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Menopausal Years, the Wise Woman Way

Susun S. Weed

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:
² 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."

² Menopause is not a recent phenomenon, but an ancient women's mystery, with special gifts for the woman who uses its energies wisely.

² 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.

² The levels of hormones in a woman's blood are never higher than when she is in menopause.

² Herbal hormone (phytosterols, or phytoestrogens) are usable by the body and, in contrast to prescribed hormones, protect against breast cancer.


For permission to reprint this article, contact us at: susunweed@herbshealing.com

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Susun Weed’s books include:




Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Author: Susun S. Weed. Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $14.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com





Healing Wise
Author: Susun S. Weed. Superb herbal in the feminine-intuitive mode. Complete instructions for using common plants for food, beauty, medicine, and longevity. Introduction by Jean Houston. 312 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $17.95
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at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com




NEW Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way

Author: Susun S. Weed. The best book on menopause is now better. 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. Introduction by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $16.95
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at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com
For excerpts visit: www.menopause-metamorphosis.com



Breast Cancer? Breast Health!

Author: Susun S. Weed. Foods, exercises, and attitudes to keep your breasts healthy. Supportive complimentary medicines to ease side-effects of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or tamoxifen. Foreword by Christiane Northrup, M.D. 380 pages, index, illustrations. Retails for $21.95
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at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com






Down There: Sexual and Reproductive Health the Wise Woman Way
Publication date: June 21, 2011
Author: Susun S. Weed Simple, successful, strategies cover the entire range of options -- from mainstream to radical -- to help you choose the best, and the safest, ways to optimize sexual and reproductive health. Foreword: Aviva Romm, MD, midwife, 484 pages, Index, illustrations. Retails for $29.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

Susun Weed's Video & CD's:

Weeds to the Wise DVD Video
Visit Susun's farm for a weed walk. Hear her talk on the Three Traditions of Healing. Make infusion with her. Fun! (1 hour VHS video) Please note: this VHS video tape is in NTSC format which may not be compatible with video players outside of the USA and Canada. Retails for $29.95


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Susun Weed, green witch and wise woman, is an extraordinary teacher with a joyous spirit, a powerful presence, and an encyclopedic knowledge of herbs and health. She is the voice of the Wise Woman Way, where common weeds, simple ceremony, and compassionate listening support and nourish health/wholeness/holiness. She has opened hearts to the magic and medicine of the green nations for three decades. Ms. Weed's four herbal medicine books focus on women's health topics including: menopause, childbearing, and breast health. Visit her site www.susunweed.com for information on her workshops, apprenticeships, correspondence courses and more! Browse the publishing site online at www.wisewomanbookshop.com to learn more about her alternative health books. Venture into the NEW Menopause site www.menopause-metamorphosis.com to learn all about the Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way.


 



 

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