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Green Witch
by Jennifer Erwin
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Lammas 2003, Vol 2-4
MatriFocus, a Cross-Quarterly Web Magazine for Goddess Women Near & Far
mature woman, smilingNatural Menopause

Menopause is the period in a woman's life when menstruation permanently ceases. This typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, although it may occur as early as 35, and generally lasts from two to five years. The symptoms themselves may begin years before the cessation of menstruation. This is because the drop in hormones is gradual and actually begins in the mid 20s.

Many women chose to go on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). This involves taking either synthetic hormones or hormones produced from other animals. Several studies have shown that HRT results in an increased risk for endometrial and breast cancers, circulatory disorders, stroke, fibroid tumors, and fibrocystic breasts. HRT is not actually necessary. Unfortunately, in our society menopause is considered to be a medical condition that must be treated. In truth, it is a completely natural cycle in a woman's life. In most cultures, menopause is associated with very few symptoms, and sometimes none at all! Menopausal symptoms actually result from the typical American lifestyle and cultural views. If a woman views menopause not with dread but with a positive outlook and makes a few lifestyle changes it is possible to go through menopause relatively free from difficulty.

Diet
Adopting a low-fat, high-fiber diet low in animal products is perhaps the best way to control menopausal symptoms. The typical American diet (high-fat & meat) produces high estrogen levels and often results in severe menopausal problems. A healthy, primarily vegetarian diet keeps hormone levels steady therefore resulting in a significant decrease in symptoms. It is also wise to avoid alcohol and coffee. Both worsen hot flashes.

basket of carrots (c) FreeFoto.comThe most recommended foods are whole grains, fresh vegetables, beans, seaweed, miso, tofu, tempeh, seeds and nuts, especially sunflower seeds.

Foods rich in phytoestrgens help prevent hot flashes and other symptoms. The best choices are: tofu and other soy products, yams, carrots, apples, and potatoes.

Menopausal and post-menopausal woman are at an increased risk of osteoporosis. For this reason it is a good idea to eat more calcium-rich foods such as: sesame seeds, almonds, low-fat yogurt, and dark leafy greens such as kale, collards, and broccoli.

Estrogen-raising foods help balance the hormones. There are many choices making it easy to add these foods to your diet: alfalfa, anise, apples, barley, carrots, cherries, clover, fennel, garlic, green beans, hops, licorice, oats, parsley, peas, pomegranates, potatoes, red beans, rice, rye, sage, sesame seeds, soybeans, sprouts, wheat, and yeast.

Vitamin E stabilizes blood vessels reducing the sudden dilation that causes hot flashes. While it can be taken as a supplement, there are also several foods that naturally contain Vitamin E: Wheat germ & wheat germ oil, corn, safflower, sesame, soy, peanut oils, seeds, peanuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cucumber, peas, asparagus, brown rice and millet.

To reduce symptoms, it is best to avoid these foods: animal foods, fat from fried foods and dairy products, sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

Menopause Tonics

Hot Flash Tonics
(from the Santa Fe Health Education Project)

  • 2 Tbsp alfalfa seeds steeped for 10 minutes in boiling water. Take with lemon three times a day.
  • 1oz Wild Marjoram in one pint hot, but not boiling, water. Allow to cool, then strain and add one cup of port wine. Take 1 Tbsp three times a day before meals.
  • Two parts each Motherwort and Red Sage to one part each Tansy, Pennyroyal, and Skullcap. Take one teaspoonful (steeped for 10 minutes in boiling water, then cooled to lukewarm) three times a day before meals.

Night Sweats Tonic
Drink 1 tsp. Dried sage steeped for 10 minutes in one cup of boiling water.

Menopause Tea
2 parts Chaste Tree berry
2 parts Wild Yam
1 part Black Cohosh
1 part Goldenseal
1 part Life Root
1 part Oats
1 part St. John's Wort

Drink three times daily for several months until menopause symptoms are no longer present. In cases of associated anxiety or depression, Skullcap or Valerian may be added.

Warnings: Use Motherwort in place of St. John's Wort if heart palpitations or high blood pressure are present. Do not use if pregnant. If Skullcap or Valerian is added, they may cause drowsiness.

Vitamins
300-500 mg Magnesium
1200 mg Calcium (1/2 in morning, ½ at night)
400 IU Vitamin E ~ for best results, combine with 50 mg Selenium
15 mg Beta-Carotene
100-500 mg Vitamin C
15 mg Zinc
Multivitamin with 100% of the following: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, B12, Pantothenic Acid

Aromatherapy

Clary Sage Essential Oil may help ease hot flashes. It can be added to a home diffuser or, for portable relief, add a few drops to a handkerchief and inhale whenever a hot flash is coming on. Keep the handkerchief in a Ziploc baggie to keep the scent from fading.

Herbs
To reduce the severity of hot flashes swallow a teaspoon or two of aloe vera juice before meals and before bed. BE SURE the aloe is specified for internal use.

  • Black Cohosh reduces hot flashes and nervous tension. Pour a cup of water onto ½ - 1 teaspoon of the dried root and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Drink three times a day.
  • Chaste Berry helps balance the hormones. Take ½ tsp of tincture 3-4 times a day.
  • Dong quai, Alfalfa, and Black Cohosh all stimulate estrogen production. Take ½ tsp of tincture or two capsules three times a day.
  • Motherwort will relive heart palpitations. Take ½ tsp of tincture or two capsule three times a day. Combine with sage to relieve hot flashes.
  • Siberian Ginseng strengthens the adrenal glands. Take 1.2 tsp of tincture or two capsules twice a day.

Homeopathy

  • Lachesis: Take if usually talkative & dizzy, have headache when you wake, tight feeling around belly, hot flashes, unusually heavy menstrual flow
  • Sepia: Take if irritable, chilly, tearful, backache, periods of sweating, hot flashes, unusually heavy menstrual flow
  • Amyl nitrosum: Take for hot flashes that develop suddenly
  • Pulsatilla: Take if hot flashes, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, prefer open air, often weepy and chilled
  • Sulphuric acidum: Take if fatigued, hot flashes worse in evening or after exercise
  • Kali carbionicum: Take if hot flashes worse at 3 am, loss of appetite, backaches, heart palpitations, and nervousness

Holistic Therapies
Meditation, yoga, and slow, deep breathing have all been shown to significantly reduce menopausal symptoms. Try deep breathing twice a day for about 15 minutes each time. You can also practice deep breathing whenever a hot flash is coming on as a preventative.

It has also been found that menopausal symptoms often reduce immediately after aerobic exercise.

The main thing to remember is that this is an entirely natural process. It is not a medical condition that must be treated and hidden away. Our bodies know exactly what they are doing. Trust your body and yourself. Many women find that they are entering a time of new freedom and wisdom. Don't ignore this great change. Celebrate it!

Resources
+ Dannheisser, Ilana and Penny Edwards, 1998, Homeopathy: An Illustrated Guide, Element Books Limited: Boston MA.
+ Freeman, Sally, 1996, Everywoman's Guide to Natural Home Remedies, Doubleday Direct, Inc: Garden City, New York.
+ Gottlieb, Bill (ed.), 1995, New Choices in Natural Healing, Rondale Press, Inc: Emmaus, Pennsylvania.
+ Heinerman, John, 1996, Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs and Spices, Prentice Hall: Paramus, NJ.
+ Hoffman, David, 1998, Holistic Herbal, Element Books Limited: Boston MA.
+ Lininger, Schuyler et al, 1999, The Natural Pharmacy, Prima Publishing: Roseville, CA.
+ Monte, Tom, 1997, The Complete Guide to Natural Healing, Perigee Books: New York, NY.
+ www.susanweed.com

Disclaimer: The information contained herein is not intended to replace the services of trained health professionals. You are advised to consult with your health care professional with regard to matters relating to your health, and in particular regarding matters that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

Graphics Credits
+ Woman, courtesy of Microsoft Design Gallery Live.
+ basket of carrots, © Ian Britton, courtesy of FreeFoto.com

Contributors retain the copyright to their work; please do not take art or words without permission. All other graphics and reference materials are used and attributed as per the Fair Use Provision of The Copyright Act and individual terms of use.
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