Picture from Wikipedia
This is a North American native plant. It is known as a tonic for bronchial health, and has long been used to support the female reproductive system through the perimenopausal and menopausal years. Because of it's widespread use it is generally deemed quite safe. There is also clinical research indicating relief of physical and emotional/mental symptoms associated with perimenopause after just 12 weeks of use.
Image from Wikipedia
Chaste Tree or Chaste Berry
This is widely prescribed in Europe for relief from PMS, breast tenderness and menstrual irregularity. This herb has also been studied in clinical trials and is considered safe. Women experiencing symptoms of estrogen dominance may have the most to gain from this taking this herb. Estrogen dominance will be another post... but essentially, progesterone begins to decrease before estrogen, leaving some women with a proportional excess of estrogen.
One note with chaste berry, if you are still cycling, and find that depression symptoms worsen just before your menses begin, discontinue this herb immediately.
Dong Quai (no photo)Photo from Wikipedia
This is a Chinese herb that has long been used to address female reproductive issues. It contains high levels of phytoestrogens, which may help women who are experiencing a drop in estrogen with the onset of menopause. It is generally most effective when used with other herbs in a formula, and is not recommended at all if you have ever had an estrogen-sensitive cancer.
This is an Ayurvedic herb, and is the one that's given me some relief from my symptoms. It is generally used to rejuvenate the adrenal, immune, and nervous system and is particularly good if you're struggling with fuzzy thinking, stress, or sleep problems. It may also help if vaginal dryness has become a problem for you, as it's known for invigorating both male and female sexual potency. Over 200 medical studies have been done on the benefits of taking this herb. Healing benefits may include:
Wow, if this isn't amazing timing! It's perfect for following on the heels of the last post about how your body can influence your mind. I'm going to turn over the idea that they have a relationship and just exactly what that means to me... but I felt like I needed to share this talk with you right now.
I just watched the following TEDx talk by Lissa Rankin, MD, "Is There Scientific Proof We Can Heal Ourselves?". She discusses how the medical establishment has been proving that your mind can heal your body for over 50 years. It's called "the placebo effect". I had never thought of it that way. Sometimes my scientific background actually comes back to bite me in the ass... that I understood how the drug efficacy thing worked, but never questioned the benchmark itself. While I knew that any new drug had to beat the placebo effect in order to be considered useful, I didn't think of what that meant. Funny, the premise of my current work was with me all along and I didn't see it!
I know from personal experience that the mind can heal the body. Years ago I had terrible food allergies to dairy products. It got worse each week, and at some point I couldn't eat at restaurants anymore because if they cooked my food in butter I'd have horrible belly pain and bloating for days. That was actually how I found Bioenergy Balancing. A friend recommended a healer, and despite my scientific training telling me that it couldn't work, I was so uncomfortable and desperate that I figured it was worth a few hundred dollars to see if I could change my life. It was, and I did. And after watching Lissa Rankin talk about what about medical care seems to work, I can see that it was the nurturing that my healer brought to the table, and her belief that I was worthy of being healthy, that gave me permission to think so too.
“When we think of nonverbals, we think of how we judge others. … We tend to forget, though, the other audience that's influenced by our nonverbals: ourselves.”
This was a new idea for me recently: Maybe it's not just that our state of mind can influence our bodies... maybe this is a two way street. It's interesting to consider that we might also be taking cues from our physical body. It reinforces my perception that we have an internal relationship with ourselves that is very much like relationships we have with other people, only we fail to recognize it because we can never remove ourselves from it. It FEELS like it's us talking to ourselves, but really, it's what we've learned talking to us. It's what other people have told us, synthesized into a single voice in our heads. Anyway... it seems it's appropriate to add our very own body as another "voice" in this relationship.
I'm also going to admit that I've started standing in power poses in the morning. So far, I haven't been caught by my husband or my children, so they have no idea that I've been re-patterning my brain. They, maybe haven't noticed anything at all. But I sure have. My ability to continually deal with situations as they come up unexpectedly, the routine interruptions of trying to work at home over the summer, and to find ways to be productive (historically I've battled old family dynamics of being unproductive)... it's all been so different the last few days since I saw this TED talk!
I can't remember which of my incredibly awesome friends or colleagues posted this on Facebook, but I do have much gratitude for the things they post. This practice of standing powerfully is quickly becoming part of a 5-minute morning ritual where I stand tall, feel the power within (meaning that I summon words like capable, confident, strong, resilient...). I breathe deeply, receiving that sense of my essential self, and I release what no longer serves me. I give myself some appreciation for things that I know that I do well. And in less than five minutes I feel supercharged, positive, energetic, and totally ready to do what needs to be done for the day!
I'm still playing with my "daily" rituals (because I've admitted before that it's a challenge for me, right?). I'm actually taking an e-course about it. I'll share more about that as I work it out.
Click here to go to Amy Cuddy's TED talk about body language and it's influence on our perception of ourselves.
I've done a lot of posts about heart healing... about finding our truths and living from them. That's great... and that kind of work takes time. I've spent all summer in a bit of an airy space, being contemplative about greater truths and all... but I feel the indian summer in the air. There's a thread of coolness in the warm air... something that portends of change... of turning within. In the Chinese Five Element System this time of late summer and early autumn (indian summer) corresponds to the Earth Element. So, for this season (from now, until early October) I thought I'd throw out some address-it-now options for dealing with some common physical (particularly perimenopausal) complaints on Fridays. If you have special requests let me know, I'll post what I know.
I've recently had some bloodwork done and found out, that like many, I'm extremely deficient in Vitamin D. While I do take my vitamins (sporadically...) I admit that I have my doubts as to their efficacy. I mean, how much of any particular substance can your body absorb at once? I imagine that's at least part of why we have taste buds and enjoy variety in our food... to get a variety of vitamins and minerals little bits at a time!
While sunlight is something of an obvious answer... I actually spend more time outside than the average person given that I have a flexible work schedule and I have children that keep me on the move. I'm also fair skinned, so I'm not the perfect candidate for a bunch of sunlight. So... with that out... I'm wondering how to get a good dose of D. Do you know what foods contain Vitamin D? Here's a short list:
It's becoming obvious to me that I'm not going to eat my way through enough Vitamin D. So... what other options do I have? Well... I've been looking into herbal support and here's what I've found:
I think my approach is along these lines: I'm going to make sure I get some sun, and I'm going to start making an herbal infusion of the above herbs each day, and see if I can't get my Vitamin D up. I like starting with herbs... if they don't do the trick then I'll move on to a supplement... but from what I understand most supplements are not able to be fully absorbed. I'll let you know how it goes.
Herbal infusion: combine equal parts of the herbs, enough to make a full cup. Place in a quart jar, cover with boiling water. Let steep at least four hours, ideally overnight, and drink over the course of the next day. It's a good way to remember your fluids, especially since they're doubling as your vitamins!
Last, I'll just throw out there that I likely need to do some work asking my body wisdom about why I'm not making enough Vitamin D in the sunlight. I imagine there's a block in the manufacture process there somewhere. But, until I get to the research to figure out how Vitamin D is synthesized in the body and find some quiet time to work on myself or get a session with one of my colleagues, I will try the infusions. If you try them, let me know about your results!
Things to keep in mind:
1. I'm not a medical doctor... so... well, keep that in mind.
2. Vitamin D is fat soluble, which means that you can get too much. Never consume more than 4,000 IU per day (recommended is 600 IU per day, I believe). Too much Vitamin D can be toxic. Please consult a physician if you have any questions or concerns about your vitamin intake.
3. If you are on cholesterol lowering medications, steroids, or some anti-seizure meds these can block Vitamin D absorption.
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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