The Medical Herbalist Helping Women Have Better Periods Naturally
Natasha Richardson is a powerhouse redefining women's relationships with their periods. After a painful history with her own period, she developed ways to improve women's cycles through medical herbalism and self-care rituals. In the process, she's created a new conversation around women's bodies, cycles, and health, dismissing taboos and helping women discover their own power. And bonus! Today she's launching her next Peaceful Period Course to teach you how to go with the flow of your menstrual cycle and how to use herbs, diet and home remedies to abate common period problems.
What drew you to becoming a medical herbalist?
Movies like Merlin and Practical Magic drew me into herbal medicine. I fantasized about being about to make magical potions from what grew around me. Like I had magical powers.
What was the process of training to be a medical herbalist like?
It was a grueling 3 year degree. It was massively scientific and I often questioned why I was putting myself through it all. But the herbs kept talking to me. The changes I saw them make in my patients was amazing. It doesn’t just heal them, but a bit of you (the practitioner) as well.
We live in a society that doesn’t always have faith in natural, holistic treatments. Have you ever had difficulty validating your line of work to others?
It’s actually very rare that people say they don’t believe in it to my face. I often find that when they are subtly skeptical that by the end of a conversation where I explain two thirds of current medicines derive from plants, they’re won over. I’m not an absolutist either, I think herbs and drugs can work side by side. Which probably makes my messages easier to digest.
You’ve found that the most significant contributor to period pain is stress. Can you explain this relationship a bit more and how stress affects our periods?
Through my own experience and then research I discovered that cortisol (a stress hormone) competes with progesterone (a period/pregnancy hormone) and so when you’re stressed you can’t have periods or get pregnant. Stress also makes you make worse food choices and this leads to inflammation and tension. This combo was the number one thing which made my period pain worse. I now teach the relationship between stress and period wellness to others.
Can you explain your process and how you work individually with clients?
I work one to one with patients when they have had a period problem for a while. We work together for 3 months, looking at why it began, what patterns lead them on that path, and how to use diet and lifestyle to make sure it doesn’t recur again. The herbs are a catalyst, or fork in the road, to finding a more balanced path in life.
You educate and empower women in a way that is all too often neglected in schools and society. Why is this work important to you?
It’s important to me because it’s so common and because the neglect comes from our long history of patriarchy and misogyny. Now that we’ve made so much progress in those areas we are realizing the less obvious side effects to that environment. Such as, period taboos.
There are so many options for birth control out in the world. Are there any that you recommend?
Yes I am a massive proponent for the Fertility Awareness Method. It’s just as effective (or more effective) than condoms, it’s drug free, and it requires the person to get in touch with their bodies at an incredible level. If the discipline of charting isn’t for you though, I think barrier methods and IUD’s (copper or hormonal) are great alternatives to the contraceptive pill which can cause subtle changes to our mental wellbeing.
What are some herbs that are particularly good for dealing with period symptoms, and why?
Lady’s mantle is a great all-rounder. It helps with period pain, heavy bleeds and gently balances the reproductive system. It helps bring women into alignment with their uterus and connect with their inner power/goddess. I include it in my Goddess drops for these reasons.
What is the one thing women can start doing today to begin their journey to having more comfortable periods?
Start charting. Keep a diary of physical symptoms you experience each day on a table which shows a month at a time. This way you can compare what happens for you at different times of your cycle. It’s hard to remember monthly patterns, but you’ll be gob-smacked by how much is linked to your cycles when doing this for 2-3 months.
Natasha's Peaceful Period Course launches today! Sign up and book your enrollment here