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HERBAL TEAS & Infusions: Preparations, benefits, AND EFFECTS of female tonic herbs

Herbal Teas & Infusions: Preparations, benefits, and effects of female tonic herbs

This is a guest article written by herbal specialist Erla Sól Árnadóttir .

Everyone knows how much a warm cup of tea can comfort us in times where we need some nourishment for the heart and soul. Traditionally, tea is a beverage made from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis originating in Asia. The tea plant is a potent provider of nutrients, antioxidants, and ritual connection. However, different herbs have long been used to make a sort of "tea" as well, called herbal infusions. Herbal infusions do not contain the tea plant itself, but rather plants found in ecosystems all over the world.

What is the difference between an herbal infusion and a tea?

All cultures have their own kinds of herbal infusions containing plants native to their region. Some people call a mild brew of herbs a “tea,” which is steeped for a shorter period of time than a classical herbal infusion. Herbs can also be made into a stronger nourishing drink called an herbal infusion, which is brewed for a longer period of time to allow more of the nutrients to emerge into the water ¹ . Water effectively extracts many of the active chemical constituents and beneficial compounds of herbs and provides an enjoyable way to gain nourishment from the plants.

Summary: Herbal infusions are stronger and more potent than tea, and provide a nourishing way to consume vitamins and minerals from plants.

Can we use herbs to support women's well-being?

Herbalists have long used infusions to help people overcome imbalance, injury, disease, and to help strengthen the body. Herbal infusions can be enjoyed every day to support the body in its general nutrition and function. Herbs contain compounds that act on body systems to strengthen them and promote long-term well-being. Herbs can contain minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols, alkaloids and much more. Herbal infusions are so nutritious that they are considered among herbalists to be “nature's multivitamin supplement.” From a holistic standpoint, herbs can be an integral part of a complete nutrition regimen. In fact, many of them positively impact women's health and can provide support for the menstrual cycle, hormone balance, and fertility.

Reproductive health is often an indicator of overall wellness, and herbs can provide the key nutrients needed to support this vital system. The delicate hormonal balance created by the reproductive organs is affected by stress, inflammation, and nutritional deficiencies ². With the proper use of herbs, these areas of wellness can be greatly improved. There are many incredible herbs in the world used for supporting the female body, but some highly notable plant allies for women are raspberry leaf, stinging nettle, red clover, and rose.

Summary: Herbs can be part of a holistic health regimen to address nutritional requirements for a balanced menstrual cycle.


What effects does Raspberry Leaf have on the reproductive system in women?

Raspberry leaf is the silvery green leaf from the beloved raspberry bush ( Rubus idaeus ) and is one of the most popular traditional herbs to support women's health. It is rich in vitamins A, C, E, and B vitamins thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin. It's a source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and manganese ³ . Raspberry leaf's magnesium content makes it a potent support herb for menstruation concerns, and its iron content may support women who experience excessive bleeding during menstruation. These leaves contain fragrine, an alkaloid that works on smooth muscle, helping the uterus contract with more ease thus alleviating cramping. This may be helpful for both menstruation, pregnancy, and labor .

Raspberry leaf may strengthen the endocrine system and the reproductive organs, specifically the uterus in preparation for menstruation as well as pregnancy and childbirth. It has astringent properties, helping to tone and tighten organ tissues, reducing excess bleeding and making contractions less painful during menstruation and childbirth. During postpartum, an infusion of raspberry leaf can be made to support the body in expelling the placenta and restoring the womb. It can also be used to promote abundant flow of breastmilk 6 .

Summary: Nutrient rich Raspberry Leaf can be used to support womb vitality and resilience. It can be used to ease cramps and postpartum discomforts.


How can we use Stinging Nettle to nourish the body?

Stinging nettle is one of the most nutritious herbs in the world, acclaimed for its high vitamin and mineral content. The plant is a hardy green tower of sharp leaves that expel tiny fragments upon skin contact that can cause an irritation to the skin when fresh. The plant is often considered an unwanted weed and a nuisance. However, it works to balance and nourish the body from within. Much like raspberry leaf, stinging nettle ( Urtica dioica ) is an astringent herb which means that it helps to strengthen and tighten the tissue of the uterus, making cramps less painful and bleeding less intense . Nettle's high content of iron, calcium, potassium, sulphur, chromium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, silicon, and zinc make it a powerful herb to use in preparation for pregnancy and menstruation. It's a wonderful herb to use in cases where the body is depleted or where the body is about to lose nutrient reserves 8 . These cases include menstruation, lactation, pregnancy, and prolonged stress.

The rich mineral content may help to alleviate hormonal water retention which is a common symptom women experience during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Nettles help to build balanced fluids in the body, and promote urinary tract health 9 . Research indicates that nettle contains both hyperglycemic and hypoglycemic benefits, helping to regulate blood sugar levels which may be more sensitive during various times of the menstrual cycle (10) .

Nettle contains chlorophyll and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, C, D, E, and K. Its vitamin K content may prevent blood clotting, decreasing the risk of hemorrhage during childbirth and excessive clotting during menstruation ¹ ¹ . Nettle can help us overcome fatigue, depletion, and nutritional imbalances in stages of life where we need a little extra care. It is an absolute superfood and drinking it as a herbal infusion is a great way to get the most out of these benefits.

Summary: Stinging Nettle is a mineral rich herb that can help with excessive bleeding during menstruation and labor. It can address nutrient deficiencies and balance fluid levels in the body. It may balance blood sugar and support proper urinary function.


Using Red Clover to beat the period bloat and cleanse from within

Another deeply nourishing and mineralizing herb used to support women throughout history is Red Clover ( Trifolium pratense) . Red clover is a beautiful pink blossom that thrives in open spaces. Red clover contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and C ¹ ² . It also contains magnesium, calcium, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, and potassium. Many of these nutrients are known to relax and nourish the nervous system and reproductive organs which is important during menstruation and to support fertility. The nutrients in red clover are also beneficial for easing symptoms of premenstrual irritability, fatigue, acne breakouts, bloating, and digestive stagnation ¹ ³ . It may help promote normal elimination through the digestive system. Red clover is considered deeply cleansing for the blood and the lymphatic system, supporting detoxification for glowing skin ¹ .

Red clover is a great herb to use to prevent the common bloating and water retention from sluggish detoxification in the later half of the menstrual cycle. It is known to improve circulation which is helpful for the uterus and ovaries which need proper blood flow to thrive ¹ . This is also an important function for fertile cervical fluid. It has been used by herbalists to treat symptoms of PCOS such as hormone imbalances and acne. It has phytoestrogenic properties and raises progesterone levels in the body, which may help to promote balanced hormones throughout the stages of the menstrual cycle ¹ 6 .

Summary: Red Clover is a nutrient dense herb that could be used to promote proper detoxification, nutrition, and hormone balance in women.


Rose for emotional support and soothing premenstrual symptoms

We have all experienced the effects of stopping to smell the roses. We know how much the scent and essence of a rose can bring us into the present moment. Roses (Rosa damascena) contain aromatic properties that can help soothe the spirit and calm the nerves. It helps us to connect to our hearts and listen to our innermost needs and desires. Connecting with the rose, through smelling them in a garden or in a bouquet, or by drinking a rose herbal infusion or tea, can bring us closer to our hearts and to our essence of femininity. The rose has long been a symbol of love, romance, and ease.

Oftentimes during the premenstrual phase, we can lose touch with ourselves and feel irritated, disconnected, and ungrounded. The rose can help bring us back to our center and help us get through the more challenging days of our cycle. From an herbalist's standpoint, the rose can be deeply calming, helping to uplift the emotions and balance stagnation within the body ¹ . Stop and enjoy the roses as much as you need, especially during your luteal and menstrual phases of your cycle.

Summary: Roses soothe the mind and open up the heart, easing common premenstrual mood symptoms such as irritability.


How to make a healing herbal infusion to support your cycle

Raspberry leaf, stinging nettle, red clover, and rose are herbs that work synergistically together to support women's cycle balance and make for a beautiful herbal infusion. Herbal infusions can be made normally as "tea", or infused for longer periods of time to extract more of the beneficial nutrients. An herbal infusion can be brewed 10 minutes up to several hours or even overnight for maximum nutrient extraction.

When making an infusion, I typically will use a tablespoon of herb per cup of tea, but when making a more potent infusion extracting for longer periods of time, I like to make a few servings at once to drink throughout the day and allow it to brew for a longer time. In that case, I will use 3 tablespoons or 3 grams of herbs for 3 cups or 6 dl of water. I love to make a large batch of herbal infusion in a teapot with a strainer, or in a pot on the stove or a heat safe glass jar. Then I strain the herbs out with a wire or mesh strainer after the desired amount of brewing time. Infusing herbs for around 40 minutes allows the flavors to bloom and the nutrients to extract. When introducing your body to herbal infusions, it's best to gently start with 1 tablespoon, or 1 gram of herbs in 1 cup or 2 dl of water and allow it to infuse for 10 to 20 minutes. It's important to cover the cup while the herbs are brewing so that none of the nutrients evaporate with the steam.

It's also possible to do a super infusion. Super-infusions are tea with the most amount of nutrient extraction. To make one, use the same measurements in hot water, but allow the brew to stand overnight before straining. I like to drink a healing herbal infusion to support my cycle 2 to 3 times per day in my ovulation and luteal phase to prepare for menstruation. So I will make a double batch in the morning and drink it throughout the day to continually supply my body with these key nutrients.

Summary: Herbal infusions can be made at home in a teapot with 1 tbsp herbs and 2 dl hot water for 10 to 20 minutes or overnight.

Daily mindfulness ritual with herbal infusions

Making an herbal infusion can be a beautiful act of mindfulness. Preparing and drinking herbs can enhance our connection to nature, and is an enriching self-care regimen. It's a wonderful routine to wake up to in the mornings, going to the mindful practice of creating a daily herbal infusion with nutritive herbs to support you throughout the day. It is a sweet way to send love to your future self, investing in the future of your wellness through the healing power of herbs.

While the herbs are brewing in the hot water, it's a perfect time to practice meditation, yoga, gua sha, mindful exercise, journaling, reflection, or any practice that guides you into your body and present moment awareness. While the herbs are brewing, I like to set an intention for my day, imagining my intention infusing into my reality through the herbs.

The first sips of the infusion are special and can be enjoyed with reverence for your body, the plants, and the web of life that supported the herbs coming into your presence. I always remind myself where the herbs came from and how they are helping me connect to the earth and my own inner nature. The power of nature is infinite, and we are reflections of this innate creativity. May we honor our bodies and the earth with love, respect, and presence.

Summary: Making an herbal infusion can be a beautiful mindful practice to support the body, mind and spirit.

This is a guest article written by herbal specialist Erla Sól Árnadóttir . Read more about her expertise and practice at www.ErlaSol.Earth .


This blog post is for educational purposes and does not make any health related claims. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure medical conditions. If you have health problems, it is important to discuss them with an expert. Herbal studies are often based on anecdotal evidence and information that has not been clinically researched and is often knowledge passed down through generations and affirmed as being effective through expert clinical herbal experience. Readers are encouraged to always do their own research and talk to their healthcare provider before experimenting with herbs and supplements.


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