements.
Dr. Dylan Cutler, PhD
Plant-based PCOS Wellness Consultant
Simply start balancing your hormones with our PERIOD TEA blend crafted with Raspberry leaf, Stinging Nettle Leaf and Lemon Balm to ease and support the ebbs and flows of your cycle.
Ease into your menstrual cycle feeling supported –– period. This tea unites supportive raspberry leaf, stinging nettle leaf and lemon balm to help you balance your flow, relieve menstrual cramps and reduce bloating. Create a new, mindful menstruation ritual and... read more