A Virginia woman who treats her hormonal health issues with herbs and plants claims she has ‘never felt better.’

Ash Ruiz, 27, suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance that affects one in 10 women of childbearing age in the US, irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts, and excess levels of male sex hormones, which can cause abnormal hair growth.

She tried birth control and ‘tons’ of pharmaceutical treatments but turned to alternative medicine after taking classes in medical botany in college, using plants like echinacea for digestion and mullein for bronchitis.

Ms Ruiz claims: ‘I feel more in balance with myself.’

She isn’t the only one experimenting with natural remedies. Figures show that nearly one-third of Americans have tried some type of alternative medicine, including herbs and acupuncture.

Ash Ruiz, 27, an herbalist from Virginia, turned to alternative medicine after taking classes in medical botany in college. She now uses them to treat her polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Ash Ruiz, 27, an herbalist from Virginia, turned to alternative medicine after taking classes in medical botany in college. She now uses them to treat her polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Ms Ruiz was diagnosed with PCOS at age 14 and had been taking birth control to regulate her menstrual cycle. 

However, when she tried raspberry leaf tea and chasteberry vitex- an extract from the Mediterranean plant chasteberry- she said she felt ‘like myself again.’ 

Ms Ruiz claims that these remedies, which also include red clover and stinging nettle tea, rebalanced her hormones, calmed her anxiety, helped her irregular periods, and eased her headaches. 

She said that since trying these remedies, she will ‘never go back’ to using traditional medicines alone.

‘I’ve been on tons of different meds from a really young age, but now I feel more in balance with myself,’ she said. 

‘I was put on birth control from a really young age – and now I’m constantly trying to find natural ways to regulate my hormones.’

Ms Ruiz was diagnosed with PCOS after her parents took her to a gynecologist for her irregular menstrual cycles. As a teenager, she would go as long as four months without a period. Scans revealed ‘a lot’ of cysts in her ovaries. 

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects one in 10 American women of childbearing age, according to the US Office on Women’s Health. It causes the ovaries to produce excessive amounts of the male sex hormone androgen due to cysts forming along the outer edges of the organ. 

This leads to irregular menstrual cycles, abnormal hair growth, acne, obesity, thinning hair, and infertility. 

Doctors put Ms Ruiz on birth control, which she took for about seven years. 

‘None of us knew any better, so when I was put on birth control, I just took it, and it was horrible from then on,’ she said. 

‘I used to have migraines, irregular periods, weight gain, anxiety – so many symptoms, the list goes on.’

‘And birth control just made it so much worse – I did not feel like myself.’

Ms Ruiz's herbs of choice to ease PCOS symptoms include chasteberry vitex, St John¿s Wort, and raspberry leaf tea

Ms Ruiz’s herbs of choice to ease PCOS symptoms include chasteberry vitex, St John’s Wort, and raspberry leaf tea

Ms Ruiz claims that herbal remedies make her feel 'like herself again' and that she 'never go back' to using traditional medicine alone

Ms Ruiz claims that herbal remedies make her feel ‘like herself again’ and that she ‘never go back’ to using traditional medicine alone

In 2017, Ms Ruiz began studying medical botany at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

She liked how ‘different’ it seemed from the other areas of study and poured all her research into St John’s Wort – a plant used to treat depression, burns and cuts, among other conditions.

‘From then on, I felt like it was meant to be,’ she said. 

‘I was trying out a juice cleanse anyway, for my PCOS symptoms. It all just kind of tied together, really.’

Soon after trying herbal remedies, she noticed her anxiety faded away, making her think, ‘this is the real deal.’ 

‘I saw such a huge improvement in my energy levels – as fatigue was one of my symptoms, too,’ she said. 

‘I’ve seen such drastic improvements in my cycle – my periods are more frequent with a lot less pelvic pain and discomfort.’

Six years later, Ms Ruiz studies herbalism alongside running a medicinal herbs business.

Her herbs of choice to ease PCOS symptoms include chasteberry vitex, St John’s Wort, and raspberry leaf tea.

‘I’d tell anyone to try raspberry leaf for hormones,’ she said. ‘Even pregnant women.’

‘Some people prefer to take it as a tincture, but I always steep it in hot water and make a tea.’

‘It’s a uterine tonic, which means it helps to tone and strengthen the uterus – even though I had extremely irregular periods with PCOS, when I did get it, it would be very heavy and painful.’

Chasteberry, also known as vitex agnus-castus, has been shown in some studies to boost fertility and reduce symptoms of hormonal conditions like menopause. However, much of the research is unclear. 

For example, a 2015 study in the journal International Immunopharmacology found that an active compound in the plant, called Casticin, could reduce inflammation in animals. However, the study also found that over-the-counter medications like aspirin work just as well. 

St John’s Wort is a European plant with yellow, star-shaped flowers. Some research has suggested that it may help reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate depression, but there is no evidence that shows it could treat more severe forms.

Raspberry leaf tea is a tea made from the leaves of raspberries. It can also be taken in pill form. Some studies suggest it can be used to make labor go faster and reduce pregnancy symptoms like nausea and vomiting, though there is no solid evidence.