Menopause, Nutrition & Lifestyle

The Wisdom of Herbs: Herbal Supplements for Women’s Wellness

by Nikki Warren on Feb 28, 2024

The Wisdom of Herbs: Herbal Supplements for Women’s Wellness

 Interview with Laura from Ode to Self


  1. What is PCOS and what common symptoms may women experience?

PCOS stands for Polycystic ovary syndrome, and essentially means there are multiple cysts on the ovaries. Without getting too much into the science, this is mostly due to an over-production of follicles (small fluid filled sac that contains a growing egg) and a lack of ovulation (release of a matured egg) (1). Although this syndrome is classified as a reproductive condition, it often affects many areas of health, not just the ovaries!

The most common symptoms include irregular periods, acne, excess face and body hair, difficulty falling pregnant and blood sugar irregularities, which contributes to fluctuations in body weight (1).

To formally diagnose PCOS, a doctor or specialist will need to review your symptoms and request an ultrasound and specific blood tests.


  1. What are your favourite herbs for treating PCOS and why?

Oh, there are so many! And it very much depends on the client’s symptoms. However, my favourite herbs include peony and licorice. This delightful duo has shown to reduce testosterone, a key hormone that contributes to the symptoms of PCOS (1, 2).

Another herbal hero for PCOS includes gymnema. This herb can promote blood sugar stabilisation which is an extremely important factor in the management of PCOS (3).

A herb that is easy and safe to implement is spearmint tea. Studies have shown that drinking approximately two cups of spearmint tea (not peppermint) can reduce testosterone and insulin levels in those with PCOS – who said medicine can’t be delicious! (4).


  1. What do you like about saffron for PMS?

When working with clients suffering from PMS, saffron can be an absolute superstar. It is easily one of my favourite herbs.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) includes a range of not-so-fun symptoms, with fluctuations in mood being one of the most common. This is generally due to a sudden decrease in progesterone, which subsequently can reduce serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), two of our ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain (5).

Saffron has proven to improve mild to moderate anxiety and depression, particularly in women suffering with PMS – and with limited side effects (5). So as you can imagine, this herb gets quite the workout in my clinic, particularly when easing the mental toll of an imbalanced menstrual cycle.


  1. Stress and poor sleep can impact women’s wellbeing. How do you use herbal medicine to support sleep and stress in women? What are your go to herbs for this?

Herbal medicine can be so effective for my stressed and sleepless ladies! As I’m sure we are all aware, chronic stress and limited sleep are a recipe for unhappy hormones, mood, skin, gut health and more! So it’s a very important factor to address.

I will generally prescribe herbs such as zizyphus and passionflower, alongside guidance on sleep hygiene practices (bedtime scrolling, I’m talking about you here!) and stress management techniques. Both zizyphus and passionflower can assist anxiety and act as a mild sedative, without ‘knocking you out’ and making you feel groggy (6,7).


  1. Tell us a bit about yourself/clinic and why you chose to be a Naturopath. What does women’s wellness mean to you and how do you support women’s wellness in your practice? (Link to bio)

I launched my online platform ‘Ode to sélf’ around 5 years ago and started consulting 3 years ago. I mostly specialise in digestive health and its influence on women’s health, particularly conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS, PMS, acne, IBS and mental health. 

My past health experiences of suffering and healing from IBS, acne, anxiety, anorexia nervosa and thyroid cancer (It’s been a journey!) have all contributed to the ‘how and why’ of Ode to sélf.

In my eyes, women’s wellness encompasses many aspects, with adequate education and autonomy being the most integral. I absolutely love providing women holistic solutions to their symptoms and providing education to help empower them on their healing journey.



Instagram: @ode.toself



  1. Park MJ, Han SE, Kim HJ, Choi HJ, Ha KT, Yang SW, Lee KS, Kim SC, Kim CW, Joo BS. Paeonia lactiflora improves ovarian function and oocyte quality in aged female mice. Animal Reproduction. 2020 Jul 8;17.
  2. Sun H, Wang J, Lv J. Effects of glycyrrhizin on the pharmacokinetics of paeoniflorin in rats and its potential mechanism. Pharmaceutical biology. 2019 Jan 1;57(1):550-4.
  3. Jangam A, Kotipalli RS, Patnaik SS, Kasireddy B, Gaja SK, Sreedhar B, Jerald MK, Addlagatta A, Muralidharan K. Gymnema sylvestre extract improves PCOS by altering the YAP1 protein in the mouse ovary via mitochondrial changes. Phytomedicine Plus. 2023 Nov 10:100515.
  4. Shen W, Pan Y, Jin B, Zhang Z, You T, Qu Y, Han M, Yuan X, Zhang Y. Effects of tea consumption on anthropometric parameters, metabolic indexes and hormone levels of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Frontiers in endocrinology. 2021 Dec 13;12:736867.
  5. Rajabi F, Rahimi M, Sharbafchizadeh MR, Tarrahi MJ. Saffron for the management of premenstrual dysphoric disorder: a randomized controlled trial. Advanced Biomedical Research. 2020;9.
  6. Bae GY, Ahn Y, Hong KB, Jung EJ, Suh HJ, Jo K. Sleep-Enhancing Effect of Water Extract from Jujube (Zizyphus jujuba Mill.) Seeds Fermented by Lactobacillus brevis L32. Foods. 2023 Jul 27;12(15):2864.
  7. Janda K, Wojtkowska K, Jakubczyk K, Antoniewicz J, Skonieczna-Żydecka K. Passiflora incarnata in Neuropsychiatric Disorders—A Systematic Review. Nutrients 2020, 12, 3894.

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