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Healthy Menopausal Years — The Wise Woman Way

Menopause is a time of enormous change. Wise women of all times have found that simple life-style changes can make their Change much easier. For optimum health during and after menopause, follow these simple steps:

  • Exercise a different way every day: take walks, lift weights, dance, garden, do yoga, try tai chi.
  • Drink nourishing herbal infusions.
  • We all know how important exercise is for strong bones, healthy hearts, resistance to diabetes, and weight maintenance. But did you know it prevents depression, too? By yourself, or with a friend, exercise is one of the golden keys to a long, healthy life.

    Nourishing herbal infusions are the second key to vibrant elder years and an easier menopause. They provide protein, minerals, phytoestrogens, and special fats needed by menopausal women. Many common menopausal problems can be connected to a lack of one or more of these nutrients.

    Low protein leaves hair and skin dull, lifeless, and thin. Nourishing herbal infusions, plain yogurt, lentils, and organic meats are excellent sources.

    Low levels of minerals leave the bones and heart deprived of calcium, the immune system low in zinc, and the muscles prone to pain and spasms. Nourishing herbal infusions, plain yogurt, seaweed, and organic chocolate are magnificent sources.

    Insufficient phytoestrogens in the diet increase breast cancer risk and menopausal distress. Nourishing herbal infusions, lentils, roots and seeds are the best sources.

    Lack of high-quality fats can lead to thyroid problems, immune system stress, lack of energy, and blood vessel disease. Nourishing herbal infusions, full-fat yogurt, organic chocolate, olive oil, organic butter, nuts and seeds are superb sources.

    To make a nourishing herbal infusion:

  • Buy (or gather and dry) at least one ounce of nettle leaf or oatstraw or red clover blossoms or comfrey leaf.
  • Place the ounce of dried herb in a quart jar. (One ounce equals one full cup of dried herb.)
  • Fill jar to the top with boiling water. Cap tightly and allow it to brew for at least four hours. Overnight is fine.
  • Strain and drink 2-4 cups a day. Most menopausal women prefer their infusion iced, but you can drink it hot or at room temperature. A little mint or sage may be added to change the flavor.
  • Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) builds energy, strengthens the adrenals, and is said to restore youthful flexibility to blood vessels. A cup of nettle infusion contains 500 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of bone-building magnesium, potassium, silicon, boron, and zinc. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, D, E, and K. For flexible bones, a healthy heart, thick hair, beautiful skin, and lots of energy, make friends with sister stinging nettle. It may make you feel so good you'll jump up and exercise.

    Oatstraw (Avena sativa) reduces high cholesterol, increases libido, and strengthens the nerves. A cup of oatstraw infusion contains more than 300 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of many other minerals. Its steroidal saponins nourish the pancreas and liver, improving digestion and stabilizing moods. Oatstraw is best known, however, for its ability to enhance libido and mellow the mood. Do be careful whom you share it with, or you may find yourself sowing some wild oats. In Auryuvedic medicine, oatstraw is considered the finest of all longevity tonics.

    Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is better in every way than its cousin soy. It contains four phytoestrogens; soy has only one (isoflavone). Red clover infusion has ten times more phytoestrogens than soy "milk," fewer calories, more calcium, and no added sugars. Red clover is the world's leading anti-cancer herb; soy isoflavone encourages the growth of breast cancer cells in the lab. Red clover improves the memory; Japanese men who ate tofu twice a week doubled their risk of Alzheimer's disease. Soy beverage can contain up to 1000 times more aluminum than milk, according to Sally Fallon, lipid researcher and fat specialist. She believes that "the highly processed soy foods of today are perpetuating ... nutrient deficiencies ..."

    Comfrey leaf (Symphytum) is free of the compounds (PAs) found in the root that can damage the liver. I have used comfrey leaf infusion regularly for decades with no liver problems; ditto for the group of people at the Henry Doubleday Research Foundation who have eaten cooked comfrey leaves as a vegetable for four generations. Comfrey is also known as "knitbone," and no better ally for the woman with thin bones can be found. And, don't forget, comfrey contains special proteins used in the formation of short-term memory cells. Its soothing mucilage adds flexibility to joints, eyes, vagina, and lungs.

    Menopause can change your life. Our Wise Woman grandmothers used nourishing herbal infusions, fermented dairy products, healthy exercise, and simple whole foods to weather their Change naturally and live productively another 50 years. You can too.

    Legal Disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner with a specific formula for you. All material contained herein is provided for general information purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Contact a reputable healthcare practitioner if you are in need of medical care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second opinion.

    Graphics Credits

    • iced drink, courtesy of Jane M Sawyer.
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