Natasha Richardson is a medical herbalist from South London. After suffering from period pain for years she founded a company that seeks to end period stigma and improve how women view their periods.
Can you start by telling us a bit about Forage Botanicals?
Forage Botanicals helps women have better periods by providing the sex-ed you should have got at school, along with a range of natural products to make your next period something to look forward to, not dread.
How did the idea come about?
While studying to become a herbalist I began to experience terrible period pain. It became so bad that I couldn’t do normal life for a day each month. This gave me anxiety about when my period would happen and it snowballed into a week of wanting to stay in the house, just in case. I spent many months experimenting with herbs, seeing herbalists and having therapies to find what worked for me. After realising that stress was the biggest contributor to my pain levels I started to educate others about this and create products to encourage rest throughout the month.
Your business really makes us think about the female cycle and periods in general. What’s the biggest misconception adult women have about their periods?
Most women think it’s just normal to hate your periods. I don’t think this has to be the case. In fact, it’s part of my mission to make sure the next generation doesn’t only view their periods as a curse.
We love that. What are some of the benefits of holistic and herbal remedies for dealing with PMS and period pain?
Herbal remedies are able to treat many things at once. This means you can find a herb which doesn’t just deal with your pain but perhaps poor sleep or digestion at the same time. When you view the body holistically these problems aren’t viewed as separate from each other but as two parts of the same problem. It makes it hard for me to recommend a single remedy for a single issue, but given the chance to understand someone’s case thoroughly, the effects can be dramatic and with none of the side effects of drugs!
Your gorgeous Blossom Self Care Kit is designed to ease and manage any PMS, menstrual migraines and period pain. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
The bath salts, candle and tea in the kit helps menstruators create a self-care ritual which encourages rest and relaxation. This is crucial to managing the daily stress we all deal with and allowing for the best possible period experience.
You also offer an online Period Peaceful, which focuses on teaching women how to deal with period problems naturally so you can have a more enjoyable experience. What do you cover during the course?
Over the course of 4 weeks, you are taught how to monitor your period using the fertility awareness method, how to track the symptoms you experience, how to use home and herbal remedies to treat problems you experience, and how to live your life in harmony with the natural changes of the cycle.
Do you think a holistic approach can even help manage hormonal conditions such as Endometriosis, Fibroids, Adenomyosis and PCOS or ease some of the symptoms?
I have treated many cases of endometriosis and adenomyosis and seen these either cease to get worse, get better or disappear completely. I have helped those with PCOS get back regular cycles in which they ovulate and are then able to conceive. I have never seen a Fibroid completely disappear but I have seen them reduce in size so that accompanying symptoms go away.
That is incredible! There’s been so much growing interest in the rise of cycle tracking and cycle alignment. Do you think this direction will be the future of understanding our bodies and our cycles?
I think that we need to be clear that some forms of cycle tracking are not as informative as others. The fertility awareness method is the best and most accurate way to track the cycle. It tells you when you ovulate, when you are pregnant, if you have too little progesterone and more. I think this information should be part of the national curriculum.
How can understanding our cycle in more depth help us? Such as activities for certain phases.
We currently expect the same from the workforce every day of the month, every month of the year. But the working world does not allow for rest. We see our busy-ness as a mark of achievement and rest as laziness. It means that our bodies get stuck in flight or fight mode and it contributes to many long-term illnesses. By understanding the natural ebb and flow of the menstrual cycle we can become a society which encourages rest as much as work. This has implications not just for those who menstruate but for those that don’t as well!!
What does the moon cycle tell us about the ebb and flow of female hormones?
The moon cycle follows a similar emotional up and down that the menstrual cycle does. The full moon helps us feel more outgoing while the new moon makes us seek a hermit life. The full moon is similar to ovulation and the new moon is similar to menstruation. This is a metaphor. It does not mean you are bleeding at the wrong time if you bleed at the full moon!
Finally, as a fellow female entrepreneur, who would you say are the women who inspire you and why?
I’m inspired by Brittany Nickerson a herbalist in the USA for reminding me how much I love 1970s aesthetic. She keeps it old-skool.
Thank you, Natasha! If you’d like to find out more about holistic menstruation management click here.