Emmenagogue (Raktabhisarana Karma)

These are remedies that stimulate and regulate menstrual flow and function. Uterine tonics and hormonal normalizers can often be included in this group.

Emmenagogues help promote and regulate menstruation (circulatory stimulants) and thereby treat many of the special disorders of the female reproductive system; these include PMS, Uterine tumors or infections. 

Emmenagogues are mostly pungent – to – bitter herbs that relieve congestion of the blood, clear blood clots and promote menstruation. They may be heating or cooling.

The female reproductive system is intimately associated with the blood, it is, therefore, Pitta in nature. Imbalances should be examined as increased or decreased Pitta conditions. Emmenagogues that are cooling in nature are better for increased Pitta  and those that are heating in nature for decreased Pitta.

A predominance of cooling emmenagogues is better for menstrual irregularities owing to such conditions as uterine infections or bleeding. Such herbs also help calm high emotions, anger and irritability. A predominance of heating emmenagogues is better for delayed menstruation due to exposure to cold (such as amenorrhea after quitting the pill), over exertion or nervous anxiety.

Emmenagogues may also be antispasmodic, relieving uterine cramping and pain. Those which are diuretic treat premenstrual water retention. Those which are hemostatic are better for excessive menstruation.

Typical heating emmenagogues: angelica (Dang Gui), asafoetida, cinnamon, ginger, parsley.

Typical cooling emmenagogues: chamomile, hibiscus, manjistha, musta, primrose, rose flowers.

Emmenagogues work largely by increasing ApanaVayu, the downward moving Vata governing elimination, urination and sexual functions. As such, they tend to be laxative and promote the discharge of the fetus. Hence, many are contraindicated during pregnancy.

Another group of emmenagogues are those which are tonic or rejuvenative to the female reproductive system. These are a subcategory of tonic, rejuvenative and aphrodisiac herbs. They are mainly sweet herbs that build the blood, moisten and nourish the female reproductive organs, and so treat conditions of organ weakness due to disease, poor nutrition or the effects of aging.

Typical tonic and rejuvenativeemmenagogues: angelica, licorice, peony, rehmannia, shatavari, wild Yam.


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