Celebrate International Women’s Day With These 5 Herbs for Women’s Health

Published on March 08, 2023

By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.

It’s International Women’s Day, a day to come together and celebrate women’s achievements, struggles, friendships, history, and incredible power.

Herbalism is a practice that women have generally dominated for centuries throughout many countries and cultures.

From the original midwives who provided prenatal care and attended births in the most primitive conditions to the community herbalist who made house calls with her satchel of herbs and potions, women have always had their hands in the wellness arts.

This article shares some of the best herbs to support women’s health in celebration of women everywhere.

Specifically, we’ll look at five helpful herbs that promote:

  • Thyroid health*
  • Heart health*
  • Brain health*
  • Energy*
  • Immunity*
  • Hormonal health*
  • Sleep*
  • Joint and bone health*
  • Fertility*
  • Menopause*

We call them “wise woman” herbs because they support various aspects of women’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Note: In this article, we refer to biological women as women, due to the scientific studies mentioned. We support all genders and sexes, and these herbs can be used by any person. As always, please speak with your healthcare professional before taking any new supplements or medication.

5 Herbs for International Women’s Day

Women tend to have a superhuman ability to encompass a wide variety of responsibilities.

This is never more evident than when a woman leaves her family or workplace for a few days—or even an afternoon—and everyone is left scrambling to try and keep up with her basic duties.

However, although women can take on a lot, busy schedules and the demands of caregiving do take their toll.

For example, although biological women generally live longer than men, they are more likely to suffer from persistent health issues.REF#802

Research has also shown that women are more than twice as likely as men to suffer from stress and anxiety and experience stress more intensely than men. REF#803 REF#804

Fortunately, self-care tools and rituals, like eating healthfully, exercising, and taking these wonder woman herbs, can help promote resiliency, balance, and optimal health.

Herb #1: Maca Root

Maca root, also known as Peruvian Ginseng, is considered by many to be the “queen of herbs” for women’s health.

Maca is an adaptogenic root cultivated and used as food, currency, and medicine in the Andes mountains of Peru for approximately 2,000 years. REF#805

Adaptogens are a class of herbs that promote a healthy and resilient stress response.*

Maca root has been traditionally used for various aspects of women’s health, including fertility, menstruation, energy, menopause, stress-related issues, libido, hormonal concerns, and endurance.*

Science has discovered several nutrients and active plant compounds in Maca, such as antioxidants, alkaloids, polysaccharides, prostaglandins, sterols, aromatic isothiocyanates, vitamins, and minerals.REF#806

It is believed their influence on various organs and bodily systems, such as the Hypothamalus Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) axis and HPG (Hypophysis Pituitary Gonad) axis, can provide potential benefits for various aspects of women’s health, including:

  • Fertility REF#807 REF#808
  • MenopauseREF#809 REF#810 REF#811 REF#812
  • Hormonal healthREF#809
  • Stress responseREF#809 REF#813 REF#814
  • Adrenal healthREF#813
  • LibidoREF#806
  • Bone healthREF#815
  • Cognitive functionREF#816

These days, Maca root is typically consumed as a powder added to baked goods, smoothies, and hot drinks or taken in capsule form.

Gaia Herbs has several formulas containing Maca for women’s health, including:

Learn more about the history and science behind Maca root in:

Herb #2: Schisandra

Schisandra, also known as “the ultimate superberry” is another adaptogenic herb used extensively for women’s health in Traditional Chinese Medicine.*

Schisandra berries are unique in that they have five distinct flavors: sour, bitter, sweet, acid, and salty. 

It is believed these five flavors work synergistically to promote overall physical, mental, and emotional health and vitality.*

Plant compounds in Schisandra berries, such as lignansREF#817and antioxidants, have been demonstrated supportive actions on various systems related to women’s health including:* REF#816

    • The liver REF#817: Schisandra has demonstrated liver support and protective properties.REF#818 The liver influences women’s thyroid and sex hormone metabolismREF#819 as well as digestion and skin health.REF#819
    • The metabolic system: Via gut microbiota,REF#820 which plays a role in hormonal health and weight.
    • The hormonal system: Via its phyto-estrogenic (plant estrogen) effects, which can bind to estrogen receptors (ERs) and support various aspects of hormonal and breast health.REF#821
    • The immune system: This plays a role in thyroid health, resilience, inflammatory response, and vitality. REF#822
    • The central nervous system: This is central to stress response, mental/emotional well-being, and sleep.REF#823
  • The brain: By acting as a potential neuroprotective.REF#824

More research is needed to understand the rich history of Schisandra’s use in traditional wellness practices.

Gaia Herbs offers Schisandra in:

Herb #3: Ashwagandha

If Maca Root is the “queen of women’s herbs,” then Ashwagandha would be the “empress,” equal in power and influence.

This ancient adaptogenic plant is used extensively in Ayurveda and has become popular in the West.

Its traditional uses include stress; menstrual difficulties such as PMS or irregular periods; adrenal health; sleep; immunity; thyroid support; sex drive; energy; and cognitive function.*

Ashwagandha is also considered a nervine, which supports the nervous system, making it a staple for supporting women under stress.*

Modern science has identified over 50 chemical constituents in Ashwagandha, including steroidal alkaloids and lactones, collectively known as withanolides.REF#825

It is believed withanolides are responsible for much of Ashwagandha’s beneficial actions, which include:

  • Sexual functionREF#826
  • Adrenal health and cortisol levels (which relate to stress response)REF#827
  • Thyroid healthREF#828
  • Sleep quality, duration, efficiency, and latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) REF#829REF#830REF#831
  • Mood and occasional anxietyREF#832
  • PerimenopauseREF#833
  • Hormonal balanceREF#834
  • Bone health during menopauseREF#835
  • Cognitive function and memory REF#837 REF#836
  • Exercise performance and recoveryREF#838

In other words, Ashwagandha may be a busy woman’s best friend.

Learn more in: 

Discover the benefits of Ashwagandha in these Gaia Herbs products:

Herb #4: Vitex (Chasteberry)

Menstrual challenges are not uncommon among biological women of childbearing age.

Whether it’s cramps, mood swings, bloating, trouble sleeping, breakouts, or crazy food cravings, nearly everyone experiences occasional period woes.

Although they may not have discussed it as freely, our ancestors also experienced menstrual challenges.

The only difference in their approach is they turned to herbs for relief.

Vitex, also known as Agnus Castus or Chastetree, is one of those time-tested herbs that have been used for women’s health since the time of Hippocrates.REF#839

Vitex was traditionally used as a tea, tincture, or poultice to address cramping, irregular periods, PMS, hormonal balance, acne, fertility issues, and overall health in women of childbearing age.*

Researchers have found evidence that Vitex works by supporting normal levels of prolactin, luteinizing hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone, all of which influence various aspects of menstruation and overall hormonal balance.REF#840 REF#841

Studies have shown Vitex can help reduce symptoms of PMS, including:REF#842REF#843REF#844

  • Acne
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Hyperhydration (bloating)

It’s also been shown to be potentially helpful for irregular periods.REF#845

You can try Vitex in these Gaia Herbs products: 

To learn more about Vitex and other herbs for period support, see: Female Hormones & Menstruation 101.*

Herb #5: Nettles

Common Nettles, such as those found growing in the woods or on roadsides, have been used in herbalism for centuries as a nutritive and revitalizing tonic.*

Traditional herbalists often recommend large doses of Nettle teas and tinctures (or nettle-herbal blends) to help support normal iron and energy levels in menstruating and breastfeeding women,* a practice now recognized by science.REF#846

This is worth noting, as iron deficiency affects about 10% of American women due to losses from menstruation.REF#847

Nettles also contain a variety of other nutrients, such as:REF#848

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K 
  • Selenium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Various antioxidants

Due to their nutrient density, Nettles have also been consumed traditionally to promote healthy skin, hair, and nails.*

The research on Nettles is in its infancy. However, Nettles have demonstrated a potentially supportive effect on: REF#846 REF#849 REF#850

  • Aspects of hormonal function
  • Bacterial balance
  • Blood sugar balance
  • Fungal balance
  • Histamine response 
  • Joint health
  • Kidney function
  • Inflammatory response
  • Immunity
  • Prostate health (tell the men in your life!)
  • Respiratory health

Nettles grow wild in many parts of North America and can be easily foraged (but watch out for that sting! Not all species of nettles sting, but most types do sting and may produce a bumpy welt if touched. This is typically not harmful and goes away on its own, however, it’s wise to wear gloves when harvesting any type of nettle) or found at your local farmer’s market during Spring.

When preparing Nettles fresh, use gloves to avoid being stung, and consume them cooked, which takes away the sting.

For year-round access to Nettles, turn to high-quality teas and supplements.

Gaia Herbs offers several Nettle formulas containing certified organic Nettles grown on our herb farm in Western North Carolina.

Our selection includes:

Learn more about helpful herbs to support iron in A Nutritionist’s Guide to Iron Supplements.

It’s Time to Start Taking Care of You

Women have the smarts, flexibility, and ingenuity to take on anything. 

However, even the strongest women have been compromised by stress, burnout, and various health challenges.

Health is wealth. One of the best ways to maintain your health is by taking care of yourself as well as you take care of others.

Taking herbs, like the ones discussed in this article, is an easy way to nourish and support your body, mind, and spirit.*

However, herbs work best when combined with a healthy lifestyle. 

This includes eating a diverse, whole-foods-based diet, exercising, practicing relaxation techniques, spending time in nature, taking time for hobbies, prioritizing sleep, and cultivating community and friendships.

For more tips on women’s health in all seasons of life, click the links above and check out:


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