Menopausal Years, the Wise Woman Way
Menopause is a period of transition and metamorphosis, like puberty. It consists of three stages: isolation, melt down, and emergence. Each stage calls forth new energies and new perceptions of ourselves. Each stage has different demands, different tasks, and different needs.
Wise Woman ways, such as simple ceremony, compassionate self-care, and daily use of dooryard plants, can be of tremendous benefit to women going through menopause. Please allow me to share with you some of my favorite herbs for easing hot flashes, sleeplessness, and other distresses of The Change. They’re easy to find; you may already know them as weeds! These plants, and their cautions and contraindications, are described in detail in my book Menopausal Years, The Wise Woman Way. Please refer to it before you decide whether or not to use any of these green allies to aid you during your menopausal years.
Calcium intake during and after menopause must be high to maintain health. But calcium in pills can’t compare to calcium in plants when it comes to maintaining healthy, flexible bones. Bones are made of a dozen minerals besides calcium (potassium, manganese, magnesium, silica, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, phosphorus, sulphur, and chromium), all of which are found in rich supply in the roots and leaves of edible weeds and herbs. Eating weeds is my preferred way of preventing osteoporosis and insuring freedom from heart disease, depression, headaches, leg cramps, and joint pain.
There are scores of calcium/mineral-rich plants to choose from, such as the aromatic leaves of sage, peppermint, lemon balm, bergamot, rosemary, and thyme; the cooked or fresh greens of lamb’s quarters, amaranth, dandelion, chicory, comfrey, stinging nettle, chickweed, parsley, watercress, kale, collards, and cabbage; the flowers of red clover; and the roots of yellow dock, dandelion, chicory, and burdock.
For maximum extraction of mineral richness, I cook with these herbs, drink them as infusions, and steep them in vinegar. (See Old Sour Puss Mineral Mix in my book, page 256 , for recipe.)
Seaweeds have incredibly generous amounts of calcium and minerals, too. I make it a practice to eat seaweeds such as kelp, dulse, and nori daily, as condiments, and a seaweed such as wakame, hijiki, arame, and kombu once a weed, cooked with carrots or in a soup. I feed seaweed to my goats in the form of powdered kelp and to my plants in the form of a liquid emulsion. That’s why we all have shiny hair, sleek skin, bright eyes, and lots of energy.
Hormones are a hot topic for menopausal women. To help myself with hormonal surges and drops, I prefer to use tinctures of plants rich in plant hormones (phytosterols) rather than prescribed hormones (estrogen replacement or hormone replacement), which actually elevate the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, contrary to advertising, and are linked to increases in breast and uterine cancers. Women whose blood is rich in plant hormones have the lowest rates of cancer in the world. Plants rich in phytosterols include: roots of dong quai, ginseng, wild yam, black cohosh, black haw, dandelion; flowers of hops, yarrow, red clover; leaves of stinging nettle, sage; berries/seeds/hips of chaste tree/vitex, fenugreek, roses.
Favorite herbs for menopausal women:
Oatstraw infusion (Avena sativa) strengthens the nerves, helps reduce emotion distress, promotes sound sleep, keeps the bones and heart strong, and strengthens libido. The tincture is a stronger sedative but not nourishing to the bones and heart. Oats for breakfast is an excellent way to “take” this herb, but avoid pills and capsules. Oatstraw baths are exceptionally calming. Instructions for making one are in my green book: Healing Wise.
Nettle infusion (Urtica dioica) strengthens the adrenals, eases anxiety, increases energy, helps prevent night sweats, builds blood, protects bones and heart. Eating cooked nettle is another excellent way to gather its benefits, as is nettle vinegar. I avoid freeze-dried, encapsulated, or tinctured nettle, believing all these forms ineffective and over-priced.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) — tincture of the fresh flowering tops — is a favorite with menopausal women, their daughters and their mothers. A few drops (up to 25 at a time) will calm emotions, relieve heart palpitations (and strengthen the heart), reduce the severity of hot flashes, increase vaginal lubrication, moderate and eliminate PMS and menstrual cramping. Motherwort vinegar is a fantastic tonic, and tasty, thank goodness. The tea is violently bitter and disliked by 99 out of 100 women, including me, yuck.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)– any part, in any form — is a superb strengthener for the liver, the control center for hot flashes. Dandelion improves digestion, especially of calcium, helps relieve headaches, and sees to it that the liver provides steady blood sugar supplies. Dandelion wine (from the blossoms) is the most elegant way to take this remedy, but the cooked leaves and vinegars (as well as the pickled parts) of the roots and/or leaves are also excellent nourishing digestives. The tincture, especially of the root, is considered the strongest medicine, but doesn’t contain bone-building nutrients, so is less ideal than the other forms.
Startling facts about menopause:
– The Grandmother Hypothesis maintains that “menopause, like a big brain and an upright posture, is one of the essential traits of the human which allowed us to colonize the world.”
– Menopause is not a recent phenomenon, but an ancient women’s mystery, with special gifts for the woman who uses its energies wisely.
– Estrogen is not one hormone, but many, and our bodies continue to make estrogens all of our lives. The adrenals, the fat tissues, and perhaps the uterus make estrogens.
– The levels of hormones in a woman’s blood are never higher than when she is in menopause.
– Herbal hormone (phytosterols, or phytoestrogens) are usable by the body and, in contrast to prescribed hormones, protect against breast cancer.
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What are menopausal years?
Menopause is a point in time 12 months after a woman’s last period. The years leading up to that point, when women may have changes in their monthly cycles, hot flashes, or other symptoms, are called the menopausal transition or perimenopause. The menopausal transition most often begins between ages 45 and 55.
How does menopause begin?
Menopause has happened when you have not had any period for an entire 12 months. Your doctor can check your blood for follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The levels will jump as your ovaries begin to shut down. As your estrogen levels fall, you’ll notice hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and less lubrication during sex.
How long does menopausal last?
While menopause symptoms will disappear for most women four to five years after their last cycle, symptoms can occasionally surface many years later in a mild form. Hot flashes are one of the most common menopause symptoms that women experience years after the disappearance of most of them.
What are the top 10 signs of menopause?
10 Common Signs of Menopause
* Absence of period for 12 months.
* Hot flashes.
* Night sweats.
* Mood swings and irritability.
* Difficulty sleeping.
* Cognitive changes (difficulty remembering names, directions, losing focus/train of thought)
* Vaginal dryness.
* Vaginal/vulvar itching.
Can a woman get pregnant after menopause?
After menopause, a woman no longer produces eggs and thus cannot become pregnant naturally. But although eggs succumb to this biological clock, pregnancy is still possible using a donor egg.
How do you confirm menopause?
Sometimes, elevated follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels are measured to confirm menopause. When a woman’s FSH blood level is consistently elevated to 30 mIU/mL or higher, and she has not had a menstrual period for a year, it is generally accepted that she has reached menopause.
What are the worst symptoms of menopause?
* The most severe symptoms among the participants were trouble sleeping, night sweats, and irritability.
The survey showed that:
* 94.5% had difficulty sleeping.
* 92% felt forgetful.
* 83% had hot flashes.
* 87% experienced irritability.
* 85.5% had night sweats.
What men menopause called?
The “male menopause” (sometimes called the andropause) is an unhelpful term sometimes used in the media. This label is misleading because it suggests the symptoms are the result of a sudden drop in testosterone in middle age, similar to what occurs in the female menopause.
Can a woman Orgasim after menopause?
Orgasms — and great sex — are still absolutely possible, through menopause and beyond. A few small changes can go a long way toward increasing your pleasure during sex — solo or partnered — and boosting physical and emotional intimacy with your partner(s).
Can periods restart after menopause?
Bleeding after menopause or “postmenopausal bleeding” (“PMB”) can be defined as the resumption of vaginal bleeding at least 6 months after a woman experiences her last menstrual period.
Where does the sperm go after menopause?
Menstrual periods are considered to cleanse the body of semen. If women have intercourse after menopause, it is believed semen will remain in the body and produce stomach bloating and then death.
What foods make menopause worse?
Foods That May Worsen Menopausal Symptoms
* Processed Foods.
* Spicy Foods.
* Fast Food.
* Fatty Meats.
What foods reduce menopause symptoms?
The following foods can help strengthen bones and relieve menopause symptoms:
* Dark green leafy vegetables, especially spinach and kale.
* Fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna.
* Flax and chia seeds.
* Broccoli and cauliflower.
* Blueberries and other dark berries.