Amenorrhoea (Absent Periods)

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Finding a good herbalist

Much of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

Treat the Cause

Most of my own experience in practice in this area has been in treating secondary amenorrhoea, which is when the menstrual cycle has previously been established but has now completely or partially stopped for some reason. However, primary amenorrhoea, where the cycle has not yet started, and the young woman is getting to 16 plus years of age, often has the same roots in issues related to the diet, hormones or excess stress.

Amenorrhoea has consistently been seen to be very responsive to holistic medicine, and there are clearly some exceptional allies in herbal medicine that can help to re-establish a healthy menstrual cycle. I will give a short list of the herbs I have personally seen help in this area but firstly, as with any condition, as much as we can treat the cause of the problem is as much as we can cure it. The following are widely regarded as the most common reasons for amenorrhoea

Failure to thrive

Failure to thrive is where the young woman has been a fussy eater since she was little, or has some kind of digestive disorder, that has prevented her from putting on enough weight to go into puberty. Whilst the two case histories in the article on this subject demonstrate a successful approach in younger children, much of the same principles, and herbs, can equally apply to a teenager - more here


Anorexia can be the root cause where there were good eating patterns and a healthy weight leading into puberty, but she has now started obsessive dieting or exercising. Anorexia is a serious and heart-wrenching problem for all concerned, but it can be well met by a holistic approach - more here

Thyroid imbalance

Thyroid imbalance should always be ruled out by a comprehensive blood test that includes a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level under 3.0. If thyroid imbalance is the cause of amenorrhoea, then it will be far better to use herbs and minerals to restore the thyroid to health than to commence a course of replacement hormones in drug form that will need to be taken for the rest of her life - more here


Anaemia should always be ruled out with a simple blood test. No-one can be in any doubt that a lack of iron in the blood can lead the body to stop itself from bleeding further. An iron supplement is appropriate in such a case and if it is all that was needed then the problem will soon be solved. However, what is less well known is that the anaemic person is rarely deficient in iron alone and that there are other nutritional deficiencies that can also lead to amenorrhoea. If there are signs of poor nutrition in the hair, nails and skin and if her diet could, in all honesty, be a lot better, then the best article to read on this site may be the one that talks about healthy eating - it's here

Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is almost a certainty if the woman has the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). If she has a combination of signs that include putting on excess weight around her abdomen (the apple shape), raised blood pressure, and/or raised blood fat levels, then it is also highly likely that she has been born with the genetic tendency to the metabolic syndrome, something that can disrupt her hormones to the point of amenorrhoea, and something that is entirely curable with a holistic approach - more here

Stress & Anxiety

Stress & Anxiety are also leading causes of both primary and secondary amenorrhoea. Much can be done to quickly and significantly reduce stress and anxiety with some widely available herbs and some simple and practical steps to treat the cause - more here

Hormone imbalance

I lastly want to mention that the single biggest factor in the women I have met with amenrrhoea in my own practice has been the long term use of oral or injectable contraceptives. The amenorrhoea seems to be much worse, and potentially longer lasting, if there was a history of some kind of menstrual or premenstrual problem that led to the use of medications, but it has also come up simply from using the pill etc. for many years purely for contraception too.

The use of herbs such as described below has usually been tremendously helpful in such cases, they help the body to re-establish its natural cycle, often quickly too, but especially if there was a history of menstrual or premenstrual problems prior to using medications, it is likely that a treatment program that addresses the causes for this will needed to at last some degree.

These issues are too complex, and too important, to summarise here. Rather, take the time to study the comprehensive articles that go into the practical detail that may be necessary for there to be a lasting and positive result. For the woman whose main issue in the past was getting dysmenorrhoea, i.e. painful periods, read here, for the woman whose main trouble leading up to amenorrhoea, or the medications that later may have helped to cause it, was the premenstrual syndrome - read here

Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste tree)


Herbs that may help

Note that the following are just some personal favourites; my probable starting points, if you like. There are a number of other herbs that may work as well or better for the individual woman, which is another reason to recommend you consider finding an experienced practitioner to work with you in person if this is possible.


Top of the list for me is, without doubt, Vitex agnus-castus, also known as Chaste tree of Chasteberry. I feel certain that it has the potential to do more to help more women with amenorrhoea than any other herbal or nutritional medicine. However, and this is crucial, the amounts that I might prescribe in practice to get a result in this area could be as much as 10 times stronger than what is commonly found in a commercial product of Vitex. No one herb, or other substance, works for everyone but, if trying Vitex for amenorrhoea, I think it is very important to be open to starting at a robust dose level and then going even higher if nothing happens within the first 2 months of using it. This important herb should be learned about in more depth by anyone thinking of using it - more here

Dong Quai

This herb is revered in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its widespread benefits to women's health. As a nourishing herb that helps to both build and move blood, it can be considered to be a remedy that has much to offer amenorrhoea and I will often combine it with Vitex as part of a starting treatment program, along with whatever else we may be doing to treat the cause. Again, it needs to be used in generous amounts to achieve a sure effect - more here


Rue is a herb that must be used in moderate doses and with great care not to cause toxicity, however, it is also one of the most potent herbs we have to stimulate the uterus into renewed activity when it has become stuck, stagnant or inactive. Detailed notes, including suggestions for safe dosage levels, are written up on this site and a way in which I have found it to be particularly effective for both painful and absent periods, is in combination with a group of herbs we call 'women's tea' - more here

Liver herbs

I didn't mention this under the main causes for amenorrhoea, but no-one should underestimate how much a liver that is not working at optimal health can be contributing to any kind of hormonal imbalance within the body. The liver, along with the brain, acts as a great regulator of many of our circulating hormones, determining how much oestrogen, for example, remains in circulation and how much gets taken out. There are some exceptionally important herbs for the liver that we use a great deal in all kinds of conditions, this subject, and some of the herbs that are most widely used and recognised, is discussed here


Constitutional Health Note

Finally, you might benefit from learning about your constitution to know what kind of foods, herbs, exercises etc. will work especially well for your health in general.

There is a brief introduction to the subject here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd