Menorrhagia, Heavy Periods and Herbal Medicine


Find out the best Herbal medicines to use for heavy bleeding.

Fibroids are the other main cause of excessive menstruation. Other less common causes of menorrhagia are uterine polyps, endometriosis, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, contraceptive causes, non-gynaecological causes and pregnancy related conditions.

Functional Menorrhagia

The medical term for a heavy period not related to any other condition (organic pathology) is functional menorrhagia. ‘Functional’ means that the menorrhagia occurs because of disordered function of an otherwise healthy-looking uterus. Women with functional menorrhagia have heavy periods but their menstrual cycle is normal. The diagnosis implies an absence of identifiable pathology in the reproductive tract such as uterine fibroids or polyps. In addition, cyclic regularity suggests that failure to ovulate is not a cause of the abnormal bleeding.

The contraceptive Pill or some other form of synthetic hormonal therapy is the common conventional medical treatment, but many women are not comfortable with this approach. A medical Herbalists approach is to determine which category of herbs will be most likely to reduce menstrual loss for the particular woman to be treated.

Anti-haemorrhagic herbs will be a necessity, but often hormone-regulating herbs will be indicated as well. Symptoms such as PMS, an irregular cycle and spotting or intramenstrual bleeding are suggestive. Taking a basal body temperature can also assess whether ovulation is occurring. If there is no evidence of a hormonal irregularity, herbs to regulate hormone levels may not be necessary. The best herbal treatment can be formulated based on the underlying causes of the abnormal bleeding so its important to assess whether its due to:

  • Abnormal uterine tone
  • Prostaglandins imbalance
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Weakness and lack of vitality leading to a systemic imbalance and usually a tendency to be cold
  • Liver congestion often leading to irritability and headaches, and a tendency to become hot

Herbal Medicine

Uterine anti-haemorrhagics

The uterine anti-haemorrhagic herbs usually contain the tannins characteristic of most herbal astringents, in addition to other (non-tannin) constituents, primarily flavonoids and saponins which regulate bleeding. Some of these effects are quite complex. Examples of uterine anti-heamorrhagics used to treat menorrhagia include Capsella bursa-pastoris, Hydrastis and Alchemilla.

Uterine Tonics

Herbs that affect the muscle tone of the uterus, the uterine tonics, are believed to affect bleeding by normalizing uterine tone. The uterine tonics are accepted as being capable of improving weak muscle activity and relaxing excess spasm and are often combined with uterine anti-haemorrhagics in the treatment of menorrhagia. Uterine tonics include Angelica sinensis, Chamaeliriun luteum and Rubus idaeus.

Liver Tonics

Liver tonics are often used when conditions such as irritability, headaches, acne and constipation are confined to the premenstrual phase of the cycle. This is often thought as an imbalance in the hormone levels caused by a relative oestrogen excess. Liver tonics aid the clearance of oestrogen from the body.

Nutrition

There are a number of nutritional markers to consider when assessing menorrhagia. Iron levels should be checked and if low addressed. It has been known for some time that anaemia can be a cause as well as an effect of menorrhagia. Researchers have shown that women who had heavy periods also had depleted iron stores, but not necessarily anaemia. Fat soluble vitamins A and K levels should be optimised.

In Health,
Gabriel

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