• March 2013

Teas That Heal: Natural Remedies for Our Womanly Ailments

By Lyndsey DePalma
Founder and President
House of Steep

Photos by Anna Gibbs Photography

Women are special.

So special, in fact, that we have our very own medical discipline dedicated exclusively to our beautiful anatomy. Because women tend to carry a large portion of life’s responsibilities—at home and in our professional lives—the resulting stress can play havoc with our overall health.

The good news is that a bounty of natural remedies are available to help alleviate, if not eliminate, what ails us. Consider the following:

Menstrual Cramps

For those monthly spasms, try the following:

  • Regulate an irregular cycle: Try a warm, healing tea of chaste berry, or the Chinese herb dong quai. Both are known to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle.
  • Reduce heavy bleeding: Goldenseal or yarrow have been used to treat this issue.
  • Alleviate PMS: Catnip, chaste berry, dong quai, and raspberry are known to alleviate symptoms of crankiness, irritability … you know the drill.
  • Ease cramps: Cramp bark is widely used to reduce cramps before and during menstruation, and chamomile, an antispasmodic agent, also helps relieve cramps during.

Menopause

No two ways about it, the side effects are a drag. Calm the hot flashes with teas and herbs made of these herbs:

  • Black cohash
  • Dong quai
  • Sage
  • Chaste berry

Pregnancy

Depending on the stage of pregnancy, certain herbs are more helpful than others. And there are times to be cautious about what you ingest. Here are teas to consider:

  • Morning sickness: Ginger and mint are safe herbs and terrific teas to remedy those morning (afternoon, and evening) barfy waves.
  • Stay peaceful and calm while Baby grows inside: Enjoy a cuppa chamomile, or infuse your warm water with lemon balm or oatstraw.
  • Heartburn: During pregnancy, the placenta produces the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus. This hormone also relaxes the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, allowing gastric acids to seep back up, which causes that unpleasant burning sensation. The discomfort can be cooled by a variety of herbs including spearmint, chamomile, marshmallow root, lemon balm, or red raspberry leaf.

  • To stay caffeine-free: Rooibos is a tea that many expecting mothers enjoy.
  • Enjoy in moderation: Chamomile (and jasmine) are great, but are reported to lower blood pressure.
  • Avoid: During pregnancy, it’s best to avoid teas containing licorice or anise, catnip, juniper, kava, papaya leaf, red clover, bergamot (used to flavor Earl Grey) damiana, hyssop, or cramp bark.
    Of course, because every pregnancy is a little different, always consult with your doctor before enjoying these or other herbs.

Urinary and Vaginal Infections

These annoying, often painful, infections can get the best of any woman. To remedy them, try these teas:

  • Pelvic infections: These have been shown to respond to calendula and pau d’ arco.
  • Urinary infections: Try cranberry, dandelion, raspberry, rosehips, and thyme.
  • Vaginal infections: Try treating with goldenseal, juniper berries, and pau d’ arco.
  • Yeast infections: These have been shown to respond to blessed thistle, chaste berry, cinnamon, dong quai, ginger, goldenseal, pau d’ arco, rosemary, and sage.

Heart Disease and Cancer

These diseases are the leading causes of death in women, and while tea, massage, and de-stressing can’t ward off all that ails us, it can help keep us calm, clear, and in touch with our bodies. The following teas can help, too.

  • To reduce blood pressure: hibiscus
  • To drink in more cancer-reducing properties: green tea

You’ll notice some redundancies in these female health herbs.

Often times the same herb can heal and tone the cells in certain areas of the body. For all the other areas of our lives that may not necessarily relate to our lady parts, here are a few suggestions of other key herbs to keep in your desk drawer to help you juggle all that you do and manage.

  • Catnip, ginseng, kava kava, lavender, valerian, and yerba mate are all known for their impact on stress and tension.
  • Eyebright, lemon balm, peppermint, and yarrow are also recognized for their spirit-lifting ability.
  • If the winter blues and all that you manage are getting to you, try this month’s blend, which is sure to have you back to your best juggling self in no time. Our March House of Steep blend-of-the-month is a stress-freeing blend of roasted yerba mate, catnip, eyebright, and lemon balm.

Our best advice: Hang out with your friends, and relax!

Researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pooled data from 148 studies on health outcomes and social relationships—every research article on the topic they could find, involving more than 300,000 men and women across the developed world—and found that those with poor social connections had, on average, 50 percent higher odds of death in the study’s follow-up period (an average of 7.5 years) than people with more robust social ties. Read more here.

If nothing else, the best insurance for staying healthy is to hang out with the ones you love, and engage in the activities that you love, with indulgent regularity.

Whether it be sipping delicious tea with girlfriends, soaking in a warm herbal bath, knitting, or working out—relaxing along with natural remedies can help you feel better no matter what time of the month it is!

Here’s to your good health!

Please note: These seeds of wisdom cannot take the place of medical advice. We invite you to try them out if you’re open to alternative modalities. Be aware that results can, and do, vary.


About Lyndsey DePalma and the House of Steep

Lyndsey DePalma is the founder of the new Arlington, VA, tea house and reflexology studio, House of Steep, where visitors discover the treasure that is tea and the power of reflexology to heal and harmonize.

Before coming up with the concept for House of Steep, DePalma yearned to find a place to relax, and just be, for a while each day. Not satisfied with any of the existing answers and armed with some entrepreneurial hard-wiring and a respect for natural healing, DePalma left her corporate career in human resources to bridge the gap.

Since October of 2010, House of Steep has been taking up residence in DePalma’s heart and will become the ultimate destination for busy corporate citizens, casual connections, bridal parties, street shoppers, believers in alternative healing, moms and grandmoms, yogis and yoginis, consultants, crafters, lovers, and the rest of us.

For more information, visit www.houseofsteep.com.

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