Support for the Menses and the Heart
Day 1 Tea originated as a tea to help the body ease from premenstrual to bleeding time.
Sometimes this transition can be a little bumpy. We feel tired yet restless, tense and irritated. Perhaps we have physical symptoms like a breast tenderness, lower belly and/or lower back tenderness and pain or even straight up menstrual cramps.
Soon after I made this tea and it’s many varieties, I felt a broader application for this tea beyond supporting a body with a menstruating uterus. This is no surprise because herbs have a wider application that Western modern reductionist thinking would lend. This is also no surprise because from a Chinese medicine perspective, the Heart and Uterus are energetically and physically connected by their own vessel or channel called the Bao Mai. More about that in another post!
Day 1 with the Motherwort and Hawthorn combination has become a favorite for supporting the emotional body as well, specifically the heart center. I reach for this herbal tea when I’m emotionally overwhelmed or my empathic boundaries need a boost.
How do we know when our emotional body is overwhelmed? That will vary from person to person. Only you know the answer to that.
Typically for me, that often happens when I keep thinking about something emotionally triggering, whether that is personal, something with my family or friends, a movie, memory or book, or something going on collectively or with current events. When I check into my heart center through somatic practices or body awareness, I feel a LOT of things belonging out there residing in my heart space.
The main symptom I have, besides noticing the continual and repetitive thoughts and feelings that I can’t turn off, is not sleeping well (because I can’t stop thinking about XYZ).
Empathy is important. The goal is not to turn off the heart’s ability to feel. It is essential that we allow ourselves to be compassionate and to consider the feelings and experiences of others, or of yourself at a time in the past.
I also think sometimes it is therapeutic to stay up at night ruminating about what makes our heart heavy. It’s those types of experiences that prompt us to change our lives, and to commit to making this world a better and more just place for all.
I don’t believe that protective herbs like Motherwort, Hawthorn Berry, Yarrow and Rose put up a wall between us and the world. Instead, they assist the functional emotional protection already in place. They hold the natural boundary space that delineates “us” from “out there” when that boundary has been overwhelmed. They can also help us hold the intensity of the feelings we have, helping us see them more fully.
I often think of herbs for protection when a person has been worn down in some way, like through illness, raising young children, continual trauma or oppression, a history of personal or vicarious trauma or prolonged stress. Sometimes, people are just really sensitive and haven’t been bestowed all that it takes to manage being emotionally porus.
Day 1 – Gentle Blood Moving and Heart Center Supportive Tea
- Raspberry Leaf
- Milky Oats
- Rose Petals
- Bai Shao White Peony root
- Hawthorn Berry
- Rose Hips
- Cinnamon, Licorice and Ginger
Blend roughly one part of each of the herbs except for the Cinnamon, Licorice and Ginger, which I make about 1/3 part each.
Steep in boiling water, covered, for a hour or longer, as long as overnight.
Milky Oat is nutritive dense and does well in a long steep to fully extract the nutrients. The hard root of Bai Shao/ White Peony can also be in a long extraction.
In hot weather Milky Oats will ferment quickly, so I would steep it and let it be in the fridge if I wasn’t drinking it quickly.
I make about a quart at a time. First, I steep the tea about 30 minutes before straining off a cup. I often really need some of that Motherwort and Yarrow like yesterday! I let the rest of the tea steep longer. A few hours I may strain off another cup. That evening or the next morning, I will drink the remainder and then do another infusion from the same tea marc (the marc is the leftover menstrum, or herbal material).
The second steep lends more of the Licorice, Bai Shao/ White Peony, Hawthorn, Rose Hips and spices into the tea. The taste is richer, a lot sweeter and more harmonious. Drinking this second steep feels more gounding to me, those rooty notes allow me to settle lower into my body – which feels extra supportive during menstruation – or anytime.
Explanation of the Herbs
As a lower Jiao warming, Blood and Ki Qi nourishing and ever-so-slightly Blood moving herbal tea, Yarrow and Motherwort are my usually my chief herbs. If I am focusing on emotions or the heart center, Hawthorn Berries and Motherwort are the chief herbs – and I’ll add Linden and Hawthorn leaves and Flowers, too.
Yarrow is here to help guide the blood to do what it wants to do. If it’s time to begin menstruation but the blood is thick, stuck, sluggish, Yarrow can invigorate the blood and perhaps guide it out.
Motherwort is another Blood Moving herb, but with a heart and emotional smoothing affinity. Motherwort gives me the giggles. After drinking a tea with Motherwort during the premenstrual time, I often find myself laughing a lot. It lightens heaviness and shows it a way out.
Milky Oats have been added to support the Kidneys (capital ‘K’ means a Chinese medicine concept and function), because I originally made this for someone with dysmenorrhea with underlying Kidney Qi Xu (Deficiency), and I find Milky Oats to support the adrenals quite nicely.
Mineral-rich herbs are sometimes used as part of a general toning herbal strategy. Raspberry Leaf is added for this reason, and Rose Hips, too. They are nutritive herbs for sure. Rose Hips is rich in Vit C and supports the blood. Raspberry Leaf is a restorative tonic with a lower abdominal or uterine signature. Both are sour and sweet. Herbs like this can help reduce crampy pain and spasms. Sometimes during day 1 (or longer), digestion can be messed up. Loose stools, upset stomach, crampy intestines along with the uterus. Not fun. Milky Oats and Raspeberry leaf can help soothe the digestive tract, too, especially when combined with other middle jiao supportive herbs like Bai Shao/ White Peony Root, Hawthorn Berries, and the warming and aromatic spices.
Bai Shao/White Peony Root is a Cool, Sour and Sweet herb in the Move Blood category within the system of Chinese herbal medicine. Bai Shao tonifies Spleen Qi to support digestion, and helps move stuck and stagnant Liver Qi. The state of Liver Qi stagnation can contribute to menstrual cramps as the blood does not flow as freely, breast tenderness, mood swings and general irritability and anger during the pre-menstrual period.
I feel that Bai Shao/White Peony is very supportive to the womb and the “womb space” even in people who do not have wombs. In Chinese medicine it is said that Bai Shao is motherly to the Spleen, which itself is an Earth Organ along with the Stomach. The Spleen provides the foundational support and holding for Postnatal Qi (in short, Postnatal Qi is the Qi we have available to us for our life which is derived from food, where Prenatal Qi is the Qi we came into this body with from our parents held in the Jing Essence, part of which can seen in our genetics).
Yes, Bai Shao/ White Peony is very motherly to our motherly attributes and spaces within us, but it extends to people of any gender identity or experience, womb or not. We all have a part of us that holds, nurtures, gestates, tends and essentially feeds ourselves, others, a place and ideas and dreams…and if that part is under-resourced, burdened or not functioning properly, we get drained. Our Qi is not supported. Bai Shao bolsters the giving part of ourselves to ourselves.
Roots are hard to fully decoct in an infusion like this tea, so the full range of medicinal actions are not brought to their highest potential within this tea.
But yet I can still taste the sour and sweet earthy Bai Shao in this tea, and I can feel their grounding soothing actions, so I know it’s doing something. You can always grind roots in a coffee grinder prior to making an infusion. The smaller size increases available surface area and lets the herb extract more readily.
Hawthorn Berries are here to further support the Blood. There’s that capitalization again. I’m talking about Blood from a Chinese concept here, The Heart, Spleen and Liver all help regulate the movement and formation of Blood. Hawthorn supports the upper part of Blood regulation by allowing the Heart to feel supported.
Rose…what can I say? Rose is a Liver Qi mover and a heart opener, too.
But what I appreciate about Rose in this formula is that they make it taste so very yummy. I love the medicine of Rose for sure, but I also really love the harmonizing traits of Rose in tea blends. Rose accentuates the flavors of other herbs and helps them all play well together.
The warming spices are not only delicious but they harmonize the formula. Ginger, Licorice and Cinnamon bring elements of circulation to the tea and further support digestion.
There’s much much much more to these herbs than what I wrote. For instance, Cinnamon has indications for both circulation and menstrual disorders. Licorice tonifies Qi. Ginger has strong anti-inflammatory activities.
Feeling over Facts
I’m trying to be brief – not my strong point.
I am also being deliberate about not getting caught up in all the details about this tea. With this tea in particular, I focus on how it moves around the body in a felt sense.
Facts are great.
But how does it feel? How does it taste? How does it smell? What inspired me about this tea?
Thanks for reading, herb friends.
Take good care,
PS I am offering herbal and health consults now (it’s July 2020).
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in a (free) 20 minute call about your health goals and challenges, and how I might be able to support you during this time.
At the beginning of COVID I extended this offer to those on my email list and now I’d like to extend it to you, too.