Almost every woman has, at one time or another, felt
so fatigued she wanted to cry. But for some women, and
for a variety of reasons -- including menopause,
caring for a new-born, working odd hours, chronic
anxiety, and poverty, to name only a few -- fatigue is
a constant, not an occasional, problem.
Stimulants don't really give us more energy, though
they are what many women turn to when they feel too
tired. Stimulants create false energy, leaving us more
exhausted at deeper levels. One more cup of coffee, one
more soft drink, one more jolt of fear increases
energy, to be sure. But these choices also deplete our
bones of their minerals, weaken our core energy, and
prevent truly restful, restorative sleep. Even herbal
stimulants, like cayenne and guarana, are, well,
stimulants. They push us too hard and erode our
Are there ways to boost energy that are effective and
healthy? My guide, Grandmother Growth, gave me some
ideas of how to help myself when I feel bone-tired.
And I gathered together the best remedies I know, plus
the wisdom of my Wise Woman friends, so you can help
yourself, too, when you are too weary for words.
"Fall into my arms and sleep," offers
Growth. "You don't have to make things happen; they
will happen on their own. Let me hold you. Let go.
Don't resist. Rest. You are working hard. You are
delving deep and changing yourself. Of course you are
tired. Change is hard work. Rest in my strong arms.
Let go. Give your weariness to me. Let go of all that
worries you. Surrender yourself into my strength. Take
courage from me. Let me support you. Let me ease you.
Extreme fatigue indicates a profound need to do
nothing. Ask family and friends to give you a day
totally off . . . and take it! Barricade yourself in
your room if need be (or, like the cartoon character
Sylvia, in the bathroom).
Be gentle with yourself. The internal processes
that occur during puberty, motherhood, menopause or
any other profound change in your life require
tremendous amounts of energy. Even if you provide
yourself with very high quality nutrients and use your
energy wisely, you may still feel unreasonably tired.
Many cultures offer newborns and moms a quiet, alone
month or more, allow menopausal women to retire for a
year or more while they Change, and give grieving
parents/partners/children/friends time off from
responsibility. If yours doesn't, if you can't, at
least be gentle with yourself.
Give yourself a break: Every hour, take a 60-second
break. Breathe deeply; stand up and stretch; drink a
glass of water or some herbal infusion. Schedule a
regular time to meditate or take a nap every day.
Small frequent rests help more than an extra hour of
sleep; but do both if you can.
Set aside an hour a week to do something indulgent
for yourself: a long soak in a hot bath, a manicure, a
walk alone in a beautiful place. Nourish yourself and
you will have more energy to give to others.
Treat yourself to a massage once a month. (It need
not break your budget; find someone willing to barter
for a skill or product you have.) A skillful massage
releases tension, helping you get more benefit from
your sleep and downtime, thus liberating more energy
and helping you begin the upward spiral into increased
"Lower your standards." This advice, though
difficult to hear, has been one of the most important
guidelines for me in choosing a life that delights and
energizes me. It helped me choose to let the floor go
upswept, the dishes unwashed, the bed unmade, while I
gardened, or studied, or even just went for a walk in
the woods. When I do the things I want to do I have
LOTS more energy. What are you doing that saps your
strength and erodes your delight in life? Find a way
to quit, or at least cut down on the time you devote
List ten good things about fatigue, laziness,
lethargy, and procrastination. I've found laziness to
be my best guide to efficiency; lethargy has stopped
me from taking foolish risks; and procrastination
helps me find more efficient ways to proceed. Love and
honor your fatigue for helping you conserve energy and giving you the
time to find creative new ways to do
the same old things.
Seaweeds of all kinds help restore
nourishing nervous, immune, and hormonal systems. Make
it a habit to eat seaweed as a green vegetable at
least once a week. Try kelp in your oatmeal, wakame in
your beans, kombu in your soups, hijiki salads,
toasted dulse, sea palm fronds, and deep-fried nori!
Counter that tired-every-day feeling: Get down and
get grounded energy from roots. Try a tincture of
ginseng, siberian ginseng, yellow dock, or dandelion
roots. A dose is 10-20 drops of any one root, taken
You may need more iron: eat a spoonful
of molasses or try a dropperful of yellow dock
tincture several times a day.
Stir it up! Don't just sit there!
attracted to energy. Get moving this way: Stand up,
feet shoulder-width, knees relaxed. Swing your arms
toward one side, then the other. Let the shoulders and
hips move as you twist your upper body. Let your arms
move freely. Continue for a minute or two. Then, start
rocking your tail bone, your whole pelvis, forward and
back, forward and back, again for at least a minute.
Green is the color of plant energy.
The plants with
the deepest green give you the most energy. A daily
cup of nettle infusion increases energy without wiring
your nerves. Nettle strengthens the adrenals, allowing
you to tolerate more stress with less harm. And it
nourishes your immune system, too. To make it: Put one
ounce of dried nettle leaf in a quart jar. Fill to the
top with boiling water. Cap tightly and steep at least
four hours (overnight is fine). Strain and drink.
Refrigerate the remainder and consume within 36 hours.
(Leftovers may be used as a hair rinse or fertilizer
for your house plants.) I drink several quarts of
nettle infusion every week. It helps me have the
energy to teach all day and write for hours each
Oatstraw infusion builds deep energy
for the next
day, especially when you have been riding an emotional
roller coaster. Oatstraw nourishes the nerves, easing
anxiety and improving our ability to live with
uncertainty. Make it like the nettle infusion, using a
full ounce of oatstraw to a quart of boiling water. Ok
to drink it hot or cold, with honey or miso, or any
other addition (juice, coffee, whiskey) you desire.
Remember to refrigerate the infusion after it has
brewed 4-8 hours, even if you don't get a chance to
strain the plant material out.
Eat more. When you're too tired
to eat, you get more
tired. (If this sounds like an old wive's tale,
remember that old wives were the wise women. But,
actually, it's the latest scientific thinking.) In
addition to at least one really good meal a day, eat
high quality snacks hourly.
Though it seems contrary, St. Joan's wort
(Hypericum) tincture relaxes the nerves yet increases
energy. A dose is 25-30 drops several times a day,
including before bed. You'll sleep better, ache less,
and wake up with more energy and a brighter outlook on
Warming herbs such as ginger and cinnamon increase
energy (but may increase hot flashes, too). Make a tea
with 1 cup/250 ml boiling water and 1/2-1 teaspoon
(1-2 grams) of the powder of any one of these.
Very tired women need more fuel, that is, more fat,
in their diets, and best if the fats are also natural
sources of vitamin E: avocados, peanut butter,
sunflower seeds, tahini, and olive oil are good food
sources. Herbs rich in vitamin E include nettle,
seaweeds, dandelion, and watercress.
B vitamins build energy. Find them in
organ meats, sweet potatoes, avocados, egg yolks,
fish, and whey. Both oatstraw and nettle infusions are
good sources of B vitamins, as are red clover blossom
infusion, peppermint leaves, and fenugreek seeds.
Low levels of potassium, iron, and iodine contribute
to fatigue. Celery, cabbage, seaweeds, nettle
infusion, and red clover infusion are excellent
sources of potassium. Molasses, chocolate, seaweeds,
nettle infusion, and dandelion leaves are all superb
sources of iron. For iodine, seaweed shines, but sea
salt, mushrooms, and greens grown in gardens
fertilized with seaweed also supply significant
Some women report greater fatigue on days when
they've eaten frozen or raw food. Traditional Chinese
Medicine says eating raw or chilled foods, especially
cold drinks and raw juices, contributes to fatigue
because you have to use your internal energy to warm
up the food before you can digest it. The more tired
you are, the greater your need for well-cooked foods,
like nourishing herbal infusions and healing soups.
I avoid wheat grass juice, green barley powder,
spirulina, and all blue green algae. None are as
nourishing as nettle infusion, and all are
considerably more expensive, more difficult to make
yourself at home, and more likely to be sold through
"Energy-producing" foods/drugs/herbal supplements
such as coffee, guarana, caffeinated drinks, and
excessive amounts of black tea or chocolate will
create greater fatigue in the future.
"Rest your head down on me," crones
Growth. "For this moment, rest in me. Let the energy
of the earth infuse you. Let my energy carry you. Let
yourself be enough. Let go."
This article is based on material found in New
Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way, Alternative
Approaches for Women 30-90.
Wise Woman books are available at www.wisewomanbookshop.com
NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way:
Alternative Approaches for Women 30 - 90
by Susun S. Weed
Foreword by Juliette de Bairacli Levy.
304 pages, index, magical illustrations.
Completely revised with 100 new pages. All the remedies women know and trust plus hundreds of new ones. New sections on thyroid health, fibromyalgia, hairy problems, male menopause, and herbs for women taking hormones. Recommended by Susan Love MD and Christiane Northrup MD.
Retails for $22.95
read some excerpts :
Building Better Bones
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"If this book had not been given to me by a close friend, I would be experiencing menopause in an entirely different manner. The Wise Woman approach to the various and unexpected discomforts and joys of the Change has motivated me to seize this experience to transform my life for the better."
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