Wise Woman Ezine with herbalist Susun Weed
July 2008
Volume 8 Number 7

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What's Inside Wise Woman Herbal Ezine this Month...

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Grandmother Speaks...
The Vulva, Part Two
by Susun Weed

The Vulva, Part Two
by Susun Weed

We are the first guardians of the inner treasures. We hold the keys to your creative power. Proudly we show ourselves, fiercely we protect.

the Art of Monica SjööWe look delicate, flowing and floating, waving and weaving — and so beautiful in our gowns of mauve and pink, pearl and coral. Like the blush of dawn, we blush. Like the glow of health, we glow. Like the dusky sky of evening, we are dusky. We are satiny. We are silken. We are velvety. We are smooth and strong. We are taffeta. We are suede. We are closely woven and tough. We are the ones who open and close the outer gates. We are the muses who sing to those who journey within.

We dance protection. We sparkle with joy. You call us lips, and like your lips, we have our moods. We mirror the health of what we enclose. When you feel abraded by life, we hurt. When you spread us without tender care, we cry. When you refuse to refuse on your own that which harms you, we scream in agony.

We will not be neglected. We will pin up our dresses and flash our red petticoats. We will scream. We will rage. We will burn with an unquenchable fire. We will wake you in the night. We will be heard. We will be respected. We will always, and ever, be here to remind you of your own worth, your own power, your own beauty.

 

Vulvodynia

“I endured a succession of unsuccessful treatments including electrocautery, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral medications, removal of my vestibular glands, and six treatments with laser surgery followed by two operations that involved cutting away the tissue in the painful area.”1

 

Step 0. Do Nothing

• If you hurt down there, avoid all potential irritants: Stop douching. Stop using “feminine hygiene” products. Stop wearing anything down there. Stop washing down there. If you must, choose loose cotton undies and wash them in hypoallergenic laundry detergent, without fabric softeners. Avoid tampons; use cotton menstrual pads. Avoid tight pants. Peel out of your bathing suit immediately. Give up bicycling and horseback riding until the pain is gone.

• Avoid chlorine. Don’t drink it, and stay out of chlorinated swimming pools and hot tubs. A filter that removes chlorine from your drinking water is a lot less expensive than bottled water and probably healthier for you and the planet.

 

Step 1. Collect Information

• For a long, long time in modern medicine, women who had pain down there were misdiagnosed, labeled as hysteric or frigid, and given ineffective medications. As the twenty-first century began, however, these women at last began to be recognized, and their discomfort given a name: vulvodynia or vulvar vestibulitis.

• Vulvodynia includes burning, stabbing, shooting, stinging pains in the vulva, vagina, urethra, and rectum. It may be present at all times, only on contact, or only during intercourse. For some the pain is so excruciating — “like a fire that won’t go out” — it prevents all normal activities including walking, driving, and sitting.

• At some time during their lives,16-20 percent of American women aged 18-64 have had vulvar pain lasting at least three months. 2, 3, 4 The University of Michigan Health System found 28 percent of women had experienced vulvar pain at some point in their lives.5 About six million women have chronic vulvar pain.6

• Women with vulvodynia are frequently quite sensitive to pain and may also be dealing with endometriosis, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel symdrome, and/or interstitial cystitis.

• Muscle spasms in the pelvis, and injury to, or irritation of, nerves serving the vulva seem to be major causes of vulvodynia.

• Thirty percent of young women with vulvar vestibulitis syndrome have a genetic defect that prevents them from blocking interleukin-1, an inflammatory substance (cytokine).6A In older, post-menopausal women, vulvar pain is usually linked to hormonal disturbances.

Step 2. Engage the Energy

* Homeopathic remedies for vulvar pain and inflammation:
* Aconitum relieves superficial inflammation.
* Apis relieves the most severe itching, burning, pain.
* Cimicfuga (Acatea) racemosa helps when pain radiates from the vulva to the back, loins, limbs; menstruation painful.
* Eryngium campestre helps when the bladder is involved. * Gossypium helps when there is also incontinence.
* Hamamelis helps when there is prolapse, fullness.
* Ignatia helps women who are chilled, feet and hands cold.
* Piper cubeba relieves irritation and burning pain.
* Pulsatilla helps when pain brings nervousness, depression.
* Rhus tox. relieves burning pain, raw sensations, itching and irritation especially after urinating; accompanied by pruritis, erythematous and erysipelatous lesions.

• Biofeedback is AMA-approved, and often paid for by insurance, as a way to relieve vulvodynia. With biofeedback, and a little practice, you can learn to use your mind to control your pain.

• According to Christiane Northrup, MD, “a woman sets the stage in her body for chronic vulvar problems when she lacks the courage to change the negative aspects of an unhealthy relation-ship.”6B

the Art of Monica Sjöö

Step 3. Nourish andTonify

*A healthy diet and daily consumption of nourishing herbal infusions — red clover, oatstraw, chickweed, and linden, one at a time, in rotation — will supply you with all the nutrients you need to heal, including lavish amounts of B vitamins, magnesium, calcium (to counter acids), and vitamin E.

* Red clover infusion nourishes with minerals and phytoestrogens to strengthen the vulva, ease swelling and inflammation.

* Oatstraw infusion nourishes the nerves, making them less sensitive, and soothes the nerves and emotions.

* Chickweed infusion nourishes vulvar tissues, cools hot tissues from the inside out, and wipes out infections.

* Linden infusion soothes and heals the vulva and vagina and all the blood vessels serving them.

* Yogurt and quercitin (from oak bark) were suggested by many women as easy ways to relieve vulvodynia.

• Since vulvodynia may be triggered by chemicals, it seems wisest to eat organic foods and avoid all food-related chemicals especially phosphoric acid (carbonated drinks), artificial sweeteners, food dyes, preservatives, vegetable/soy protein isolates (energy bars and Bragg’s aminos) and nitrates (preserved meats).7

• Food acids, especially oxalic acid may trigger, and in some women cause, vulvar pain. If you also have interstitial cystitis or other urinary tract problems, you may benefit from limiting plant acids. Eliminating these acids makes it difficult to be well nourished, however, as all the mainstays of a healthy diet — beans, whole grains, greens, fruits and many vegetables — are high in plant acids. Vegetarians are more likely to be affected.8

• Sitting on a donut pillow offers some relief to many women.

• Electromyography with physical therapy.

• Keep a spray bottle of water by the toilet and spray your vulva after urinating. Then pat dry with a very soft cloth. No rubbing, no wiping.

 

Step 4. Stimulate/Sedate

*Homeopaths and herbalists agree, St. John’s/Joan’s wort is the best remedy for anyone with nerve pain. The infused oil topically and the tincture internally (a dropperful 2-12 times a day, depending on the severity of the pain) not only quickly relieves pain — often in a few days — but also restores healthy nerve functioning, counters depression, and helps counter any hidden viral infections, such as herpes. Homeopathic Hypericum changes the energy pattern, breaking the cycle of chronic pain.

*Oatstraw baths soothe the vulva and normalize nerves. Cook a handful of oatmeal in a gallon/4 liters of water for thirty minutes, then strain into a hot, hip-level bath and soak your pain away. Or buy Aveeno, powdered oatmeal, at your drugstore, dissolve some in warm water and sitz in it.

• Your doctor may suggest electrical stimulation of the pelvic floor to help free up spastic muscles. Be sure you have tried other remedies first.

Common Foods High in Acids11

Berries: Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.
Citrus fruits/juices: oranges, lemons, tangerines, grapefruits, etc.
Fruits of all kinds contain acids; they are less irritating when cooked.
Greens, raw or cooked: Highest — spinach, beet greens, chard, lamb’s quarters, sheep sorrel (Essiac). Lowest — collards, dandelion, escarole, kale, mustard greens, nettle, parsley, watercress.

Beans Beer, wine, grapes
Beets Black pepper
Celery Chocolate and cocoa
Eggplant Green peppers
Leeks Okra
Pecans Peanuts/peanut butter
Rutabaga Rhubarb
Sweet potatoes Tomatoes
Turnips Tea: black, green, white, iced
Tofu Wheat germ

Note: Calcium citrate neutralizes food acids.

 

Step 5a. Use Supplements

• Supplements of 200-250 mg calcium citrate, three tablets taken 3-4 times a day, turned the tide for some women. But it may take 4-5 months of use, and a low-acid diet, before pain is relieved. And, to prevent recurrence, you will need to continue taking calcium citrate. For best results, and fewest side effects, take one calcium citrate on an empty stomach immediately upon waking for three days.9 Then add a tablet before dinner for three days, and continue gradually building toward the full dose. A dropperful of yellow dock root tincture can be used to counter the tendency of calcium citrate to constipate.

 

Step 5b. Use Drugs

• High acid drugs — such as aspirin and ascorbic acid — may trigger vulvar pain.

• Regular or repeated use of birth control pills, immune-suppressing drugs, and/or antibiotics may trigger vulvodynia.10

*Topical drugs deliver more relief, with fewer side effects, than oral medicines. Women with vulvar pain say estrogen creams and topical anesthetics (lidocaine) are most helpful.

• Unlike many other diseases, vulvodynia has no specific drug designed to treat it. You may wish to experiment with these drugs that some women and some practitioners have found helpful:

* Tricyclic antidepressants, such as Elavil or Prozac, in very, very small doses, to reduce neurotransmitter sensitivity.
* Antihistamines, to relieve swelling.
* Muscles relaxants, such as Flexeril, to ease pain.
* Anticonvulsant, anti-epilectic drugs, such as Neurontin.
* Interferon treatments.

 

Step 6. Break and Enter

• In extremity, some women have sought surgical removal of the offending nerves.

 

Vulvar Resources

• The Vulvodynia Survival Guide, Dr. Howard Glazer, Harbringer Press, 2002.
• The University of Michigan Center for Vulvar Diseases
http://www2.med.umich.edu/healthcenters/clinic_detail.cfm?service_id=859&hc_id=TOGP
• The National Vulvodynia Association offers regional networks of women, two newsletters, conferences, a content-rich website (www.nva.org), and a CD-ROM for doctors covering diagnosis and treatment of chronic vulvar pain disorders.
www.vulvarpainfoundation.org
www.vulvarhealth.org

 

Vulvar References
1A. Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Tori Hudson ND, Keats, 1999.
1. “A painful women’s problem isn’t in the mind,” Jane E. Brody, New York Times, October 27, 1993.
2. “News from the society for women’s health research,” Women’s Health Advisor, Oct. 2004.
3. “From obscurity to Oprah,” Leah Thayer, Nat’l Women’s Health Network News, May/June 2003.
4. “Genital problems and natural solutions,” Bonnie C. Minsky, Conscious Choice Magazine, Jan. 2004
5. “Genital pain more common than previously thought,” Women’s Health Advisor, March 2004
6.“No sex in the city,” Constantine Von Hoffman, Health, Nov. 2001
6A. “Conquering vulvar pain,” The Center for Women’s Healthcare, April 2002
6B. Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Christiane Northrup MD, Bantam, 1994
7. “Genital problems. . ., ” Minsky, Jan. 2004
8. Treatment of Vulvodynia with Calcium Cirtrate, C. Solomons, 1994
9. Ibid.
10. “Antibiotic use increases symptomatic vulvovaginal candidiasis,” American J Obstet Gynecol, 180:14-7, Jan. 1999
11. “A painful. . . ,” Jane E. Brody, NY Times, Oct. 1993
“Chronic Vulvar Pain,” The Network News, Nov./Dec. 1993

Prescriber and Clinical Repertory of Medicinal Herbs, Lt. Col. F. Harper- Shove, Health Science Press, 1938, 1972

Copyright 2008 © Susun Weed

Susun Weed
PO Box 64
Woodstock, NY 12498
Fax: 1-845-246-8081


Visit Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.wisewomanbookshop.com

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

Vibrant, passionate, and involved, Susun Weed has garnered an international reputation for her groundbreaking lectures, teachings, and writings on health and nutrition. She challenges conventional medical approaches with humor, insight, and her vast encyclopedic knowledge of herbal medicine. Unabashedly pro-woman, her animated and enthusiastic lectures are engaging and often profoundly provocative.

Susun is one of America's best-known authorities on herbal medicine and natural approaches to women's health. Her four best-selling books are recommended by expert herbalists and well-known physicians and are used and cherished by millions of women around the world. Learn more at www.susunweed.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


HEALING WISE: AUDIO CD
HEALING WISE ~ Set Three

5 CD's
Susun Weed reads aloud - just for you - her alternative medicine classic Healing Wise. Her wise observations and warm voice add special savor to a rich and satisfying feast of ideas about health and healing.

 

What's in HEALING WISE ~ Set Three
CD 1
Nettle Recipes
Oatstraw Speaks
Oatstraw Uses
Oatstraw Recipes

CD 4
Herbal Pharmacy, part 2
Buying Herbs
Making Herbal Infusions, Decoctions, & Syrups
CD 2
Seaweed, Come Dance with Me
Seaweed Walk
Seaweed Properties and Uses
Violet Speaks
CD 5
Making Herbal Tinctures and Vinegars
Making Herbal Oils
CD 3
Violet Facts and Weedwalk
Violet Leaf: Properties and Uses
Violet Flowers and Fruit
Herbal Pharmacy, part 1
 

Buy this wonderful CD Collection in our Bookshop

 


 

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
Order
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
Order
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
Order
at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com


Susun Weed's Video's Include:

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 DVD video)
Retails for $29.95


Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com

 


Partner Earth: A Spiritual Ecology
by Pam Montgomery
Partner Earth provides a wide range of practical exercises, based on traditional wisdom, visualizations, and the author's experience as an herbalist, that enable one to create sacred space, find plant and animal allies, and embrace the spirit in all life that can help heal the rift between individuals and their environment.

Price: $12.95

Order this book from our Bookshop

 

"Well-written and thought-provoking...eminently practical, and deeply inspiring." Rosemary Gladstar Author of Herbal Healing for Women

 

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