Creating natural products for women, Forage Botanicals aims to help ease the pain of periods and the stress they can cause our bodies and minds each month. We chat with professional herbalist Natasha Richardson, the maker behind Forage Botanicals, to find out more about painful period remedies and the magic of British herbs.
Hi Natasha, why and when did you create Forage Botanicals?
I created Forage Botanicals last year to serve people with terrible periods as I've had. I'm a herbalist and have always made medicines for my patients partly by foraging - a process which connects me with nature.
What had you done previously?
Since graduating from uni in 2010 as a herbalist, I've helped patients dealing with period pain, endometriosis, PCOS and infertility. I've also taught people how to use the plants around them through medicine making workshops.
Why was it important to you to create products that helped with periods?
It literally took me years to find herbs, supplements and lifestyle changes that helped my periods. Period pain isn't something we learn much about school but 1 in 4 of us will experience it and have to take medication or time off work for it. I wish I'd been able to walk into a shop and get a natural remedy all those years ago and I aim to make such things available in the future.
Where and how do you source the herbs that you make your products with?
The ingredients in my products all come from British suppliers. I focus on herbs which are native to the UK as much as possible to reduce air miles. At the moment everything I've made is vegan as it's all plant based.
These are herbs which have been used for thousands of years to help with period problems. But I give them a tweak to suit the demands our modern lives have on us.
How do you create and test your products?
I have used my own journey and over 10 years of treating patients to inform the creation of my products. I have tested them on myself and given them to friends who suffer with severe period pain. I was lucky that my period pain wasn't caused by a serious illness like endometriosis but I give my products to people who do suffer with that to check they're effective at the extremes of symptoms too.
Which are your bestsellers?
My Goddess drops and Strengthen + Soothe powder. The Goddess drops are a botanical extract made with Raspberry leaf, Lady's mantle, Rose and Mugwort. This blend helps people embrace their bodies. You take drops of it on the tongue. Sadly with most period problems they go unnoticed for a long time, ignored as they only happen once a month. We tend to put it to the back of our mind, when they are usually a symptom of a bigger problem such as stress. Which leads into the second bestseller; Strengthen + Soothe powder. This is a blend of Ashwagandha, Oat and spices which can be added to smoothies, porridge and the like. It's delicious when added into a nut milk as a chai. It's adaptogenic which means it helps to strengthen your resilience to stress whilst also soothing your nerves. Good for the tired and wired.
We can imagine it's a hard question to answer, but do you have a favourite product?
I'm pregnant at the moment so I can't use my absolute favourite: Waning Moon Bath Salts, because they have clary sage in. As I can't have that, I've been really enjoying the Strengthen + Soothe powder instead!
Where do you make your wares? Does your location inspire you?
I make my products in my kitchen where I have access to hundreds of dried herbs, tinctures, essential oils and powders. The herbs inspire me as I can't help but imagine their taste and smell when I see them. It is intoxicating.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I usually start my day with a swim. It clears my mind and keeps me fit. Then I'll come home to a smoothie with some of my Strengthen + Soothe powder. I'll start my working day with setting up a to-do list in my calendar if I don't already have one. Then I run through it hour by hour. I flexibly change my priorities as things arise during the day. I like to work on my book in the morning, break for lunch then make products in the afternoon.
After my work day is done, I cook for myself and my husband's return from work. Then we both go and check on the allotment in the evening before settling into bed with a book and a cup of herbal tea. At the moment I'm having Elderberry syrup with hot water to keep my immunity up as the seasons change.
Sounds perfect! What's been your Forage Botanicals highlight so far?
I have most enjoyed writing my book on stress and menstruation. It's due for publication in a couple of years' time. I hope it can help raise awareness of common period problems and help people get the support they need rather than just accepting their lot as someone with ovaries.
That's exciting! Apart from the book, what's next for Forage Botanicals?
I will be crowdfunding in the next few months in order to launch my next product; a balm for cramps.
Describe your work in three words:
Wild, empowering, soulful
What are your making rituals?
I NEED a completely clear and clean surface. So important.
Tea or Coffee?
Herbal tea, duh!
Mountains or Sea?
Night Owl or Early Bird?
Early bird. That's why I do my writing in the morning!
I wish someone had told me...
To take imperfect action.
See more about Forage Botanicals at www.foragebotanicals.co.uk