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Menstruation: The Flow and Ebb of Female Embodiment

Menstruation: The Flow and Ebb of Female Embodiment

The Flow and Ebb of Female Embodiment 

The mystery persists

Evolutionary biologists have mostly failed to identify a single uncontested benefit of human menstruation. To primitive cultures it seems to have been a harmful impact on the survival odds of the individual and ultimately the species. Menses and the blood’s distinctive odour would have imperiled a ground-dwelling human female because most predators have a superb olfactory sense. Also the radical hormonal flip flop that intiates human menses creates conditions within the breasts, ovaries and uterus that over time predisposes the cells making up their linings to cancer and other diseases. There is no reason to doubt that ancestral women did not experience disease in their reproductive organs that were seriously diminishing to a group’s chance of survival.

The many drawbacks for survival with menstruation still confounds biologists, however we can conclude that Mother Nature rarely burdens a species with a vexatious attribute unless it is balanced with a positive offset of greater value. “None of the known features of female mammalian reproductive physiology require mentruation as an ineluctable by-product. If menstruation were both costly and functionless, natural selection would have eliminated it long ago. “ Margie Profet

Perhaps we can find solace in the idea that the reductionist paradigm of science still cannot unravel the mystery of Menses and it still represents a manifestation of the Divine feminine in which we may collectively discover wisdom and healing.

From curse to sacred

In ancient times when there was limited knowledge of human biology, menstruation was perceived as supernatural and mystical and in some instances women were cast out as cursed or untouchable. Men feared the power that menstrual blood bestowed upon women. It was considered mysterious or magical and used in in spells, rituals and wish making.

Many ancient cultures associated menstruation with the moon, as their menstrual cycles were in sync with the moon’s monthly cycle. In Native American culture, women who were menstruating were viewed reverentially, as holding great spiritual power. These women were given an opportunity to remove themselves from their daily routines to revitalise and seize their spiritual energy. A woman’s body was perceived as a bridge between two worlds and within her body there exists a direct link to the source of creation.

A pragmatic view is that elders of some tribes instituted menstrual restrictions for rational hygienic reasons, because menstrual blood is a rich medium, encouraging the growth of pathogenic organisms and its proper disposal was regulated to keep predators at bay. The powerful taboos associated with menses amongst indigenous peoples have persisted until modern times. One theory suggests that menstruation was beneficial to the human species because it provided men with the only reliable clue with which they could calculate whether a woman was imminently fertile.

The womb renews itself every month

On an energetic level and even a physical level, period blood is designed to nourish and give life itself.  It is not only sacred and therefore powerful when used in ceremonies; it is so vital that it has the capacity to heal. The energetic properties of this blood are also that of renewal, rebirth, creation and life. On a metaphysical level, period blood is imbued with all of our genetic information, which includes memory and strengths and knowledge.  It also carries the entire ancestral lineage that created us.  ]

Ancient cultures that understood this were known to use menstrual blood as a medicine for people who were ill and a way to revive people, animals and plants that were ailing. In fact ancient cultures used to place this blood on the third eye and even chakras in order to open a person up to this multidimensional personal and ancestral information. Utilizing the blood in ceremonies helped to access ancient knowledge and healing for the self as well as healing ancestral wounds. 

The female rhythm

To be female is a wonderful and multifaceted way to navigate the world because feminine energy is expansive, intuitive, creative and life affirming. To be gifted with the capacity to create new life and nurture with sensitivity, empathy and emotional intelligence while simultaneously being resilient, adept and directed is a formidable combination. Indeed the evolving cyclic nature of female physiology necessitates she negotiates many trials of endurance; menstruation, childbirth, child rearing and menopause. We, as women bleed for an average of 10 years of our lifetime and that means an average of 3,500 days of our life menstruating. Everyone’s experience is different. Not everyone who gets their period is female and not all females get their periods. Menstruation doesn’t define womanhood, but it should still be celebrated as a shared source of power.

A time for shedding and Self-reflection

Our modern world doesn’t revolve around Nature’s circadian rhythms of the sun and the moon and accordingly most women have lost their innate connection with the cycles of nature and the cycles of the sun, moon and stars. In early times women’s cycles were in sync with the cycle of the moon.  Healthy women ovulated when the moon was full and bled on the new moon and often synchronized with one another, bleeding at the same time due to their interactive pheromones. In ancient cultures, this time was sacred and women would retreat to be together nourishing themselves with healing herbs and surrendering happily to the whole process of menstruation.  Menstruation afforded women the opportunity to create zones that men dared not trespass plus the camraderie and freedom from the daily grind.

The moon becoming full is a time when the energy is expanding outward and is externally focused and ripe for creation.  The new moon is a time where the energy is retracting inward and internally focused and ripe for introspection. It works the same way for women’s cycles.  It was and still is enormously helpful for women to adhere to these cycles of outward focus and inward focus and the time of the period be devoted to introspection, reflecting and down time as much as possible. The more we embrace and embody our unique expression of the Divine feminine and the more we adhere to the natural cycles taking place within our body along with the messages they speak to us from within, the more pleasant our periods will be. 

The keepers of herbal wisdom

How fortunate that most women also come with the innate ability to tune into the rhythms of the natural world and respond so positively to the healing, nourishing support and succour that the plant world has to offer. Women’s use of herbs dates back to the very roots of herbalism. Traditionally, the keepers of herbal knowledge have always been women, practicing in the community though unlike their male counterparts, rarely they were acknowledged or published. The Benedictine abbess, visionary and healer, Hildegard of Bingen was an exception, who even prescribed menstrual blood as a cure for leprosy, to harness its fertile and nourishing potency: “He should make a bath…and mix in menstrual blood, as much as he can get and get into the bath”

The first humans intuitively nibbled on leaves and fruits for healing and there is no doubt that women innately understood how to select the exact efficacious herbs to relieve menstrual disorders. Afterall the window way back then for female fertility was brief and necessitated keen consideration to protect the prospects of new life. For more than 2,500 years, chaste tree has been used to treat menstrual disorders. Hippocrates (460-377 b.c.) wrote, “If blood flows from the womb, let the woman drink dark wine in which the leaves of the chaste tree have been steeped.” He believed and was later supported by the second century physician Galen, that menses was a necessary cleansing that flushed poisonous humours from a woman’s body. In the first century a.d., Pliny stated; “The trees furnish medicines that promote urine and menstruation.”


Physiology of Menstruation

The regular event of menstruation does not occur exclusively within the reproductive system of women, but demonstrates the body’s extroardinary holistic integration of all its systems, especially the endocrine system. As usual, there is so much more going on with most things than meets the eye, a woman’s cycle is not just affecting her womb but is affecting her entire body as well as her mind and emotions.  The onset of one menstrual flow to the beginning of the next is a cascade of hormonal events controlled by the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and ovaries. During menstruation, the body is not only sloughing off the unfertilized lining of the uterus but also trying to move impurities down and out of the system through the reproductive organs.

A healthy cycle in a nutshell

Menstruation occurs in the absence of fertilisation and is the shedding of the upper portion of the endometrium in response to withdrawal of progesterone following regression of the corpus luteum in the late secretory phase. Menses marks the beginning of a new menstrual cycle. 

A healthy cycle follows a predictable pattern and is broken down into key phases: 

The period (menstruation): The shedding of the womb lining which leaves the body via the vagina. At this time levels of oestrogen and progesterone are low. Menstrual bleeding usually lasts between 2-7 days with 10-80ml of blood loss.

The follicular phase: The time between the first day of the period and ovulation, where an egg is released from an ovary. Oestrogen rises during the first half of the cycle as an egg prepares to be released. Ovulation usually happens mid-way through the cycle.

The luteal phase: The time between ovulation and before the start of the next period, when the body prepares for a possible pregnancy. Progesterone is produced and both oestrogen and progesterone are elevated. This phase is usually quite consistent in length - about 12-14 days.

The premenstrual phase: These are the days before the period and women can experience none, some or a number of the 150 recorded symptoms caused by the rapid drop in hormone levels at this time of the cycle.

When the cycle goes awry

Normally, menstruation occurs every month for thirty-five or forty years unless a women becomes pregnant; however too often the body is out of hormonal balance due to stress, illness, medications or poor dietary choices and the whole cycle can be disrupted. This is certainly the case in our modern times.

It is worth consideration that a majority of female disorders in the West are caused by our failure to understand the benefits of rest during the menstrual cycle. Every month women have the opportunity to cleanse and rejuvenate themselves naturally with herbs and their oils during this purification process, yet many don’t suitably modify their hyped, stress-prone lifestyle. 

The most common menstrual disorders are amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea menometrorrhagia and of course premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

1) Amenorrhea is an absence or abnormal cessation of menstruation that may be caused by emotional stress, strenuous physical activity, binge dieting, obesity, diabetes, heart disease or anatomical, hormonal or chromosomal abnormalities. Drugs such as corticosteroids and barbiturates can also disrupt the menstrual cycle. The low estrogen levels accompanying this condition lead to loss of bone mass.

2) The adverse symptoms of dysmenorrhea typically begin with the onset of menstrual flow and can persist for up to 72 hours, frequently peaking in the first 24 to 48 hours of the menstrual cycle. Dysmenorrhea is often associated with pelvic pain, but also nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, malaise, insomnia, and fatigue. Primary dysmenorrhea is a gynecological condition in the absence of any underlying abnormality. Secondary dysmenorrheic pain, on the other hand, originates from a handful of identifiable pathological conditions including endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids (myomas) and pelvic inflammatory disease. Primary dysmenorrhea is more common in adolescents, while secondary dysmenorrhea manifests later in life.

3) Menometrorrhagia is a condition marked by abnormally heavy, prolonged and irregular uterine bleeding. Women with this condition usually bleed more than 80ml during a menstrual cycle. The bleeding can be unexpected and frequent. Menometrorrhagia is actually a combination of two menstrual disorders: Menorrhagia, which is heavy uterine bleeding that occurs at regular intervals. Metrorrhagia is irregular bleeding, bleeding longer than eight days or bleeding outside the usual menstrual cycle. It may involve passing of large blood clots, having back and abdominal pain, feeling tired, weak or shortness of breath which may be signs that the excessive bleeding has reduced the amount of iron in the blood, leading to anemia.

4) Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a common issue that many women endure and is sometimes attributed to certain neurochemical changes in the brain. Physical symptoms include headache, migraines, fatigue, insomnia, fluid retention, breast tenderness, food cravings, weight gain, muscle aches, joint pain, abdominal cramps, skin eruptions and altered libido. Possible emotional changes include anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, depression, mood swings and crying spells. Intensity of symptoms may vary from month to month and woman to woman. Sometimes if symptoms are debilitating, medical doctors sometimes prescribe steroid hormones that have been associated with an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone.

Spasmodic: dysmenorrhea, chronic pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Excess/Inflammatory: cystitis, acute PID, vaginitis with pruritis, endometriosis

Congestive: uterine fibroids, vaginitis without pruritis, amenorrhea and ovarian cysts

Deficient/Prolapsed: prolapse, menometrorrhagia, enuresis 


Herbs to the rescue

Fortunately there are a lot of herbs that are indicated for the symptoms of all the problems listed. In this modern day there are several ways to deal with menstruation discomfort that includes anti-inflammatory drugs, however the plant world has much support and relief to offer without the side effects. Many herbs made into teas or taken as supplements can encourage regularity of periods, making them less painful and uncomfortable as well as relieve the emotional turmoil of PMS. A healthy adjustment to a woman’s diet is always wise to help alleviate problematic menstruation. A body operates and responds to change and stress much better when it gets the broad range of nutrition it needs which often means more whole foods, plant based food and less processed snacks.

Make a large teapot of herbal tea that includes any combination of the herbs listed, preferably with raspberry leaf as a base. Drink this throughout the day and commence taking this tea program from 3 days to a week (depending on severity of symptoms) prior to the start of the period.

Dong Quai or Angelica (angelica sinensis)

The root is indicated for menstrual irregularities and helps regulate the menstrual cycle. Dong Quai is commonly used to balance hormone excess and deficit and is excellent for treating absent or painful menstruation. It dilates the blood vessels and induces the period by improving blood flow to the pelvis as well as by stimulating the muscles in the uterus and triggering uterine contractions. Dong Quai helps relieve cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Black Cohosh (cimicifuga racemosa)

The root of black cohosh can successfully treat menstrual irregularity and difficulty. It stimulates menstruation and treats dysmenorrhea and is effective in balancing hormones and treating PMS. It relieves nerve pain and menstrual cramps with back pain.

Chamomile (matricaria recutita)

Chamomile is an antispasmodic herb that helps to relieve menstrual cramps, ease muscle pain and reduce inflammation. It is also helpful for associated headaches, stress, anxiety and insomnia.

Chaste Tree (vitex agnuscastus)

Chaste tree (the seeds) are widely used for gynecological applications. The herb stimulates the pituitary gland to regulate hormones and the menstrual cycle, improving the estrogen: progesterone ratio to restore normal menstrual flow. It can help with painful PMS symptoms and reduce fluid retention during menstruation.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)

Cinnamon is a great anti-inflammatory herb for period pain, especially when taken in the first few days of the cycle and can also be useful for slowing a heavy flow. Cinnamon is known to improve insulin sensitivity as well, which is very important for hormone balance.

Corn Silk (zea mays) 

Corn silk is diuretic and helps reduce fluid retention.

Cramp bark (viburnum opulus) 

Cramp bark helps relieve muscle spasms and pain and is certainly indicated for menstrual discomfort.

Dandelion (taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion acts as a natural diuretic and reduces bloating. It can help relieve menstrual issues and PMS symptoms as it facilitates the metabolism of estrogens. Dandelion is a primary liver herb and optimal liver function is critical for treating menstrual problems. One of the liver’s main jobs is detoxification, and through that process we eliminate waste like excess hormones through sweat, urine and bowel movements. A sluggish liver and also sluggish digestion can lead to estrogen dominance when these systems are overburdened, it can cause PMS symptoms and other more serious issues if left untreated.

Evening Primrose (oenothera biennis) 

Evening primrose oil, obtained from the seeds of Oenothera biennis, is used to provide essential fatty acids, especially gamma-linolenic acid. Several studies have found that this edible oil is effective for relieving PMS symptoms like cramps. Its omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids make it an anti-inflammatory solution that promotes hormone balance.

Feverfew (chrysanthemum parthenium)

Feverfew is helpful for inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual pain, headaches, and migraines.

Fennel (foeniculum vulgare)

Fennel is an antispasmodic herb that relieves abdominal cramping and bloating caused by excessive gas.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger helps relieve cramps by decreasing the production of prostaglandins, which constrict blood vessels and cause the uterus to contract. There are three types of prostaglandins, one of which is what causes the pain and the other two relieve that pain. Those who experience cramps (if not due to issues like endometriosis or fibroids) have more of the prostaglandins that hurt (usually diet-related) and ginger can certainly help. It’s also helpful for lower back pain associated with menstruation, as well as nausea.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm is an excellent choice for menstrual difficulty, as it soothes and nourishes the nervous system and can help treat depression.

Motherwort (leonurus cardiaca)

Motherwort is helpful for painful menstruation promoting blood circulation and many menstrual disorders. It is also useful for headache, insomnia and vertigo.

It is an antispasmodic herb used for painful cramps and the anxiety that may arise as a result. It contains compounds that stimulate the release of oxytocin (our “love” hormone) and it tones the uterus to help reduce future cramps. It can also stimulate blood flow if menstruation is delayed.

Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Nettle is highly nourishing and rich in vitamins, minerals and protein and because cramps are often associated with mineral depletion, nettles can help replenish them. In particular nettles provide a good easily absorbed source of iron. It also provides magnesium, a notable muscle-relaxer and it reduces the painful prostaglandins as well. Nettle also protects the liver, which is helpful indeed for the menstrual dysfunction.

Red Clover (trifolium pretense)

Red clover is nutrient rich and used as an antispasmodic and for its relaxing effects it helps detox the body paving the way for a healthier less dramatic period.

Raspberry (rubus idaeus) 

Raspberry leaf is used to ease uterine and intestinal cramping and reduce menstrual bleeding. It is an excellent regulator.

Rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary is helpful for menstrual cramps and increasing circulation.

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Skullcap is actually a very relaxing herb. It is anti-inflammatory, mineral-rich and muscle relaxing, with slightly sedative and antispasmodic qualities.

Wild Yam (dioscorea villosa) 

Wild Yam contains compounds similar to progesterone and can be effective in alleviating symptoms of PMS such as cramps, headache, mood swings, depression, irritability and insomnia. It is also useful for menopausal symptoms.

The Herbal sitz bath 

A herbal sitz bath is an old therapy for restoring health and vitality to the reproductive system. The term Sitz Bath comes from the German word for “seat”. Basically it involves sitting in a shallow tub filled with warm water and special herbs to cleanse and relieve pain in the perineal area. It was commonly used for healing conditions such as menstrual problems, postpartum healing, hemorrhoids, genital herpes, prostatitis, and vaginal irritation. Sitz baths were once widely used as a medical practice, but are now unfortunately overlooked, even though they effectively offer healing to many menstrual problems.

Sitz baths apply the principles of hydrotherapy to draw fresh blood to the pelvic area aiding in healing and cleansing from the perineum to the anus. Sitz Baths can be part of a regular monthly program for menstrual pain, cramps and disorders, to help ease pain and inflammation. After menstruation, some women might also like to facilitate further safe, cleansing hygiene to the gentital region. 

Sitz bath herbs

Use one or blend any combination of the listed herbs.

Calendula flowers, comfrey leaf, lavender flowers, rosemary leaves, rose petals, yarrow flowering tops, chickweed leaves, plantain leaves, aloe vera leaf.  Sea Salt or magnesium salt may also be added or a few drops of lavender oil. Calendula or myrrh tincture is also effective to add to the sitz bath water. 

  1. Prepare an infusion of the herbs: Use ½ a cup of herbs to 8 cups of boiled water. 
  2. Steep herbs for a minimum 15 minutes or, longer (the longer you steep the tea, the stronger the infusion). 
  3. Strain the infusion into a shallow basin. The shallow basin or bowl needs to be big enough to fit your bottom into, but also be able to fit inside your bathtub 
  4. Add enouh cold water to find the exact temperature that feels safe and comfortable.
  5. Carefully ease your bottom into the herbal water, using the edges of the to hold yourself steady.
  6. Sit and soak for ten minutes or more the water starts to cool.


Yogic insight on menstruation

Apana - the downward force

The body’s energetic system during menstruation is one of downward movement, yet inversions and modern mental processes call for the upward flow of energy, which can lead to imbalance such as the body’s inability to menstruate efficiently. Regarding heavy physical activity, energy is also being re-directed toward that activity thus diverting the energy that would otherwise be used for menstruation. Delving a little deeper, it is this downward force of energy, called “apana vayu” by the ancient yogis, that governs the flow of energy (Prana) into the reproductive organs thus providing the energy needed for the birthing process and the monthly cycle of menstruation.

The yogis recognized five vayus, or ‘winds’ of prana, each with its own specific functions and directions of flow. Apana Vayu is the movement that controls our energetic and physical waste removal. It is the energy in charge of eliminative body functions (sweat, urine, menstruation & excretion) and also the energy behind mental & emotional release, eliminating that which no longer serves us in the mind. Apana Vayu is necessary for the release of not only physical toxins but also destructive thoughts and negative energy. It helps maintain our body’s balance, reduces anxiety, enhances focus, and connects us to our traditional yogic practices. Improving the quality of prana, or the inward flow of energy lessens the imbalance of apana. Prana and apana work in a push-pull manner, each helping to balance the other. Minimizing the input of negativity and maximizing the input of positivity will help improve the balance of prana and apana.

Apanasana (sometimes called wind releasing pose)

Apanasana is a relaxing supine yoga exercise often performed at the end of a yoga sequence. This posture helps to move waste downward, through and out of the body. Practicing Apanasana relieves the pressure of this force of elimination, helping the body to efficiently reduce and expel toxins and tension. Apanasana stretches and stabilizes the pelvis and lower back and can reduce lower back pain, a boon for menstruating women. It also develops parasympathetic nervous response; quietening the central nervous system, reducing excessive anger, excitement, anxiety and high blood pressure. This is exactly what is needed at this time of the month.

How to do apanasana

  • Begin by lying on your back, with your legs and arms extended.
  • As you exhale, draw both of your knees to your chest. Clasp your hands around them. If it is possible for you, wrap your forearms over your shins and clasp each elbow with the opposite hand.
  • Keep your back flat on the mat. Release your shoulder blades down toward your waist. Broaden across your collarbones.
  • Draw your tailbone and sacrum down toward the mat, lengthening your spine even more.
  • If it is comfortable for you to do so, softly rock backward and forward or side-to-side for a gentle spinal massage.
  • Tuck your chin slightly and gaze down the centre line of your body.
  • Hold for up to one minute. Keep your breath smooth and even.
  • With an exhalation, release and extend both legs along the floor and rest. Repeat up to six times.

This practice helps facilitate a healthy menstrual cycle. Practicing Apanasana is a gentle way to restore proper flow and function to the reproductive organs. As you release excess pressure from your digestive organs and low back, your mind will begin to release its pressures and tensions, as well. Practice this pose first thing in the morning and as last thing before going to bed.


Aromatic help for menstruation

Women can find great comfort and healing by using aromatherapy to help navigate the fluctuating physical and emotional waves of the menstrual cycle. The essential oils themselves are invaluable to settle anxiety and help lift depressed moods and shake off stress. Their gorgeous scent motivates and gets things moving dispelling the irritable, bad-tempered mindset that can often accompany menstruation. The essential oils have antiinflammatory and antispasmodic actions that are excellent assistance to deal with the menstrual pain and cramping. Peppermint, ginger and orange are helpful for the bloating and nausea that many women experience, while rosemary, cypress and juniper will help dispel associated fluid retention.

Diffusing the oils at home or in the workplace, having scented baths and massages and wearing elevating mood perfumes are all marvelous ways to get through the trials of a difficult cycle. 

Menstrual cramping blend Almond oil carrier oil. Essential oils: clarysage, geranium, ginger, marjoram, cypress.

Best Hormonal balancers

Essential oils are also important hormonal balancers that promote regularity of the menstrual cycle and less incidence of dysfunction. Basil, jasmine, rose, chamomile, clarysage, geranium, helichrysum, sage, peppermint, fennel, rosemary, ylang-ylang

Monthy skin breakout help

Aromatherapy also offers the bonus of admirably helping treat the associated hormonal skin breakouts that occur during certain times of the cycle for many women. Adding essential oils to skincare routines will greatly clarify problematic or blemished compexions. 

Blemish fighting Blend Rosehip oil base. Essential oils: frankincense, tea tree, manuka, chamomile, lavender and geranium. 

Best menstrual mood lifters Rose, geranium, bergamot, jasmine, litsea cubeba, grapefruit, juniper, neroli, frankincense, sandalwood, and lavender.

Using uplifting essential oils in the pre-menstrual phase can be helpful to support you emotionally. The citrus family and florals are particularly good for easing through the changes of this phase of the cycle. Inhalation of essential oils stimulates the olfactory receptors that convey messages to the brain and induces a composition of memory, thought, and emotion. The mixture of stimulations triggers a release of internal chemicals, including enkephalin and endorphin, which reduce pain and anxiety, respectively and also decrease the levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine by lowering the sympathetic discharge.


Essential oil menstrual helpers 

Clary Sage oil

Clary sage essential oil is a great all-around option for women’s health because it supports hormonal balance and can regulate the female reproductive system. Clary sage is a phytoestrogen essential oil, which means it can mimic estrogen function. This is helpful for female libido issues, PMS, and menopause. It’s a strong antispasmodic, so it can reduce uterine contractions and soothe menstrual pain and cramps. Clary sage also has calming effects and can help to reduce tension and stress while improving sleep quality.

Cinnamon oil

Cinnamon oil alone has been studied as an anti-inflammatory treatment for menstrual cramps and was found to be very effective at reducing uterine contractions. The scent is also very warm and comforting and improves circulation.

Cypress oil

Cypress enhances circulation and relaxes muscles that certainly help reduce menstrual cramps. It also helps to disperse fluid retention and stagnant, unmotivated states of mind.

Frankincense oil

Frankincense can be used in a warm bath, diffuser or applied topically with other oils to help relieve pain associated with inflammation. It soothes the whole body and mind and is healing for skin breakouts and is excellent for use in a warm compress.

Peppermint oil

Peppermint essential oil is energizing, very pain relieving and can act as a local anaesthetic. It is also anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic and can reduce the duration and severity of menstrual cramps.  This makes it the natural remedy for hormone fluctuation-related fatigue, tummy issues, headaches and period cramps.

Geranium oil

Geranium balances the hormones to promote regularity and elevate depressed states of mind. It is very dispersing for fluid retention and improves lymph drainage.  It counters a too heavy menstrual flow.

Ginger oil

A mild laxative, ginger can help with constipation that bothers many women before the period comes. It quells nausea and eases bloat and distension of the abdomen. Ginger greatly improves circulation and is warming oil of worthy comfort to moody, lethargic women.

Lavender oil

Lavender is an excellent choice for managing PMS symptoms, insomnia, cramps and muscle aches - all the common menstrual symptoms. It is a useful muscle relaxer, pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, calmative, sedative and mood booster. This essential oil soothes the prostaglandins that mediate pain and uterine contractions. It can also gently reduce fluid retention and assuage migraine headaches during menstruation.

Chamomile oil

Chamomile is a gentle anti-inflammatory that calms and comforts the psyche while relieving menstrual cramps and muscular tension. It admirably settles mood swings associated with PMT.

Clove  oil

Clove oil can provide significant pain relief and acts as a local anaesthetic when added to pain relief blends and it can also help reduce bleeding.  Keep its use to a minimum as it can dominate and cause nausea too.

Marjoram oil

Marjoram is emmenagogic and offers solid help to bring on and regulate the menstrual cycle. It relaxes the muscles and reduces spasms as well as headaches and dizziness.

Sage oil

Sage imitates the female hormone, oestrogen and is emmenagogic, which means it stimulates menses and helps regulate the menstrual cycle. It acts as a tonic for the female reproductive system. It may be added to blends to ease lower backache with its pain relieving properties.

Sandalwood oil

Add sandalwood to massage and bath blends reduce inflammation and for its antispasmodic relaxing support. Diffuse or wear the oil to restore equilibrium and restore peace and calm.

Ylang ylang oil

This oil is regarded as a mood enhancer, PMS-calmer and mild sedative to help take the edge off pain associated with cramping. It also helps fight anxiety, tension and settle overwrought nerves.

Veltivert oil

Warm and earthy, vertivert helps ground the menstruating woman who feels light headed and out of sorts, it also helps alleviate insomnia.


Helpful things we can do

Up the ante on self-care

  • The way a woman’s period manifests is a direct reflection of how she lives; the food eaten, the thoughts thought, the emotional experience and how well the inner rhythms and inner wisdom have been heeded.  If we want to positively change our menstrual experience, we need to make a transformational shift with these life aspects.
  • Celebrating periods can be a way of reframing menstruation - reclaiming and affirming it as a positive experience that counters any cultural or inherited stigma. Women can then embrace their bodies and concentrate on the more healthful elements of periods when there is less shame and taboo. Perform a fragrant ritual to differentiate this time of transformational shedding. Use sandalwood and frankincense to set the tone.
  • Menstruation is an intense time of introspection and reflection and it is ideal to find any possible type of retreat from everyday life to connect with that deep wisdom within, which is one of the primary manifestations of the Divine feminine. Spend as much time in quietude, rest and introspection (meditation, visualization, journaling) as you are able. It is understood that our innate abilities are increased during this time. Take note of how this may alleviate any discomfort that normally accompanies the cycle. Over-scheduling and over-exercising without respite over years can result in an energetic deficit for overall wellbeing during menstruation.
  • When we bleed, we can consciously take that opportunity to focus on releasing and on letting go of anything we want to eliminate from our life.  We can detox and cleanse on an emotional, physical and mental level.  The energy within our own bodies is favorable for letting go of anything that does not serve us anymore so we can start anew.  Give some of the menstrual blood as a gift to a plant in the garden. 
  • Do gentle yin yoga, long slow postures with lots of forward bends to calm the nerves. Include a deep earthing squat to release the bood flow, butterfly pose to tone the uterus and cat/cow pose to ease back pain. Avoid inversions that impede outward blood flow. 
  • Massage can significantly help. It reduces stress hormone levels by excreting endorphins in the plasma, promoting parasympathetic activation and increases secretion of the neurotransmitter serotonin to block the conduction of pain. Indeed, massage exerts multiple positive influences on relieving menstrual pain.
  • Apply heat; massage a pain-relieving blend of essential oils (that includes chamomile, frankincense and a few drops of clove.) into the lower back or abdomen and apply a heat pack or hot water bottle to ease discomfort.
  • Run an aromatic hot bath; add frankincense, lavender, clary sage and geranium.
  • Do eat some chocolate, just not the sugary milky variety; choose a real dark cacao base chocolate for an extra shot of magnesium and endorphin mood lift.
  • Add a drop of ginger oil to your tea or food to ease bloat, nausea or digestion discomfort during the pre-menstrual phase.

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