It can be debilitating to suffer from heavy periods. Luckily, there are effective natural solutions to address abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding. This article will outline the best nutritional supplements and herbs for heavy periods.
Heavy periods, also known as menorrhagia, are a common symptom many women experience each month. This prolonged and substantial bleeding affects approximately 10 million American women annually.
A period is considered heavy if it causes one or more of the following:
- It stains clothing or bedding.
- It requires a change of sanitary towels or tampons every 1-2 hours.
- It requires double sanitary protection like tampons and pads.
- You feel weak, tired, and sluggish during your period.
- You pass large blood clots as big as the size of a quarter.
- You bleed for more than 7 days.
Ultimately, something is not right when your period begins to interfere with your daily life.
A case study found that out of the 22% of women over 35 years with heavy bleeding, only 7% discussed their symptoms with their doctor. Also, 83% of women felt that their heavy periods were something they just had to live with.
Let’s set the record straight: heavy periods may be common, but they are not normal. You don’t have to live with abnormally heavy periods. Next, let’s discuss some of the underlying causes of heavy periods.
Underlying Causes of Heavy Periods
Heavy menstrual bleeding can be due to a variety of underlying factors. While supplements and herbs for heavy periods will naturally address your symptoms, you must also heal the underlying root cause.
Here are a few of the common root causes of heavy periods:
Estrogen dominance is a hormonal imbalance that occurs when estrogen levels are greater than progesterone levels throughout the menstrual cycle. If estrogen levels are too high, it can cause significant thickening of the uterine lining, leading to symptoms such as early spotting before menstruation, heavy and painful periods, blood clots during menstruation, PMS, and more.
Progesterone levels are often low or lower than normal in an individual with estrogen dominance. This can also be problematic because adequate progesterone is necessary to signal a stop to uterine growth and to keep the uterine lining intact for a longer period of time.
Related Post: Estrogen Dominance Part 2: Achieving Hormone Balance
Related Post: How to Lose Weight with Estrogen Dominance
Iron is essential for healthy blood clotting. Unfortunately, being iron deficient can be both a cause and a result of heavy periods. Women who suffer from heavy periods often end up with an iron deficiency. If you lose more than 80 ml of blood each month, getting enough iron from diet alone can be challenging. Consider adding an iron supplement to your daily regimen to increase your body’s iron stores.
Recommended Product: Check out my favorite iron supplement through my online supplement dispensary.
Endometriosis is a chronic, painful inflammatory condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Symptoms of endometriosis include moderate to intensely painful periods, cramps that send pain to the back or down the legs, painful bowel movements or urination, and pain with sexual activity.
Fibroids are abnormal growths that develop in or on a woman’s uterus. Fibroids are almost always benign, or noncancerous, in nature. Symptoms may include heavy and prolonged periods, mid-cycle bleeding, and pelvic pain.
Prostaglandins are lipid (fat) derived compounds that control processes like inflammation, blood flow, blood clot formation, and the induction of labor.
Specifically in the uterus, these prostaglandins promote muscle contraction each month so that you can shed your uterine lining (a.k.a. menstruation). In order to get your period each month, a normal amount of prostaglandin activity is necessary.
However, when prostaglandin levels become too high or uncontrolled in the uterus, it can lead to heavy periods. Studies have also shown prostaglandin inflammation to cause dysmenorrhea, or painful menstrual cramps.
Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis are common hormone disorders in women that can cause menstrual cycle changes ranging from skipped periods to very heavy periods.
Related Post: Best Herbs for Thyroid Health
Herbs for Heavy Periods
In addition to addressing the root cause of your heavy periods, herbs can be a fantastic remedy for abnormal bleeding. Using herbs for heavy periods can help control bleeding and restore healthy menstruation. Here is a list of the five best herbs for heavy periods.
Best Herbs for Heavy Periods
Vitex, also known as Chaste Tree Berry, is a popular herb for supporting hormonal imbalances and abnormal bleeding in women.
Vitex acts upon the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, and through a cascade of biochemical events, it can help shift the ratio of estrogen to progesterone. In fact, vitex will help increase the levels of progesterone in the body. Since progesterone inhibits the growth or thickening of the uterine lining, it will aid in reducing the amount of blood lost during menstruation.
In a study of 126 women with menstrual disorders, 58 women had a decrease in the number of heavy bleeding days after using 15 drops of vitex liquid extract three times a day for several cycles.
While vitex is a useful herb to help normalize and regulate the menstrual cycle, it is not a fast-acting herb and may take several months to achieve results. In my practice, I have seen more pronounced results with vitex after 2-3 menstrual cycles.
Shepherd’s purse is known for its ability to slow heavy bleeding. It has a long history of use with regard to gynecologic hemorrhage, or excessive bleeding of the female reproductive system.
There are also benefits for women with heavy periods due to its astringent properties. Herbs that have astringent properties can help reduce blood loss from the reproductive tract, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and skin.
One study found that women taking 1,000 mg of the anti-inflammatory drug mefenamic acid along with shepherd’s purse daily throughout their menstrual cycle resulted in significantly less menstrual bleeding compared to those who only took mefenamic acid.
Other research found that shepherd’s purse helped to reduce the symptoms of menorrhagia by supporting uterine muscle contractions, which results in less blood flow through the blood vessels in the uterus.
Shepherd’s purse can also be helpful for abnormally long menstrual cycles, cramping, and painful periods.
Due to its ability to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis, ginger may be considered an effective therapeutic remedy for abnormally heavy periods.
Inhibition of prostaglandins could explain ginger’s traditional use as an anti-inflammatory agent and its ability to effectively reduce blood flow due to heavy menses.
A study of 92 young women with heavy menstrual bleeding found that the level of menstrual blood loss dramatically decreased after taking ginger daily for three consecutive cycles.
Yarrow provides impressive benefits for women suffering from heavy periods.
Similar to shepherd’s purse, yarrow is another astringent herb that helps control uterine bleeding. Specifically, yarrow increases muscular tone and, therefore, is able to regulate blood flow to the uterus.
Additionally, yarrow helps soothe menstrual cramps due to its analgesic and antispasmodic properties.
Cinnamon is a common household spice used in cooking. It is also an effective alternative therapy for heavy menstrual bleeding.
A study on the effects of cinnamon essential oil on excessive menstrual bleeding found that the level and duration of menstrual pain and the amount of menstrual bleeding were significantly lower in the cinnamon group compared to the placebo group.
Another study found that cinnamon significantly reduced pain, the amount of menstrual bleeding, nausea, and vomiting in female college students.
Cinnamon doesn’t have any known adverse side effects and is considered a safe and effective intervention for heavy periods.
Safety Considerations When Using Herbs for Heavy Periods
Many herbs interact with both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Additionally, some herbs are unsuitable for pregnancy because they can cause uterine contractions and miscarriages. If you are on medication or are currently pregnant, please check with your primary care doctor and functional medicine nutritionist before adding any herbs to your daily regimen.
Nutritional Support for Heavy Periods
In addition to using herbs for heavy periods, you can also consider adding nutritional supplements to your diet to ease your symptoms. Here are some of the best supplements for heavy periods.
Iron deficiency causes the uterine muscles to weaken, reducing the ability of these muscles to clamp down on blood vessels, which is necessary to decrease or stop bleeding. Heavy bleeding can also worsen iron deficiency, which exacerbates the bleeding.
I strongly encourage working with a physician or functional medicine nutritionist to get your iron levels assessed. If you are deficient, starting an iron supplement can help minimize heavy bleeding due to an iron deficiency.
Vitamin A, also known as retinoic acid, helps regulate estrogen levels. Women with heavy periods are often deficient in vitamin A, and supplementation may bring estrogen levels back into balance.
One study found that 92% of women given supplemental vitamin A reported a significant reduction in menstrual bleeding.
A deficiency in B vitamins can impair the liver and reduce its ability to detox excess estrogen from the body. Supplementation with B vitamins may restore the liver’s ability to properly metabolize estrogen, reduce the incidence of estrogen dominance, and ultimately improve period health.
Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. High-dose vitamin C, along with bioflavonoids, has been shown to strengthen the blood vessels that reach the uterus and, therefore, help minimize bleeding.
In a small study with 18 women who had heavy bleeding, bleeding outcomes improved in 16 out of the 18 women who took both vitamin C and bioflavonoids.
Vitamin C can also assist with iron absorption, leading to better iron status and better periods.
Recommended Product: Check out my heavy periods support protocol through my online supplement dispensary.
Work with a Functional Medicine Nutritionist
If your period disrupts your everyday life, something is not right. Heavy menstrual bleeding can be scary and frustrating. Generally, heavy periods are a sign of a more significant issue at play, and it’s essential to get to the root cause.
As a functional medicine nutritionist, I work with women in my one-on-one consultation program to uncover the underlying causes of their hormonal symptoms. I’ll help you manage and reverse your hormone imbalances through lab work and personalized protocols.
Ready to heal your hormones? Apply to become a client today!