Stay lifted throughout the winter season!
Make tea time a boost for your hormones and neurotransmitters.
While most herbal or green teas you choose are likely to be a nourishing treat, look for the following herbs that are especially effective for hormone and neurotransmitter support. Enjoyed as yummy teas, they will keep you warm, hydrated, and balanced all winter long.
What's the best thing about the holidays? Certainly not shopping, traveling, or annoying holiday articles! Being with friends and family of course. Sharing tea is a time-honored, cross-cultural ritual that you can introduce into your holidays. Pouring another's tea is considered a blessing to both parties. Offering these herbal tea options is a healthy gift you can give while spending time together, and a gift for your hormones at the same time!
Herbal teas for women's health (yes, including menopause):
This fruit, also known as chaste berry or monk's pepper has been long known as an endocrine tonic, especially for women's hormones. Vitex can address symptoms associated with PMS. And for those at the tail end of those days, or long done, it is also great for reducing the effects of menopause. It can also be effective at helping with endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Indeed, Vitex rightfully deserves the title "The Women's Herb."
*Do not take Vitex if you are pregnant, nursing, or if on birth control pills, as it could lower the pills' effectiveness.
Actually bright fuchsia in color, this herb is known as a treatment for menopausal symptoms, most notably hot flashes. Red clover is high in isoflavones, compounds that act as phytoestrogens which are similar to the human form of estrogen. Red clover helps keep this sex hormone balanced in the body.
To be clear, scientific studies have had mixed results on how effective red clover is for minimizing hot flashes. However, anecdotally many women have experienced improvement by taking it regularly.
Red clover has also been shown to support the lymphatic and immune systems, as well as helping relieve symptoms of respiratory issues, skin disorders, osteoporosis, and inflammation. It also contains many healthy nutrients including magnesium, niacin, potassium, calcium and vitamin C.
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*Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take red clover.
This herb has been used traditionally by Native Americans to address issues including women's health, kidney disorders, depression and much more. Today it is popularly used to alleviate symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, mood swings, and vaginal dryness.
Like Red Clover, Black Cohosh is also rich in vitamins and minerals and has been shown to help prevent osteoporosis. Labeled a "nervine," this herb helps calm the nervous system and is also a muscle relaxant - perfect for a midwinter's nap.
The class of herbs particularly good at boosting neurotransmitter function is called Adaptogens. These are natural substances that, as the name implies, help us adapt to stress and keep our mental and bodily functions normalized. Adaptogens follow the 4-N's rule: nourishing, normalizing, non-toxic and non-specific (work on multiple systems at once). Here are some wonderful adaptogens you can find in yummy tea form.
This plant has been used medicinally for more than a thousand years in Western Europe, Scandinavia, Tibet, and China. In Asia, a Rhodiola tea is considered to be helpful especially in winter months.
Rhodiola influences the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine by allowing them to more easily pass through the blood-brain barrier. Clinical studies have shown Rhodiola to help with overall depression, insomnia, and emotional stability. It can also increase energy and stamina, regulate the heartbeat, protect cells and improve mental performance. As an adaptogen, Rhodiola promotes a calm response to stress by optimizing adrenal function.
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This herb also called "Indian Ginseng," influences both GABA and serotonin activity. These two neurotransmitters are involved in relaxation and a balanced, calm response to life. Backed by scientific study, Ashwagandha has been proven to help recovery from adrenal fatigue, moderate depression, and anxiety, and increase energy.
Ashwagandha is also used to treat hypothyroidism, arthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma, menstrual problems, and more. Additionally, it may reduce levels of fat and sugar in the blood.
St. John’s Wort
Native to Europe, St. John's Wort got its name from its often blooming on the birthday of John the Baptist, around the summer solstice. It increases the levels and longevity of neurotransmitters in the brain, especially serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and norepinephrine.
St. John's Wort has been clinically shown to help with mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety (not to be relied upon for severe depression.)
In addition, this powerful herb is used for other issues including menopausal issues, IBS, ADHD, chronic fatigue, low appetite, and more.
Important note: St. John’s Wort can weaken the effects of many medications, including antidepressants, birth control pills, cancer drugs and more. Check with your health care provider if you are taking any pharmaceuticals.
Lastly, simple green tea has been scientifically proven to increase neurotransmitter levels. It contains the amino acid L-Theanine, which boosts levels of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, while also reducing the adrenal stress hormone cortisol.
Green tea also contains compounds with antioxidant properties that fight damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants make blood vessels more flexible, helping to keep them from clogging. There is an ever-growing body of evidence that suggests green tea may also help treat the following conditions and diseases: high cholesterol, liver disease, diabetes, IBS and even cancer.
It’s clear that green tea has many healthful benefits – and consider this: National Institutes of Health studies show that drinking green tea is associated with reduced risk of dying from ANY cause.
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