As I slowly emerge from the retreat of inner winter into inner spring, I harness the natural rise in energy levels to deeply nourish myself. This is a potent time to revive the self-care rituals that may have been left scattered in the autumn winds and buried under the heaviness of winter. As I slowly and playfully emerge, I start to turn my sights back to the abundant life all around me. My curiosity begins to turn outward again, towards the plant life that not only nourishes my body but also my soul. It’s the dawn of a new cycle, and if I’ve taken the necessary time to rest & retreat during menstruation, the inner springtime is abundant with life-affirming, playful & imaginative energy.
If there’s ever a time to become more health conscious, it’s in your inner spring – when your body is regenerating and the visions you received in menstruation need extra tender loving care. Of course, health is always important, and maintaining it in every inner season creates harmony in your overall cycle. But when you get swept up in the pleasures of inner summer and cannot seem to focus on anything in your inner autumn…inner spring is always right around the corner to provide a breath of fresh air and fertile inner soil to recommit to your wellbeing.
Plants are some of the biggest catalysts on a journey to inner healing and freedom. Our relationship with plants is not limited to health & wellness. Having a relationship with the plant world is having a relationship with Mother Earth through her creations. Taking these plants into our bodies – with respect and honour – is a re-wilding, a sacred reconnecting, a boon for healing and increased awareness and vitality.
So many of the negative symptoms we experience with our cycle – cramps, migraines, depression, etc. – are really due to a lack of connection with Nature, stemming from a lack of connection to our own bodies. Developing a relationship with the plant world is like calling in for extra support from a friend on your difficult days, and enjoying the relationship with that same friend on your good days. Human beings and plant beings have a sacred friendship that dates back to the very beginning of time. Plants have always been our allies.
The plants that I share with you are by no means an exhaustive collection of plants for womb health. These are simply the plants that I personally know best, have a strong relationship with and know to be of benefit in my life. While my relationship with my cycle is not always easy, for the first time in over 10 years of menstruating I am finally enjoying my cycle because I’ve been able to maintain relative harmony with the shifting inner energies, thanks to our plant allies and the foundational practice of menstrual cycle awareness.
When it comes to plants, there are some that can act as medicines and are taken in certain ‘dosages’ at certain times for particular purposes. There are others that are like a ‘cure all,’ that can be taken anytime and all of the time because of their mild, yet nourishing properties. Red raspberry leaf falls in the second category: it is a ‘cure all’ for womb health. I have been drinking red raspberry leaf religiously – daily, that is – for probably close to 3 years now. This little leaf was actually my gateway into menstrual cycle awareness, so she is very dear to my heart. I make sure to have at least one cup of raspberry leaf tea a day. When I happen to miss a day, I don’t stress about it; that would be counterintuitive.
Raspberry leaf makes a great tea, steeped in boiling water for 15 min and taken without any milks or sugars. It is lovely on its own, but can be blended with rose petal, chamomile (for cramp relief) and dried or fresh ginger, to name a few.
From Euphoric Herbals:
“…red raspberry leaf contains many vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, which are all vital for the female body and may be lacking from diet…the herb also contains other essential nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, and manganese and vitamins C, A, E and B complex.
The nutrients found in red raspberry leaf can especially help with a healthy and effectively functioning uterus. It provides almost all of the nutrients needed for uterine health…red raspberry can also help to both tone and relax muscles in the pelvis region, including the uterus…[it’s] benefits also include help and relief from PMS symptoms. The leaf contains a compound called fragarine, which helps to tone muscles in the pelvis area and help relieve menstrual cramps.”
And there is so much more about raspberry leaf to be discovered! Try googling ‘benefits of raspberry leaf’ and dive in if you’re interested. But even better yet, bring the herb into your life. Hold it, smell it, taste it. Red raspberry grows wildly, so you may be able to harvest some around your home if you are careful and knowledgeable about wild plants. You can also very easily source raspberry leaf online. My favourite online herbal shop is Organic Matters.
In order for us to live in inner harmony, all of the phases of our cycle must be embraced and met with awareness. I say this because if you are experiencing menstrual pain, such as cramping, look to heal not only in the moments of your bleed, but throughout the whole of your cycle. Remember, the seeds that you plant and nurture in inner spring will flourish and be harvested in summer and autumn. By winter (menstruation) you will be deeply embedded with the roots of those seeds you had planted the previous spring. This is cyclical wisdom: returning to the same point again and again; however, each time you return you are wiser because of the journey that brought you there. In this way, the menstrual cycle provides us with feedback so that we can open to deeper and deeper levels of understanding about ourselves and the nature of life and energy.
Although plants are our allies on this journey, nothing can replace our menstrual cycle awareness practice. This awareness is always the foundation from which to build upon.
Keep charting your cycle, referring to The Art of Attention if you need a refresher.
All my Love,