Image by Zaqqy J.
For a few weeks now, I’ve been trying to work towards balancing my hormones. I’ve been trying to do this since Jacob was born, but it became even more important recently as some mild to moderate anxiety overcame me right around when I got my period back. That’s not so fun — it hits in the evening and I just feel so emotionally bad. Luckily, I have found a simple, natural way to control it.
Struggling with Anxiety
I have had anxiety at various points in my life, but never consistently. Then suddenly it was every night.
We’d had a rough month from mid-Feb. to mid-March, where it seemed like someone threw up or was otherwise sick every 3 – 4 days. It was not fun. My anxiety centered around that. Every night I was sure someone was going to wake up sick. Every time someone was fussy, didn’t want to eat, struggled with going to bed, or anything, I worried. Frankly, even if they were silent, I worried, because I wondered, what next? When I started to change things because of my fears — I didn’t want to schedule playdates in case they got sick while we were there, or give them too much to eat so they wouldn’t make such a mess if they did get sick — I realized I had to do something.
I was able to think through it and realize that it was hormonal. It had coincided with the return of my period. I’m not entirely sure why it has manifested as anxiety, but it has. I needed a solution that would be gentle, natural, safe for breastfeeding, and help to actually correct the underlying problem.
My solution was red raspberry leaf.
Benefits of Red Raspberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf contains: Carotenoids, citric acid, fragrine, pectin, tannins and vitamins A, B complex, C, D and E. An easily assimilated form of calcium; manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon and sulfur.
It has been used for years for uterine toning and throughout pregnancy. It is good to alleviate morning sickness, prevent miscarriage, provide energy, make labor faster and easier, reduce hemorrhage, and increase milk supply.
It is also useful for nausea, diarrhea, bleeding gums, mouth sores, and may be useful in regulating blood sugar.
It is also known for regulating the menstrual cycle and alleviating cramps.
Because red raspberry leaf is rich in B-complex vitamins (which are water-soluble), it may be useful for anxiety. B-vitamins are known to help reduce stress. The tannins in the tea are also known to help relax muscles in the body and can soothe stomach aches and other manifestations of stress. It is a combination of these and the hormone-balancing properties that I was looking for.
This tea is safe for women, men, and children, and due to the B-complex may help men too.
Preparing and Consuming Red Raspberry Leaf
I have tried this a few different ways but have found this is most effective:
- Scoop about 1/3 to 1/2 c. of the loose, dried leaves into a quart-sized glass mason jar
- Cover with boiling water and put a lid on
- Allow to steep at least 12 hours
- Strain, then add raw honey to taste
- Drink several hours prior to when anxiety would begin
So, for me, I make this infusion before I go to bed. After breakfast, I strain it and add my honey and drink it through the late morning and early afternoon.
I have found if I forget to make it and I steep it in the morning for a shorter time, and/or delay consuming the infusion until mid to late afternoon, it is not as effective. It still helps, but it does not prevent anxiety if I wait to drink it until the problem has already started. As long as I drink it early in the day, though, I feel completely normal.
*I am not suggesting that this will work for you. I am sharing my experience in hopes that it might help someone else. You may find that a different combination of herbs is more effective for you. I encourage you to do your own research and try some infusions to see what works best for you, and to seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner if you are suffering from severe anxiety or are unable to find what works for you.
Check Your Temperature
Something else I did during this time (both prior to starting the infusions and for a week or so after) was check my basal body temperature. I noted that it was all over the place! Some days it was around 97.2 (which was “normal” for me a couple years ago), but other days it was as low as 95.8! It did seem to be affected by the temperature of the room I was in, where my temperature was lower if I felt cool when I woke vs. if I felt warm.
What it told me was that my hormones weren’t at all balanced. My chart looked like a zig-zag. There was clearly no ovulation happening. Something was not right. I kept my track of my temperature each day with software like Fertility Flower.
I began drinking the tea what should have been roughly mid-cycle. I plan to start checking my temperatures again now, a couple weeks in. It has so far had the effective of stopping my period from returning. I’m not sure why that is, but something’s going on hormonally. I will continue to drink the infusions because they are helping to slowly balance my hormones again (hence why I feel better) and I will chart my temperature again to see if that is evening out. And then we will see where I am.
I encourage everyone to check your temperature, too, to see if you find the same pattern I did — perhaps there is something hormonal going on that you are not yet aware of. Fertility Flower is a great tool for doing this. You can enter your temperature each day as well as any other symptoms you are having, so that you can keep track of what is going on. It also has a neat “diet” checklist (that is in line with traditional foods). This is a great place to start if you are having any issues that could be hormonal (which, frankly, is most things).
Balance Your Body
Finding out what’s going on with temperature and then using nourishing herbs to balance your body may help alleviate many problems, including anxiety, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, depression, fatigue, and lots more.
Other herbs which may help include:
- Dandelion root
- Nettle leaf
- Milk thistle
- Ashwagandha (not for use while pregnant/ breastfeeding)
- American Ginseng (not for use while pregnant/ breastfeeding)
There are others which may help. Look for “adaptogenic” herbs, which are nourishing, toning, and help to balance the body without producing specific side effects. These herbs are gentle enough to be used daily without issue.
Please note that I did say where I know that the herb should not be used by pregnant/nursing women, but that does not mean all the others are safe. If I was unsure, I did not say either way. Please research for yourself before choosing any particular herb. (I also know that nettle and oatstraw are safe for pregnant/nursing women.)
Check out my herbal multivitamin recipe if you’re interested in another way to use these herbs.
**This post sponsored by Fertility Flower. Which is still a really good idea.**