From the cramping to the mood swings and the blood (oh the blood!), periods can be a rather demanding time of the month, and many of us are prone to feeling a bit out of sorts both mentally and physically before and during our period.
Aside from hiding away from the world with a steady supply of Panadol and Netflix, there are a few more viable ways we can make this monthly event a little—or hopefully, a lot—more bearable.
Do you experience any of these symptoms on a monthly basis?
- Short or irregular cycles
- Mood swings, anxiety, depression, irritability
- Symptoms of oestrogen dominance
- Hot flashes or night sweats
- Headaches and migraines
- Breast tenderness
- Painful periods or menstrual cramps
- Trouble sleeping
If so, you'll want to pay close attention to the following 5 herbs and nutrients:
1. Zinc for nourished ovaries
Oh what this wonder mineral can’t do! Zinc is required for over 300 enzyme (chemical) reactions in the body. One of the many reasons we love zinc is the way in which it supports regular, ovulatory cycles in women.
Zinc nourishes ovarian follicles (eggs) and helps to stimulate FSH to promote ovulation, which is essentially the ‘on-switch’ for female sex hormones.
In addition, zinc also helps to lower inflammation, supports wound healing and blocks excess androgens—making it the MVP nutrient for healing and preventing hormonal acne.
Although we only need small amounts of zinc, it isn’t all that easy to get through food and is sometimes tricky to absorb. Key sources include oysters, mussels, lean red meat and pumpkin seeds.
2. Vitex to promote ovulation
Vitex Agnus-Castus, also known as Chasteberry, is a berry extract that has a long history of use in reproductive health. Growing wildly in Greece, Italy and parts of the middle east, the traditional use of Vitex to support cycle health and fertility extends back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.
In the past 50 years, this powerful herb has been gaining traction in the gynaecological scene in Europe, commonly used to treat conditions such as PMS, irregular or missing periods, heavy periods, painful periods, breast tenderness, and infertility.
Vitex is particularly good at promoting ovulation and increasing levels of progesterone, our soothing hormone that balances the effects of oestrogen and helps to keep us feeling somewhat human in the week before our period arrives.
3. Ashwagandha to adapt your stress response
Ashwagandha is one of the most heavily researched adaptogens, which are a class of ancient herbs that have been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to help balance hormones, support stress response, and fight fatigue.
When our bodies and minds experience stress—whether it’s a looming deadline, traffic jam or even just intense exercise—our adrenal glands respond with stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. An ongoing overload of stress hormones can disrupt our sex hormones, and lead to signs of imbalance in the body such as heavy or painful periods, irregular periods, missing periods and increased PMS symptoms.
This is where adaptogens come in. Ashwagandha is a potent adaptogenic herb that works to support the adrenal system and ‘adapt’ the body’s response to stress, helping us—and our hormone balance—become more resilient to these modern-day stressors.
The Ashwagandha in Period Pal is a powerful, patented form called Sensoril®, which has been studied in numerous human clinical trials and shown to provide optimal efficacy for maximum impact. We’re into bang for your buck around here.
4. Ginkgo Biloba to support circulation and blood flow
Another powerful herb, Ginkgo Biloba has been used therapeutically in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Turns out they were really on to something; the active constituents in Ginkgo have been shown to dilate blood vessels and act as an antioxidant to mop up harmful free radicals.
This native Chinese tree extract has a number of reported benefits, including increasing circulation, supporting brain function, reducing stress and anxiety and lowering inflammation.
Ginkgo has even been shown to boost libido and sexual function in both men and women (likely thanks to its skills around increasing blood flow, if you’re picking up what we’re putting down).
By helping to reduce inflammation and improve circulation, Ginkgo is also a very useful herb for:
- supporting period health,
- helping to calm period pain pain
- reducing common PMS symptoms such as anxiety, fluid retention and bloating.
5. Iodine to keep oestrogen sensitivity in check
Iodine is a key mineral that is best known for its essential role in the normal functioning of the thyroid—a gland responsible for growth, brain development and metabolic rate; however, iodine plays an important role in hormone health too.
Along with supporting healthy oestrogen metabolism, oestrogen helps to stabilise oestrogen-sensitive tissue, including the brain, ovaries, uterus and breasts.
Low levels of iodine in the body can make these areas particularly sensitive to oestrogen, which can lead to heavy or painful periods, mood swings and breast tenderness.
New Zealand soils are typically low in iodine, resulting in low levels of iodine in locally grown produce. The best food sources of iodine are seafood, seaweed, kelp and iodised salt.
Period Pal: Cycle support made easy
Let’s be frank, taking all of these superstars in supplement form every day is more admin than we’d like, which is why we took matters into our own hands.
Period Pal combines all five of these hero ingredients in high-quality forms and doses that get the job done, into just 2 caps taken each day. Period.