Years, the Wise Woman Way
by Susun S.
Menopause is a period of transition
and metamorphosis, like puberty. It consists of three stages: isolation, melt
down, and emergence. Each stage calls forth new energies and new perceptions of
ourselves. Each stage has different demands, different tasks, and different needs.
Wise Woman ways, such as simple ceremony, compassionate self-care, and
daily use of dooryard plants, can be of tremendous benefit to women going through
menopause. Please allow me to share with you some of my favorite herbs for easing
hot flashes, sleeplessness, and other distresses of The Change. They're easy to
find; you may already know them as weeds! These plants, and their cautions and
contraindications, are described in detail in my book Menopausal Years, The Wise
Woman Way. Please refer to it before you decide whether or not to use any of these
green allies to aid you during your menopausal years.
during and after menopause must be high to maintain health. But calcium in pills
can't compare to calcium in plants when it comes to maintaining healthy, flexible
bones. Bones are made of a dozen minerals besides calcium (potassium, manganese,
magnesium, silica, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, phosphorus, sulphur, and chromium),
all of which are found in rich supply in the roots and leaves of edible weeds
and herbs. Eating weeds is my preferred way of preventing osteoporosis and insuring
freedom from heart disease, depression, headaches, leg cramps, and joint pain.
There are scores of calcium/mineral-rich plants to choose from, such as
the aromatic leaves of sage, peppermint, lemon balm, bergamot, rosemary, and thyme;
the cooked or fresh greens of lamb's quarters, amaranth, dandelion, chicory, comfrey,
stinging nettle, chickweed, parsley, watercress, kale, collards, and cabbage;
the flowers of red clover; and the roots of yellow dock, dandelion, chicory, and
For maximum extraction of mineral richness, I cook with these
herbs, drink them as infusions, and steep them in vinegar. (See Old Sour Puss
Mineral Mix in my book, page 192 , for recipe.)
have incredibly generous amounts of calcium and minerals, too. I make it a practice
to eat seaweeds such as kelp, dulse, and nori daily, as condiments, and a seaweed
such as wakame, hijiki, arame, and kombu once a weed, cooked with carrots or in
a soup. I feed seaweed to my goats in the form of powdered kelp and to my plants
in the form of a liquid emulsion. That's why we all have shiny hair, sleek skin,
bright eyes, and lots of energy.
are a hot topic for menopausal women. To help myself with hormonal surges and
drops, I prefer to use tinctures of plants rich in plant hormones (phytosterols)
rather than prescribed hormones (estrogen replacement or hormone replacement),
which actually elevate the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, contrary to
advertising, and are linked to increases in breast and uterine cancers. Women
whose blood is rich in plant hormones have the lowest rates of cancer in the world.
Plants rich in phytosterols include: roots of dong quai, ginseng, wild yam, black
cohosh, black haw, dandelion; flowers of hops, yarrow, red clover; leaves of stinging
nettle, sage; berries/seeds/hips of chaste tree/vitex, fenugreek, roses.
herbs for menopausal women:
infusion (Avena sativa) strengthens the nerves, helps reduce emotion distress,
promotes sound sleep, keeps the bones and heart strong, and strengthens libido.
The tincture is a stronger sedative but not nourishing to the bones and heart.
Oats for breakfast is an excellent way to "take" this herb, but avoid pills and
capsules. Oatstraw baths are exceptionally calming. Instructions for making one
are in my green book: Healing Wise.
infusion (Urtica dioica) strengthens the adrenals, eases anxiety, increases energy,
helps prevent night sweats, builds blood, protects bones and heart. Eating cooked
nettle is another excellent way to gather its benefits, as is nettle vinegar.
I avoid freeze-dried, encapsulated, or tinctured nettle, believing all these forms
ineffective and over-priced.
(Leonurus cardiaca) -- tincture of the fresh flowering tops -- is a favorite with
menopausal women, their daughters and their mothers. A few drops (up to 25 at
a time) will calm emotions, relieve heart palpitations (and strengthen the heart),
reduce the severity of hot flashes, increase vaginal lubrication, moderate and
eliminate PMS and menstrual cramping. Motherwort vinegar is a fantastic tonic,
and tasty, thank goodness. The tea is violently bitter and disliked by 99 out
of 100 women, including me, yuck.
(Taraxacum officinale)-- any part, in any form -- is a superb strengthener for
the liver, the control center for hot flashes. Dandelion improves digestion, especially
of calcium, helps relieve headaches, and sees to it that the liver provides steady
blood sugar supplies. Dandelion wine (from the blossoms) is the most elegant way
to take this remedy, but the cooked leaves and vinegars (as well as the pickled
parts) of the roots and/or leaves are also excellent nourishing digestives. The
tincture, especially of the root, is considered the strongest medicine, but doesn't
contain bone-building nutrients, so is less ideal than the other forms.
facts about menopause:
- The Grandmother Hypothesis maintains
that "menopause, like a big brain and an upright posture, is one of the essential
traits of the human which allowed us to colonize the world."
is not a recent phenomenon, but an ancient women's mystery, with special gifts
for the woman who uses its energies wisely.
- Estrogen is not one hormone,
but many, and our bodies continue to make estrogens all of our lives. The adrenals,
the fat tissues, and perhaps the uterus make estrogens.
- The levels of
hormones in a woman's blood are never higher than when she is in menopause.
hormone (phytosterols, or phytoestrogens) are usable by the body and, in contrast
to prescribed hormones, protect against breast cancer.
Susun Weed at:
P O Box 64
Woodstock, NY 12498
www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
For permission to reprint this article, contact Susan Weed.
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 $9.95
Get 20% off at: www.ashtreepublishing.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 $12.95 Get 20% off at: www.ashtreepublishing.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.
Foreword by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. 304 pages, index, illustrations. Retails
for $12.95 order at: www.ashtreepublishing.com
For more great info on menopause, 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 $14.95 Get 20% off at: www.ashtreepublishing.com
updated October 18, 2007
Menopause Book List
Feminist Women's Health Center