WHAT'S AN EMMENAGOGUE?
I am thinking a lot about blood right now, I am considering that it’s getting cold outside (but not with any kind of regularity...maybe now), it’s dark, and parts of me feel sluggish. My period is stalled and slow moving, my digestion is slow, plus i’m experiencing nausea whenever I’m reluctantly in a car (new for me), my daily bike commutes are colder, but not quite cold enough for mittens. All of this feels feels dubious, especially in my body.
So I’m gravitating toward ginger. Ginger is many things, among them a blood mover. But since I’m considering blood and how it relates to my reproductive system I’m thinking mostly about emmenagogues.
An emmenagogue stimulates the flow of menstrual blood.
The way an herb is an emmenagogue is unique. It is one effect on the body that an herb may have, among a bunch of other effects. Additionally, how or to what degree an herb is an emmenagogue depends on the other things it does in a body. No herb is strictly an emmenagogue. By affording plants a variety of precisely defined actions, we make room for all of the ways they make change in our bodies. Most plants do a lot of things, which is great because most bodies have a lot of things going on. Another way of saying this is, as David Hoffman writes, “In most herbals today [emmengagogue] 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.” Why make an herb just one thing? Or why make this one thing it’s good at the reason it’s good at anything else? Sound familiar?
I can safely take ginger for a longer period of time for the specific reason of relieving pelvic stagnation and stimulating my uterus, the only thing I have to be aware of is that it can be drying. As an emmenagogue, ginger can encourage the normal curve of my menstrual cycle by bringing blood to my "holding on" uterus : what I mean by this is if you are experiencing the kind of slow moving period that starts out brown then disappears maybe then comes back, then who knows, then ginger could be for you: it relieves stagnation by moving blood to places in our bodies that experience tension, helping them to relax. This time of year I get the added bonus of being warmed up by my tea before I head out on my bike! Putting off mittens just a little while longer....
I like to buy small amounts of ginger often. Especially now when it's available at the farmer's market. The fresh ginger at the farmer’s market is milder then the ginger in the grocery, which I prefer when taking daily tea. Here’s a simple how:
1-2 inch knob fresh baby ginger
8 oz hot water
1 teaspoon honey
Squeeze of lemon.
Wash and finely chop the ginger, put in a tea ball or bottom of a mug or jar to strain off. Let sit for 15 minutes. Then add your honey and lemon. Sometimes I just drink plain ginger water, it’s super delicious with our without the honey and lemon.