Inducing a Menstrual Period Naturally with Emmenagogue Foods & Herbs
A woman's menstrual cycle is usually around 23 to 32 days, with menstrual bleeding usually starting about two weeks after ovulation. However, it is not unusual that a period, or menstruation, sometimes starts earlier or gets delayed. A delayed period can cause anxiety to women who are sexually active but not trying to get pregnant. If the possibility of a pregnancy is overruled, a delayed period can still be annoying. Pregnancy aside, there are many possible reasons for a late period, including stress and illness.
So if your period is late again and you're sure you're not pregnant, is there anything you can do to bring on a late period? Any natural ways to induce a period? Perhaps some foods or herbs that are good for delayed menstruation? The purpose of this article is to give you answers to questions like these. Note that the potentially emmenagogic foods listed in this article may also be abortifacient (causing miscarriage), so avoid them if you are, or might be, pregnant, or at least talk to your doctor before eating them.
List of Potentially Emmenagogue Foods
Scientific backing for claims that certain herbs and foods can induce a period is lacking; however, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and folk wisdom suggesting that some foods can help start a late period naturally. Emmenagogue foods, or emmenagogic foods, are foods and herbs that have been reported to stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area and uterus and that are believed to stimulate menstruation.
One famous potential emmenagogue is parsley (Petroselinum hortense), which has been used in folk medicine for centuries as a uterine stimulant to induce labor and to bring on delayed periods. It has even been used as an abortifacient with the hope of aborting unwanted pregnancies. Considering that parsley contains apiol (also known as parsley camphor) and myristicin, two natural substances that are known to stimulate contractions of the uterus, there may be some truth to the anecdotal claims that parsley and parsley tea can induce a menstrual period.
Like parsley, celery is known to contain apiol and has been claimed to have emmenagogic effects. In addition the parsley and celery, there are a number of other foods and herbs that folk healers and herbalists have recommended as a natural way to bring on a menstrual period. The list below provides an overview of potential emmenagogic foods:
- Both flat leaf and curly parsley contain apiol and myristicin which are known to stimulate contractions of the uterus. Folk healers around the world have touted parsley tea as a "remedy" for delayed periods.
- Celery stalks and leaves are said to work much in the same way as parsley to induce menstruation.
- Cumin belongs to the same Apiaceae family of plants as parsley, and cumin seeds are commonly used as a natural uterine stimulant in India.
- Angelica root, or Dong Quai, is yet another member of the Apiaceae family that has been claimed to bring on a delayed period. This root herb is also recommended to people who suffer from menstrual cramps or menopausal problems. It is a key ingredient in Yogi Tea's Woman's Energy, an all-natural herbal tea blend claimed to balance female hormones (Woman's Energy is available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
- Many herbalists claim that fenugreek seeds encourage menstruation. These aromatic seeds are also recommended to breastfeeding mothers who want to increase milk supply.
- According to some natural healers, extracts from rue, an evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean region and some parts of Asia, have been used internally as an abortifacient, emmenagogue, and a treatment for menstrual cramps.
- Some people claim that eating papaya or drinking papaya juice can help induce menstruation. It has been suggested that the purported emmenagogic effect of papaya might be linked to the high amounts of carotene and vitamin C found in this healthy food. Also papain, an enzyme present in papaya, may play a role.
- Baked and ground root chicory has been used as a coffee substitute, particularly in poorer economic areas. It is also claimed to contain compounds that can help start the onset of menstrual flow.
- Aloe vera juice is a digestive aid that is commonly used to calm an upset stomach. Aloe vera juice is also said to have emmenagogic and abortifacient effects.
- In Asia, licorice root, which is known to contain phytoestrogens, has been used as an emmenagogue, galactogogue (capable of inducing or increasing lactaction) and aphrodisiac.
- Pomegranate is another food that is known to be rich in phytoestrogens and that has been used as a dietary emmenagogue and uterine stimulant.
- The common kitchen herbs basil, rosemary, sage, marjoram, and oregano have been used as emmenagogues in some cultures.
- Cinnamon has been reported to be a uterine stimulant when consumed in high doses. Women in Asia have also used cinnamon to curb heavy menstrual bleeding.
- Make an emmenagogic infusion from dried chamomile flowers. Chamomile tea has been claimed to encourage mensturation and cause miscarriages when drunk in high amounts.
- Hyssop, a slightly bitter herb that is used to spice up soups, salads and meats, has been described as an emmenagogic and abortifacient herb.
- In herbal medicine, burdock root is often recommended as a blood purifier, but it is also thought to be a uterine stimulant.