To hell with hormones!
I blame our “modern” culture for hiding and not highlighting hormonal education, and all things hormone related for why we have such a bad relationship with menopause.
We have no coming-of-age rituals.
Menarche, pregnancy and menopause are deleted from our education. My parents certainly didn’t take any responsibility for informing me about the birds and the bees. And I got no real forewarning about the red spot that one day would appear in my underpants, except in whispered sleepovers with my girlfriends.
I remember as a 10 year-old being in the lingerie department with my mom. She hugged me and said, I think it’s time for you to have a bra. I was shocked! Okay, I’m a bit oblivious at times.
And maybe that’s why I was, once again, unprepared for that next big hormonal shift — after pregnancy, that is — MENOPAUSE.
No one told me about all of the implications of those wacky hormonal changes in my body. And despite being a homeopathic practitioner working with hundreds of women, I was once again disturbed by the havoc hormones wreak on our unsuspecting bodies.
It’s both fascinating and terrorizing when you consider the symptoms you may or may not be host to.
- Your hair falls out
- Everything dries up … EVERYTHING.
- Hot flashes, night sweats, water pouring out of you (hence the dryness).
- Early waking or Insomnia
- Joint pains … my shoulders actually froze
- Reduced sex drive
- Painful sex
- Fuzzy thinking
So what’s a woman to do?
I don’t want to say get ready or be prepared, because I don’t want to set you up for anticipatory anxiety. (That’s some homeopathic humor!)
But if you do want to be prepared. Personally, I found a lot of good info on Menopause.org.
I do want you to know that there are options, and there are things that can be done besides just waiting it out and seeing how everything lands.
We mostly want results NOW, preferring suppression over riding the hormonal wave.
But my suggestions are more about supporting your body, rather than suppressing the body doing its best effort to transition you into your next stage of being.
Here are five ways to care for your body during menopause:
- Take care of yourself.
This is not some trite statement. It’s real, and it’s about time. If you haven’t learned how to do this before now, you must now. Really.
Say no. Take baths. Move in a way that feels good to you. Ask for hugs. Receive help. Take that trip. Only you know what that is.
Please do it now!
- Remember, menopause is a gift.
It’s in the name. A time to pause. A time to reflect on this transformational transition and decide how you will now use all of the wisdom you’ve gained.
There are other gifts.
Be open to what they are for you.
- Eat Well.
Protein, Essential fatty acids, Green food and water.
This is simplified but there is lots of information about how good food supports us.
There are excuses (sometimes that bowl of ice cream is self care) but not good reasons not to know.
There are many herbs that support hormone production because of their molecular structure, and therefore can help alleviate symptoms.
Here are some to try: black cohosh, passionflower, chasteberry, wild yam and ashwagandha. Read the instructions or get some help from someone who knows how to take these herbs.
Moving increases endorphins, which elevates our mood, which helps us feel better.
Feel better! Move in whatever way you can. Increase that heart rate, and allow your blood to pump through your body.
And to tease you with Homeopathy I offer 3 possible remedies, out of the thousands of great options for helping you cope with menopause.
- Pulsatilla: Emotional, weepy and hot. A woman needing this remedy is sensitive with wandering pains and a desire to be outside because she feels better there. She may stick her feet out of the covers at night, and be thirstless. Often has a history of difficult periods.
- Sepia Stagnation is the key word for this remedy. A woman needing this remedy is often chilly and loves to spend time in the sun warming up. Exertion also serves her, so a good hard workout helps. She’s irritable and doesn’t want to be touched often because she has already given so much she needs a break.
- Sulphur. Hot, hot, hot! And worse in the heat. The heat rises and can be felt in the face. Being in bed under covers is heat producing too, so here’s another one that sticks their feet out of the covers. Sweets are their downfall and by 11am they are hungry, hungry, hungry . . . even if they’ve eaten breakfast!
Menopause is not for the faint of heart.
Hell, being a woman is not for wimps. But there is help. We just need to remember to look for it and then receive it when it arrives!
Michele Brookhaus RSHom(NA), C
Let’s start with the elephant in the room.
How can a homeopathy treatment effectively work when there is NOTHING left of the substance in the remedy?
Homeopaths are rather odd ducks this way, we LOVE that it’s about the energy and not the substance. We’ve seen it work despite that nothingness. And we’ve seen it work without side effects. Even the wrong remedy given judiciously can’t hurt because it simply doesn’t resonate.
What hooked me some 30 years ago (am I really that old?) was going to a homeopath for a sinus infection. My sinuses were a mess, and I had loads of antibiotics over the years to try to clear them. I went to a homeopath only because I had been walking by her office weekly for probably a year and I got curious. So when I got another sinus infection I thought, “what the heck, I’ll give it a try.”
She gave me two homeopathic remedies and said to me. “If this first one doesn’t work in 24 hours, take the second one.” I don’t remember now which remedy worked. I do know that in 24 hours my infection was gone. Magic, right?!
Not everyone would do what I did next, which was to start reading everything I could. I even got myself a Materia Medica (a book that talks about many of the remedies and the symptoms pictures the remedies have) Like I said, I was hooked. I didn’t start school though until after my son was born. (and that’s another story)
But let’s get back to NOTHING.
Arnica may be a homeopathic treatment that you have heard of, or have used for yourself for bruising, pain, swelling. It works well for trauma, and even many conventional or mainstream doctors are aware of it’s uses. Heck, some surgeons use it in post operative recovery.
The remedy is made from the Arnica Montana flower. It’s crushed up in a motar and pestle with milk sugar and then alcohol is added to preserve it. Then it goes through a series of dilutions (with water) and succussions (pounding of the remedy traditionally by hand and on a book) until the desired potency is obtained. A 12 C potency means that the remedy has been diluted 12 times at a 1:100 ratio. It is at this potency that there are no longer any detectable molecules of the original substance. (see what I mean?)
A remedy is chosen based on the principle of “Like Cures Like”. What this means is that if a remedy can cause something, it can make it better.. Ahhh . . . but how can nothing treat anything? This is the koan of homeopathy. And for some that’s the end of that, because homeopathy has traditionally been more of an empirically based treatment. We see what works and try it again. And over 200 years we’ve learned a lot about remedies. (And though homeopathy is quite underfunded, there are studies around the world that do prove it’s efficacy)
Mostly though a homeopath will choose a remedy for YOU, not for your symptoms, not for your diagnoses. (and a homeopath will never diagnose you) What a homeopath will do is follow the threads of your life. We do look at symptoms, and we look at how you respond to what’s going on in your body and in your life. We look at what is making you stuck. It’s like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle making you, YOU. And then we look for a remedy that looks like THAT! Sometimes it’s a plant, sometimes it’s a mineral . . . sometimes it’s a bug. (Apis, which is a bee, helps with redness, heat and swelling)
If it’s easier to think of as a bit of a mystery, that’s alright by me. Homeopathy has been a bit of a miraculous miracle in my life, in my family’s life and in many of my client’s lives.You don’t have to believe it works for it to work. Talk to the many babies and animals helped by it! Or give it a try yourself and see how a well chosen remedy can open you up to be more yourself again.
Book a session for yourself!
There’s nothing worse than having a headache. Pain, in general, is always hard to bear, but a pain in the head is the worst! It’s hard to think when it’s your head that’s throbbing. Sometimes it’s hard to open your eyes let alone focus on anything.
Headaches can often be a part of a bigger problem especially if they run on the chronic or cyclical side. And if that’s the case I’d say go to your health practitioner, whoever that may be. Let them help you unravel the cause of your headaches and you’ll more likely get to a solution that more pleasing. In the meantime here are some remedies.
The first 6 remedies are ones you can easily do. Perhaps you’ve tried them, possibly you haven’t.
- Drink more water. Sometimes flushing out toxins by drinking more water is just what the doctor ordered. It’s amazing the symptoms we can get in our body when we aren’t hydrated.
- Move your body. I know when you have a headache the last thing you probably want to do is move. But for some people this may be the key to the solution. Like water flushes things through, movement does too. Perhaps it’s a easy walk in nature, or a gentle yoga class. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous, the idea is just to keep things in motion.
- Hot or Cold Compresses. Try one, then try the other. We are ALL different. And each of us requires different things. Try one on your forehead. Try one on your occiput. Relief may be just around the corner.
- Peppermint Oil. Put it on your temples. This can be of great relief for many people. Just remember to take your remedy before you put on the oil. (Remedies are coming next.)
- Go to your happy place. Sit down and listen to some soothing music as you visualize yourself in a calm relaxing place. It could be in the woods feeling the cool breeze and smelling the delicious odor of the trees, or it could be by a beach inhaling salt water smells and listening to the seagulls. Wherever it is enjoy it, and soon your headache may be swept away with the tide.
- Change your diet. It’s amazing how many food sensitivities that are out there that you may not even be aware of. Start paying attention, or go to a practitioner and be tested. What you may be eating could be the culprit for your head pain.
In addition to these first 6 ideas, let’s look at some homeopathic remedies to try. Homeopathic remedies can be amazing fixes for head pain.You just need to have enough of the symptoms indicated of the remedy for it to work. Here are 6 possibilities and some main indicators for their use.(And remember remedies are really just energy, so they can’t hurt if you choose wrong. But don’t keep taking a remedy that’s not working, and allow yourself to take 3 doses before you decide).
- Belladonna: Head pain is throbbing and intense. Sensitivity to light, noise, jarring are what we might call keynotes of the remedy. Often you don’t want to lie down, but would actually rather sit straight up. Flushed faces, dilated pupils also can indicate this remedy. Belladonna headaches can often be worse in the afternoon.
- Nux Vomica: This headache is often following a bout of overindulgence, whether food or alcohol, or burning the candle at both ends. It’s an extreme headache and can often be felt over one or the other eye or in the occiput. Stooping, coughing or motion in general (even movement of the eyes) can make things worse. And mornings are definitely not welcome!
- Gelsemium: Eye strain is a big cause for the need of this remedy. Occipital, dull, dragging head pain, that can extend up and over into the eyes are some of the sensations that could be felt. Sometimes it’s like a band around the head.These can be caused by nervousness, and sometimes includes dizziness. Sleep helps these kinds of headaches.
- Cocculus: Motion sickness headaches or headaches caused by long nights of caring for sick loved ones or children can often be relieved by this remedy. Do you also have nausea? Then this remedy may be the one for you. Occipital, extending to nape of neck or left sided, and with a tendency to stretch the neck back in an effort to obtain relief. These headaches are better indoors and with rest. They are worse with mental effort.
- Cimicifuga: Got a hormonal headache? Feel like you might go crazy? Try this remedy. It also can have occipital head pain that shoots down the spine. Relief can be felt stretching the head forward. Maybe you are a student, maybe exhausted with fatigue. Does it feel like the top of your head might fly off? These are some of the indicators for this remedy.
- Natrum Muriaticum:This headache feels like little hammers inside your skull, worse moving, even your eyeballs. It can come on in the morning, particularly around 10am. Before the headache there might be some partial blurring of vision. It can be used well for headaches in school aged girls during their menstrual cycle. And it’s often felt around the ears up into the sides of head, or down into the neck. Urination often alleviates the pain.
So there you have it, 12 potential remedies to help with your next headache! Keep in mind that you might need help choosing a more appropriate remedy for you . . . and it’s okay to ask. I am around, or you can talk to another alternative health practitioner in your area.
Girl, your vagina is trying to tell you something.
We don’t often think about the emotional reasons why we might manifest a physical problem. But more and more there is evidence to suggest that many physical issues have an emotional component to them.
1. Your life is dry.
What have you done lately that excites you, that juices YOU up?
What lights you up and makes you so happy that it brings vitality to everything else in your life? Anything?
Maybe it’s time to re-ignite the flames of passion not necessarily for someone, but for something.
2. You’re holding on to grief or grudges.
What hurt you that you just can’t seem to let go of? What deep grief have you not allowed yourself to express?
Holding that heaviness and hurt within your body for long periods of time is detrimental to your healthy, and your vagina is part of your body.
Find a way to process the stuck emotions and energy inside you. Let it go and move on.
3. You want something you don’t have.
I’m talking about old loves here . . . or possibly new loves you can’t have. Someone who’s married or otherwise unavailable to you.
But while you crave that person, trust me — you don’t really want them.
4. You’re kind of a bitch.
There, I said it. Maybe you didn’t start off this way, but somewhere along the line you got super defensive.
You’re super sensitive, you can’t bear anyone getting near you (physically or emotionally) without lashing out. You want this, and then that. No one can figure out exactly what you want.
You think you’re protecting yourself, but your just closing yourself off from life.
5. You can’t self-soothe.
And I don’t mean by drinking, smoking, compulsively watching TV, exercising or shopping. I mean you can’t stroke yourself, love yourself and generally just treat yourself with kindness! Your body dried upbecause you give it no real love or attention.
Try spending even just 5 minutes every day paying attention to yourself. Are you stressed? Take a few minutes and breathe. Do a few stretches.
Place your hand on your own stomach or your own heart and just notice the body you’re in. It might feel awkward at first, but in time, you’ll begin to love this time and want more of it.
Ladies, I’m not being harsh.
I’m not here to blame you. But sometimes the very things we do to self-protect end up hurting us most … emotionally and physically. If your body is withering, it means your spirit is too in some way.
It’s time to take an honest look at your life and your mindset and hear the truth your body is trying to communicate to you.
Michele Brookhaus RSHom(NA), CCH is the playful creator of Yoni’s Bliss, a homeopathic lubricating gel. She believes ALL women are entitled, worthy and capable of healthy happy vaginas.
Who knew getting lost in the woods could teach me about love?!
A few years ago I got lost in the woods. I headed up north to camp by myself before my son came in from his 30 day canoe trip. Before I went to the banquet later that day I thought I’d hike around one of the lakes close by. I should not have gotten lost, I was on a well marked trail. But I did, and this is what I learned about love from the experience.
1. Pay attention to what’s going on in your body.
Stress and pain can distract you from responding appropriately, or making a good decision. I was on a 5 mile hike with some ups and downs around a beautiful lake, and I was enjoying the air, the birds and the sights. It was my first hike of the season, and I always forget I have bum knees until about mile 3. By mile 4 I was getting ready to be done, and wasn’t noticing much else but my knees. This distracted me from taking the correct path. The correct path went downhill, and in one split second that I didn’t even realize until later, and I missed my opportunity because my knees did not want to go downhill.
This is a tricky one, because it was only in hindsight that I realized what had happened. Now I’m more attentive, not only the uneasy feeling that comes up in my belly, but also to times when I’m feeling tired and shouldn’t be having this discussion with my lover or making an important decision about a relationship.
2. Walking back and forth and back and forth on a trail doesn’t get you anywhere.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been lost, but it’s a wacky experience, and I found myself walking back and forth along the same length of the trail thinking somehow, in some way, I missed the turn off that I was seeking.
3. Sometimes you have to be willing to go back to the beginning, no matter what the cost.
After shouting for help until my voice was hoarse, collapsing in despair, and crying my eyes out, I decided that I should just go back to the beginning. My hips and knees protested heartily (I’m old, what can I say?).
I had to make peace with the fact that I may indeed be sleeping in the woods with bears, and had only a handful of gorp left and a few sips of water. But it was necessary, and really the only option I had. The same is sometimes true in relationships. Are you willing to start over?
4. You are more resilient, resourceful and capable than you think you are.
Yes, I made it out of the woods. And I didn’t need to go all of the way back, because not long past the stretch that I had hammered back and forth on, I noticed a fork. That tiny fork I had missed earlier because my painful knees were shouting at me. I got on my bum, and made my way down that hill, and within a few hundred feet I could hear the cars driving down the road by the parking lot. Relationships can be resilient too. And when both parties dig deep, it can be a life changing and life giving experience.
I got to the banquet that evening just on time. I had a swim in the lake, changed my clothes and hobbled on in and gave my son a great big bear hug. Because sometimes a hug requires that kind lov.
Parents know best when it comes to THEIR child.
Like most parents, when I had to learn to parent my son on the fly. It’s what we do.
I didn’t really know what I thought about vaccinations when, at 2 months, my son had his first set of them. After all, I was vaccinated and didn’t seem to come out any worse for wear. I had also been on a bit of a “health kick” in my later 20s and early 30s, so I knew it was something I “should” look at a little more carefully.
But I Didn’t — And I Was Sorry
Within days of getting his first set of vaccinations, my son developed cradle cap that moved into a skin eruption that got worse and worse. It spread down his face, back, arms and legs until only his belly was clear — and it itched like crazy. We had to keep socks on his hands and watched in amazement as he learned how to scratch his own back by twisting in his car seat.
My Son’s Reaction Wasn’t “Mild”
And, of course, it didn’t help him sleep. We were beside ourselves. Skin irritation is “mild” reaction, but when your baby isn’t sleeping because his whole body is inflamed, it’s not mild in my book.
Eczema is not a typical reaction to vaccinations, but it’s a possibility. Seizures, brain damage, autism, joint pain, anaphylactic shock are also other possibilities.
Babies’ immune systems are fragile, and there are so many more vaccinations given today than when I was a kid. Parents are the vanguard of their kids’ health. Please know this and take it on.
I was lucky enough to have a family doctor that supported my decision — and my right — to not go forward with any further vaccinations. (Even though she didn’t agree with me.)
Not Everyone Agrees With Me, With My Choice
I know that there are plenty of people out there who actively fight against this viewpoint.
I think it’s a shame that California’s legislature, which recently passed a law removing the “personal belief” exemption from the state’s vaccine requirements for children, has taken that right away from parents. We, as parents, know our children. We have a sense of what might be right or wrong for our child. How can the state strip us of our right to protect our kids?
I Believe In Natural Medicine
I’ve been a homeopath for 18 years now. I’ve seen my own susceptibilities to chronic sinus infections disappear. My son’s skin has been clear since he was two-years-old. But I also know that a shot of foreign toxic material could us back. It’s not that our immune systems are fragile, but I care what goes into our bodies. And I’m mindful.
They say vaccinations create healthy kids. Maybe that was true at one time. I think some vaccinations are potentially valuable, but I think, these days, there are just WAY too many.
My son had a tetanus shot before camp because — I get it — he might step on a rusty nail. But it was my choice, as his parent, to allow him to receive that shot.
Parents have both a right and a responsibility to keep their kids healthy and safe, so I believe that, whether or not you want to vaccinate your kids, it’s YOUR choice.
Here’s what to do instead…
Two years ago, I hit the wall. I was bone-crushingly tired, and it had nothing to do with sleep.
It came from pushing myself too hard through one too many difficult relationships, and not listening to myself about what would make me happy.
So I did what most sane, rational people do: I stopped everything, sold my house and went on a road trip … for 8 months.
Okay … maybe NOT what most would call sane.
But it WAS effective. I realized there are physical, emotional and spiritual reasons for this kind of collapse.
The New York Health Guide would have you consider these 5 PHYSICAL reasons for your stress and fatigue.
1.) Your hormones may be out of whack. Ask your doctor to check your thyroid or adrenals.
2.) You may have iron related or non-iron related anemia.
3.)Chronic pain. Scan yourself to see if there is pain you’ve just gotten used to experiencing.
4.)Daily or frequent drug or alcohol use.
5.)Medications. Check with your doctor to see if any you are taking could possibly be causing the problem.
For me it was those amazing hormones that, while when working well orchestrate most feminine functions, were having a difficult time adjusting post-menopause. Our bodies are brilliant when they are in sync, and brilliantly out of sync at times too.
Then there are sometimes emotional, and perhaps even spiritual, reasons for this kind of exhaustion too.
Do you often find yourself pushing too hard to make something happen because you want it so badly, but find it’s not happening fast enough?
Or trying too hard to make a relationship work?
Or grieving over something or someone you just can’t seem to get over, no matter what you do?!
Sometimes, that soul weariness comes from simply being bored with our lives. We can’t seem to find anything that juices us up.
So what to do?
I say MOVE! And I mean it in the most broad sense.
Judith Wurtman of The Huffington Post says when you are too exhausted to move, move for more energy. Get up and go for a walk. Go the gym. Do some sit ups or pushups. There is something about moving the body that does keep the energy moving for a good period of time after.
And you can move in other ways too
Consider these possibilities
- Change your mind. Just decide you are going to think differently about something from a different perspective. Then find one that makes you feel even slightly better.
- Change the subject. Sometimes the best we can do is think about something else entirely. Consciously choose to think about something that does make you feel good.
- Focus on doing things that nurture you. Take a hot bath, with essential oils, epsom salts, candlelight and music that inspires you. Or rub oil into your skin and notice how wonderful it feels.
- Break away from that relationship that’s bringing you down, even for a bit. Find people who uplift you.
You don’t have to do what I did and wander the countryside being inspired by the beauty around me for 8 months (though I’d strongly recommend that), but maybe it would feel good to take a break for a few days or a few weeks.
Most say it’s not possible. But it is.
Look forward to riding the crimson wave!
You need your period. Sorry, but yes, you do!
It’s become trendy these days is prevent that monthly effusion of blood when possible. Science has come a long way, and now we can take a pill, get a shot, or have an implant embedded in our arm to stop our menstrual flow for 3 months, 6 months … or even a year!
And I get it.
As women, we each bleed for about 6 years total over the course of our lives.
It’s much more convenient not to bleed. It’s far less messy not to have a menstrual period. And, for some, stopping the bleeding definitely takes away some serious pain.
But as we move away from thinking we need or want that once a month bloody outpouring, I’d like you to think of me as that gentle voice in the wilderness offering you some sage advice.
Let it flow baby!
Here are 4 reasons that monthly mess that is your period is absolutely essential to your well-being.
1. It might be hazardous to NOT bleed.
There haven’t been any studies (yet) seeking to determine what the long-term effects taking the pill has on a woman’s bones or breasts, and because of that, we cannot be certain that no negative effects exist.
This is especially concerning in relation to teenage girls who are encouraged to go on birth control for convenience and to avoid menstruation.
I don’t know about you, but I’m highly attached to the notion of keeping all of those parts staying in healthy, working order for as long as possible.
2. Periods mean a stronger sex drive.
It’s true that throughout the month a woman’s hormones fluctuate quite drastically, but that’s what makes us who we are. When we bleed, we have access to a bit more testosterone and progesterone, which helps both our cognitive function as well as our sex drive.
(And yes, it’s okay to have period sex. It may just help those cramps — and, it’s okay to have messy sex.)
3. Our bodies need a good flushing.
All of that bleeding is an opportunity for the body to flush out both bacteria and iron. Bleeding also helps reduce chances of infection and lowering iron levels in the blood helps to reduce cardiovascular disease.
Our menstrual cycles are actually one of the reasons women tend to live longer than men!
4. Our periods are OURS.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Women are our hormones.
Those hormones create a rhythm to our lives and set the stage for our emotions, our health, and our well-being — which includes our menstrual cycle.
In Chinese medicine, menstrual bleeding is understood to be the release of stagnant liver qi, which releases anger and frustration. This is a reason you may notice an upsurge of energy several days after your period starts.
All of this is good!
Take away our periods and life becomes just a little bit more sterile.
And I, for one, like it just a little bit messy … and wild!