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  • Writer's pictureThe Bush Empress

Using Herbs To Support The Different Phases Of Your Menstrual Cycle

Understanding that the menstrual cycle is made up of different phases and doesn't just stop at bleeding is important for honouring your body and harnessing the power of cyclical living.

Women's underwear with a smashed flower to symbolize period blood

Have you ever come across the term moon cycle? Not the actual lunar phases but rather in relation to your menstrual cycle.

While for some the moon can represent an actual measure of our menstrual cycles, for many it may just be another reminder of our shortcomings. However, I like to see it as a metaphor for the different phases of our cycle. Menstruation is a cyclical process, just like the phases of the moon or the varying seasons we witness throughout the year (unless you live in a place without seasons as I do 😅).

Think about it. Rarely do we go through our cycles feeling the same throughout. There are moments where we may feel a little down, then a few days later our period turns up and there is an ah-ha moment! ☝️ Understanding our cycles is important, not only to track fertility but to understand our health. It also allows us to be able to plan our months a little better.

Comparing the four phases of our cycle to the four seasons or the four moon phases can allow for an easier understanding of where we are rather than trying to remember the clinical descriptions.

One thing for sure is that everyone is different - the inner seasons may resonate more with you, or the moon phases or even the clinical descriptions. Fear not! I come prepared with them all so that you can find what works for you and of course how to incorporate those supporting herbs.

*NOTE: our cycles are all unique and vary in duration, meaning that each phase length signified in this article may be a little different for you, the timings are simply for illustrative purposes.

Phase 1 - Menstruation (inner season: winter; moon cycle: new moon)

Length: Day 1 - 5(ish)

The Sciencey Part...

The first day of your bleed signifies the start of your cycle. This is when hormones drop, particularly progesterone which leads to the body releasing the unfertilised egg and endometrial lining, i.e. your period. Interestingly, this is also the phase stress hormones tend to be the highest compared to the other phases and you may start to feel tired and low on energy.

Inner Winter:

Think about how during winter animals tend to hibernate and things generally start to slow down. The same happens to the body during menstruation, you may notice that you feel the need to protect yourself from the outside world and that you become more emotionally sensitive.

🌑 New Moon:

This signifies a new beginning with the start of the new cycle. A time for reflection, introspection and being still.

Lifestyle Actions

You are bleeding 🩸 during this phase, and your body is being depleted, so it is important to slow down and nourish yourself. This doesn't necessarily mean taking a day off (though if you have this luxury then go ahead) but it can mean just having a moment of quietness, meditation, or practising some deep breathing. Maybe that social event can be avoided this time around so you can restore and replenish.

Herbs for Menstrual Cycle Support

If this phase is not supported correctly it can leave you feeling drained for the rest of the month. Warming teas and herbs are your friends for this phase! Think:

  • iron-rich herbs like nettle (Urtica dioica) and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale);

  • herbs to ease menstrual symptoms and inflammation like ginger (Zingiber officinale) and spearmint (Mentha spicata);

  • and uterine tonics to help tonify the womb, like red raspberry (Rubus idaeus).

Stinging nettle

If you suffer from period cramps then check out this blog post on Period Cramps: What's the Deal? And How to Relieve them Naturally!

Phase 2 - Follicular aka Pre-ovulation (inner season: spring; moon cycle: waxing moon)

Length: Day 6 - 14(ish)

The Sciencey Part...

After the dip in your hormone levels during your period, this phase sees a rise in those hormones again. The reason for the name follicular is due to the pituitary gland releasing Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). This particular hormone stimulates the follicles in your ovaries to get them ready so an egg can mature. Oestrogen now runs supreme! 💪 And you may notice a new burst of energy as a result. Testosterone is also on the rise and this can lead to you feeling a little frisky 😜

A vase of flowers by a sunny window with a book and cup
🌱 Inner Spring

As spring starts to see nature coming back to life with new growth, the same can be said for you! During this season, you might find that your clarity reawakens and your confidence renews ❇︎

🌒 Waxing Moon

This sees a new lease of life, a time to plant seeds, inspire change and reaffirm your intentions for the month.

Lifestyle Actions

Oestrogen can suppress your appetite, you may notice that you crave lighter foods - lean into that but also don't forget that you just went through a time of depletion so think nutrient dense! Get out and enjoy more physical activities and this is the time to unleash that creativity. For some this period can feel overwhelming with the sudden burst of energy, grounding and embodiment activities can help hone that in.

Herbs for Menstrual Cycle Support

As mentioned before, it is important to keep nourishing our bodies during this time, herbs are wonderful to support this especially when not feeling too hungry. At this phase, lean into:

  • blood-building herbs to help replenish what was lost such as nettle (Urtica dioica) and seaweeds;

  • phytoestrogens that can support the surge in oestrogen levels such as sage (Salvia officinalis) and red clover (Trifolium pratense);

  • and herbs to support the outward expansive feeling such as rose (Rosa spp.)

Phase 3 - Ovulation (inner season: summer; moon cycle: full moon)

Length: Day 14(ish)

The Sciencey Part...

During ovulation, an ovary will be stimulated by luteinising hormone to release a mature egg. As it makes its way down the fallopian tube, the egg has a mere 12-24 hours to survive. Oestrogen and testosterone are also at their peak during this phase and you may notice that you are vibrant and fertile, with your cervical mucus at its most abundant!

Inner Summer

Summer tends to be the time when everyone is out and about basking in the weather, socialising with peers and generally just feeling much better. The same is indicative of this inner season, you may feel much more energetic, sensual and sociable, harness that feeling!

A full moon

🌕 Full Moon

Ever heard of a full moon party?! With this phase of the moon cycle comes high energy vibrations and sexual desires. It is a time to feel free and celebrate.

Lifestyle Actions

Time to go to that social event, date night or even do that presentation you were dreading. With the surge in confidence, you may feel during this period, it's best to harness it into communicative activities. Engaging in more intense exercise is also a good way to release some energy. Bear in mind though that after summer comes autumn - a period of rest - don't get ahead of yourself!

Herbs for Menstrual Cycle Support

There is lots of energy during this time, and hormone levels and fertility are at their peak. Herbs should be used to support this, after all the menstrual cycle is all about this phase! Without ovulation it can lead to a cascade of negative effects, so focus on:

  • fertility-enhancing herbs think maca (Lepidium meyenii) and red clover (Trifolium pratense);

  • and herbs that will harness your energy, so you can pace yourself - think adaptogens like ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Phase 4 - Luteal aka Pre-menstrual (inner season: autumn; moon cycle: waning moon)

Length: Day 15 - 28(ish)

The Sciencey Part...

The last part of the menstrual cycle, and for some this can be the hardest. The luteal phase brings about a feeling of slowing down, this is due to the dominance of progesterone hormone and a dip in oestrogen and testosterone. If you have neglected or overstretched yourselves during the previous phases, it can show up as pre-menstrual symptoms as your period approaches! Cortisol, a stress hormone, is naturally elevated as well - this can make you a little bit more sensitive.

🍂 Inner Autumn

Everything starts to slow down during this season, leaves change colour and fall off trees while the world gets that little bit darker. You may feel more intuitive, home-bound and calm.

🌘 Waning Moon

This is a phase of transition into a time of self-reflection and solitude. The waning moon represents finalising things to completion and tying up any loose ends.

Lifestyle Actions

One thing that doesn't slow down during this phase is your metabolism! You may notice that you get hungry more quickly and start to crave certain foods (especially if you underate or had unbalanced meals during the previous phases). Your body is wanting nutrition, so honour it with nutrient-dense, warming foods! This is also a time for rest, so be sure to schedule that and hone back on the intense activities - think more yoga, walking and even a massage!

Herbs for Menstrual Cycle Support

The last and longest phase requires the most support. Honour your body so that you can harness your inner power and make this phase a little more pleasant. A few that can help are:

  • progesterone-supporting herbs, including evening primrose (Oenothera biennis);

  • herbs to support blood sugar, including cinnamon (Cinnamonum zeylanium) and tulsi/holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum);

  • and herbs to help with managing PMS, inflammation and the uterus, including ginger (Zingiber officinale) and red raspberry (Rubus idaeus)

6 jars of various dried herbs and teas

A menstruating body flows in the same way as our natural environment. The way the world is set up makes it even harder for us to show up in the various ways our body needs to. However, understanding our inner cyclical nature means we can honour our bodies as much as possible so that we can be the best versions of ourselves, throughout our personal moon cycles!

Enjoyed this post? Then please share and leave a comment below with what herbs you will incorporate into your cyclical routine?

A woman holding a menstruation cup with flowers


Thiyagarajan DK, Basit H, Jeanmonod R. Physiology, Menstrual Cycle. [Updated 2021 Oct 30]. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan.


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