So, I was one of those lucky ones. I never had a difficult period, never experienced severe cramping, irregular cycles, mood swings or even that occasional weight gain. I got pregnant when I wanted to and my periods returned normally after nursing just as before. My mother and grandmother were, are, two very practical women. My grandmother told my mother “it’s not a big deal to start your period, and it’s not a big deal to end your period!” In turn, my mother said the same thing to me and my two sisters. For the most part, this has been absolutely true! Kind of!
Enter my 40’s! I can’t say I went gracefully into this decade. What happened to my 30’s? Wait a gosh darn minute! (Other words were said, but are not appropriate for this blog!) Life turned on a dime for my husband and I, there was a downturn not only in my husband’s industry, but in the entire country financially. Suddenly my stress levels were off the chart, and for the first time in my life I experienced real fear and got a taste of what depression is all about. I am a firm believer that thoughts are things, so my grandmother’s philosophy on women’s issues, I can truly get behind. I have often wondered if how much of what women suffer during menopause, actually comes from the over talking about menopause, and the amount of information found on the internet. You can find any illness you like on the internet, and if you read long enough about it you can convince yourself that you actually have that illness.
HOWEVER, I write this blog today, just a few weeks shy of my 51st birthday. It’s taken me nearly 11 years to get used to being 40, and now here I am 50, ( I’m pretty sure it’s going to take me until I’m 70 to get used to that number!)and well, I can’t say that menopause is the “no big deal” my mother and grandmother spoke of. It is, and can be a pretty big deal; and it’s not just the physical things that happen to us but what is going on with us mentally and emotionally that can be truly debilitating.
Menopause is normal, it’s natural, it’s something that is supposed to happen, but it’s not the same for every woman! It’s not a one size fits all. Some suffer tremendously from the physical changes taking place; hot flashes, bloating, weight gain and brain fog, fatigue and insomnia, while others are pretty sure they have become bi-polar! This is what I love about homeopathy. No matter what the situation, homeopathy is asking Why, not just What. What is going on individually? What is going on in the totality of the person, physically, mentally and emotionally? I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my stress levels and my personal situation are the contributing factors making it far more difficult to transition through this “Change”. So, “thinking myself well” during this time hasn’t been all that easy. I’m pretty sure I’m going to shoot the next person that posts some positive platitude on Face Book! Yep, that’s right, Bi-polar!
There are many things that are very different for this generation going through menopause. We are a lot younger at 50 than our grandmothers and mothers were at this same age. We think differently, work differently, exercise differently. Some of us didn’t start having a family until we were in our 40’s. We have a lot more choices and freedoms compared to what they had. We feel much younger at 50 than our grandparents did. Unfortunately, I feel there is a trade off though between our grandmothers’ time and this time. They weren’t being bombarded with every possible drug known to man kind; “oh, you don’t want to have your period for a year??? No problem, take this drug!” “Don’t want to feel any signs of menopause? Well, here take this.” “Don’t want to be inconvenienced in any way, well, you don’t have to be!” Our grandparents food supply was healthier, there were less toxins used in the home, and they didn’t have cell phones tethered to their hips; it was a different time. We think we are so much more enlightened right? We have so much more at our disposal! We have conveniences they didn’t. And yet, we have cancer! A lot more cancer than they ever knew, and I’m not buying the “they didn’t know” line! We keep hearing that people are living longer, but are they really? People in their 80’s are living longer, but people in their 30’s are not. What we are not understanding about our choices and the array of medications we take is that they are altering the natural way our body is meant to function. Hence all the side affects, the bodies way of responding to suppression. You make the body do something it’s not supposed to do, it’s going to act out! Remember that commercial; “Its not nice to fool Mother Nature”! Well, it’s not, and that in fact is what we are doing, and don’t get me started on GMO’s! A convenience is no convenience if it is harming our bodies, our minds and our earth! So what do we do when faced with a difficult transition during menopause?
Here are a few homeopathic tips I recommend.
1: Seek out the help of a Certified Classical Homeopath and let them take your case. There are several homeopathic remedies geared for menopause depending on what symptoms you are experiencing. This is where I would start. Hormone Replacement Therapy will always be there, why not try a more natural approach first. Homeopathy is designed to put the entire body into balance at the molecular level, so it can do what it is designed to do, and that is to heal itself. Here are a few basic homeopathic remedies to choose from.
Belladonna-One of the most important remedies for this problem, where there is restlessness, agitation, and a red, burning face, often with palpitations and great intolerance of pressure, touch or any sudden jarring or unexpected motion.
Crotalus-Only use this for the most severe cases and after Lachesis. The face is flushed almost blue with congestion, there is an associated headache, and a tendency to bleeding-either nosebleeds or a heavy uterine loss. Nearly all symptoms are worse after sleep, and the woman is restless, anxious and often weak.
Kreosotum-This is a useful intermediate remedy where there are problems of burning heat, which is always better from warmth. (Note the unusualness of this symptom, hot but better from heat) Unlike Pulsatilla the symptoms often spread to involve the whole body with heat and sweats.
Lachesis-For many women this is the most important remedy of all, and nearly always required at some time during the treatment. There is a sweating with flushing, and often violent headaches on the top of the scalp. All symptoms are worse in the morning, worse for sleep, and there is a typical peculiar combination of talkativeness and intolerance of any form of constricting pressure to the body, such as tight clothes around the abdomen and neck.
Pulsatilla-A useful deep acting remedy for somewhat milder and very variable symptoms of flushing, always worse for heat. Apart from the face, the rest of the body may be quite chilly. Tears and weepiness are almost always present.
Sulphur-This remedy is a good choice for more chronic cases where there is an intolerance of heat in any form, together with diarrhea, and often infection with discharge in some part of the body.
2: Exercise, exercise, EXERCISE!!! And did I say exercise??? Please, make exercise a priority. Yoga is my very favorite. It works, I promise! Getting our endorphins up and getting out hearts pumping reduces stress and cortisol levels, helps to balance the immune system and the endocrine system. The mental/emotional benefits are priceless. Don’t think about it, just do it!
3: Nutrition! A whole food approach to your health and wellness will help with pretty much anything and everything that ails you. If it comes in a can or a bag or a box, probably a good idea not to use those products. Try it for a week, and see where you land at the end of 7 days. Seek out your local Farmers Market and start buying locally grown foods. For a real change, try a vegan diet for awhile. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but by taking out certain foods for awhile, and adding them back in slowly you will be able to see what does and doesn’t make you feel well. Eliminating alcohol will also help tremendously, especially wine. The amount of sugar in wine can really disrupt your sleep, cause excess bloating and as we all know it is a depressant, so if you find you are having more than two glasses at a time, you may want to examine your motives.
4: Supplements. I am currently taking a Menopause Support supplement from Arbonne called Women’s Balance . Check it out HERE (in Nutrition Section). It is an all natural product including: Milk Thistle, Dong Quai, Red Clover, Goji Berry, Black Cohosh and a few others. This has greatly reduced the intensity of my hot flashes as well as frequency. Arbonne also carries a progesterone cream available by request. Please feel free to email me for more information.
5: Do something you love and are passionate about. Make the time weekly if not daily to spend time doing the things that bring you peace and joy. This I think is the most crucial and important point. Maybe it’s just having lunch with a girlfriend, or working in your garden, but make time as often as possible to put some laughter in your day. Schedule yourself out of your schedule and stick to it! We are always talking about finding balance in our lives, but if we don’t make a concerted effort to do so, it’s just a bunch of hot air. Give yourself permission.
Lastly, know that you are not crazy!! You may feel like you are and that there is no end in sight. My mother always told me “this too shall pass, it’s just a season.” I am grateful for the wisdom of those who came before me, and thankful for my mother who at 84 still refuses to take any medications. ( I do have her on a few homeopathic’s for arthritis, but who can fault her for that!) Be patient with yourself, know that it is ok to mourn what is no longer, and delight in the new life that is yet to come.