If a menopausal woman has pain or makes trouble, pound her hard on the jaw ~~ Egyptian Proverb, 2000 bc
I laugh every time I read that quote. While in the throes of a menopausal attack of hot flashes and mood swings, I have more than once asked my husband to knock me unconscious. A sore jaw seems a small price to pay for a bit of relief! To date, he has strongly refused.
The truth is, I know how to control them. Its implementing the necessary tools that causes me a problem. I mean, really…between running a business, keeping up a blog, playing in the Etsy forums and being a wife and mom, where would I ever find 20 minutes to do a round of yoga and drink a cup of herbal tea? Well, okay, maybe it’s a bit more complicated than that. I should really meditate more often and cut back on the coffee.
Let me just clarify something up front. I’m an herbalist. That pretty much means that I believe in the power of many natural healing methods. So, while my attitude may seem flippant, I assure you that I am entirely serious. I also want to be clear that the following post is what has worked for me. That does not mean this particular regimine will work for you or your sister or your sister’s best friend.
Early menopause is predominant in the women in my family. For me, it started at 33. It was mild, at first. Hot flashes here and there, memory blips, occasional night sweats. No big deal. I smiled to myself, wondering what all the fuss was about. At 35, I finally understood. I woke up one day drenched in sweat. Suddenly, no matter what the temperature might be, it was too damned hot. I was becoming intolerably crabby all the time and I could barely remember to go to the grocery store, let alone what I was supposed to get once I was there.
I had to do something and my options were relatively limited. Hormone therapy or natural alternatives. Dude, I’m an herbalist, but I’m human, too. I wanted relief and fast! So, I decided to read up on hormones. See just how they worked, where they came from, what were the side effects. It took me about an hour to solidify my decision. I wouldn’t take hormones if they coated them in chocolate and wrapped them in dollar bills.
This information is simply the result of my research that led to my decision. I didn’t write the information and if you have some solid proof against any of the info presented, I would dearly love to be made aware of it. To date, despite 2.5 years of further research I have found nothing to dispute any of my original information.
First, I checked out the top choice for menopause help. Estrogen. I went to this website and read up on one of the most popular estrogen treatments. I learned that it can cause heart attacks, strokes, breast and uterine cancer and blood clots. It can also increase your chances of developing dementia, especially in women over 65. The good news was that, since I was well under 65, I probably wouldn’t have to worry about the dementia.
The next problem that I had with estrogen pills is their origin. I’ll admit that I laughed when I first read about it. I thought it was one of those crazy rumors. Surely it was wrong. But it wasn’t. Fresh Pregnant Mare Urine, anyone? Think I’m lying? Spreading tales? Check this out.
Patent info on obtaining estrogen from mare urine
PETA‘s info on the subject
Another great resource that goes deeper into the research that led to the use of animal urine is the book, “The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed On Women‘ by Barbara Seaman.
After thinking it through, I realized that it really wasn’t so far fetched. For many decades, medical testing was done on animals freely and openly. They were fed toxins and untested medicines, injected with diseases, untested ‘cures’ and things we never want to hear about. Every imaginable part of their bodies were used in the name of ‘finding a cure’. Why not the urine? The principle behind it is sound and there is no question that the mare urine contains potent estrogens. It is what it is and no one is really disputing this fact.
Not wanting to be accused of only looking at one side of the issue, I wanted to check out a few pro-estrogen places, too. I couldn’t really find any, except for the websites of the companies promoting the estrogen. Bio-Medicine says don’t take it. A Consumer’s Report says way back in 1976 that estrogen is dangerous, too, which really makes me wonder why it is STILL being offered, but I won’t go there right now. I found lots more sites, medical and alternative, warning against estrogen, but didn’t really come up with any pro’s on the topic.
So, that left natural therapy. Ah, well, I suppose I knew the answer before I ever started my research. I chalked the experience up to a re-solidification of my choice to be a naturalist. I put back on my herbalist-mantle and got to work.
My new line of research included going as far back in history as I could. How did the Ancients treat menopause? Did they even have menopause back then? Yes, they did. And they used some crazy, but effective, means of treating it. Ever heard of Ovariin? It was offered by Merck (yes, the some pharmaceutical company that we have in this century) in 1897 and was derived from the dried, pulverized ovaries of a cow. It worked, but it was really gross, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t have a dead cow handy, so Ovariin was kinda out of the question.
I turned to my herb cabinet and found a few answers.
Black Cohosh: Great for help with hot flashes, mood disturbances, palpitations, and vaginal dryness. It is believed to work by binding estrogen receptors and has been used for centuries. Black cohosh is being investigated for a possible link to liver damage, but so far, all of the cases involoved have other medical conditions that are believed to contribute to the situation. Read this article for more info.
St John’s Wort Works wonders on the mood swings. The down side of taking St Johns Wort is that it will interfere with the effectiveness of other medications you may be taking. It speeds up the breakdown of the medicines so they become less effective.
Ginkgo This herb is fantastic for those memory lapses. This herb has been studied in-depth and has proven effective for help with improving brain function. Ginkgo has been shown to thin the blood, so don’t take ginkgo if you are currently taking other blood-thinners, natural or synthetic.
Sage contains plant estrogens and works well for helping with night sweats and hot flashes.
These are the herbs traditionally used to treat menopause. However, there is something within me that forces me to look outside the traditional means. I have added these herbs to my personal list of ‘menopause’ herbs.
Peppermint I use peppermint a lot. It is a system stimulant and has an effect of nearly every major organ of the body. It prods the system into working correctly, promotes circulation, soothes and invigorates. It eases belly aches, diminishes cramps, soothes a headache, calms heartburn and helps cleanse the system.
Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion roots and leaves have been used to treat liver problems, kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, stomach upset, digestive disorders, appendicitis, breast problems (such as inflammation or lack of milk flow), fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, diarrhea, as an appetite stimulant, digestive aid, and for liver and gallbladder function and to stimulate the excretion of urine. I think that about covers the entire system. No negative effects have been reported.
So, I had my herbal concoction ready. I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t work immediately. It took almost a week to really notice a difference. That’s the only negative I can come up with. Even the prescriptions don’t completely knock out the symptoms of menopause, so I don’t complain too much about the occasional hot flash.
But, I did want to get rid of it completely, so I set out on another research mission and found that several yoga poses are recommended for help controlling menopause. This site has some fabulous suggestions that I have incorporated into my yoga routine. I try to do 25 minutes of yoga at least 3 times a week. I said I try. I don’t always succeed, and I definitely feel it when I don’t take the time to do it!
I’ve also changed my diet, but I have been doing that for the last 10 years. I find I have much more energy and I’m more alert and coherent when I get plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. Canned and frozen do NOT provide the same level of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
And, finally, I try to meditate whenever I get the chance. Simply quieting the mind and breathing properly provide amazing benefits, both physical and spiritual. This site has some great info on meditation and other alternative health issues.
I’ll leave you with this quote that I ran across. It is by George Napheys in his 1869 book, ‘The Physical Life of Woman: Advice to the Maiden, Wife, and Mother’. He says, “After a certain number of years, woman lays aside those functions with which she has been endowed for the perpetuation of the species, and resumes once more that exclusively individual life which has been hers when a child…The evening of her days approaches, and if she has observed the precepts of wisdom, she may look forward to a long and placid period of rest, blessed with health, honored and loved with a purer flame than any which she inspired in the bloom of youth and beauty.”
I like that thought.