Emmenagogues: Are they or are they not?

The term emmenagogue is widely used to describe plants that are used for
a range of conditions in the female reproductive system. It has, unfortunately,
come to imply a remedy that has some kind of effect on the functioning or
tissue of the reproductive system. Strictly speaking the emmenagogues
are remedies that stimulate menstrual flow and activity. In most herbals
today the term is used in the wider sense of a remedy that normalizes and
tones the female reproductive system. Such a broad definition is almost
meaningless, as it obscures the wealth of diversity these herbs offer. Such
remedies provide a whole range of distinct actions that can be used for
the reproductive system either directly or indirectly.

It is important to identify the primary tonic herbs and then see how they
impact this system in addition to their toning effects. From the list of
`emmenagogues’ that follows we shall select the most valuable tonics and
explore their differential indications. For more details on the secondary
actions of the whole list please refer to the section on Emmenagogues in
the actions section.

Herbal ‘Emmenagogues’

Achillea millefolium —– Yarrow

Anemone pulsatilla —– Pasque Flower

Artemisia abrotanum —– Southernwood

Artemisia absinthium —– Wormwood

Artemisia vulgaris —– Mugwort

Calendula officinalis —– Calendula

Caulophyllum thalictroides —– Blue Cohosh

Chamaelirium luteum —– False Unicorn Root

Cimicifuga racemosa —– Black Cohosh

Gentiana spp. —– Gentian

Hydrastis canadensis —– Golden Seal

Hyssopus officinalis —– Hyssop

Lavandula officinalis —– Lavender

Leonurus cardiaca —– Motherwort

Marrubium vulgare —– Horehound

Marsdenia condurango —– Condurango

Marrubium vulgare —– Chamomile

Mentha piperita —– Peppermint

Mentha pulegium —– Pennyroyal

Mitchella repens —– Partridge Berry

Petroselinum sativum —– Parsley

Rosemarinus officinalis —– Rosemary

Rubus idaeus —– Raspberry

Ruta graveolens —– Rue

Salvia officinalis —– Sage

Salvia officinalis —– var. rubia —– Red Sage

Senecio aureus —– Life Root

Tanacetum parthenium —– Feverfew

Tanacetum vulgare —– Tansy

Thymus spp. —– Thyme

Tilia spp. —– Linden

Trillium erectum —– Beth Root

Trigonella foenum-graecum —– Fenugreek

Tropaeolum majus —– Nasturtium

Valeriana officinalis —– Valerian

Verbena officinalis —– Vervain

Viburnum opulus —– Cramp Bark

Viburnum prunifolium —– Black Haw

Vitex agnus-castis —– Chasteberry

Zingiber officinale —– Ginger

Attempting to clarify this situation, here is a list of the more toning
`emmenagogues’ in terms of their main impact on this fundamental body process.
Remember that all bitters will have an emmenagogue effect in the strict
sense of the word. If this is not immediate evident please review the section
on bitters.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021