Tribe & Health Health Tribe Bryan March 13, 2012 by Shiva Rose Wise Words from Judith and Bryan Abel for Healing Hormones February 25, 2012 Whitney Houston's death has inspired me. we may not always know if our life matters to anyone. I do not get the impression Ms. Houston possessed a sufficient amount of self love. But, in the days since this gifted and spirit filled woman has passed, her presence on earth has made a powerful impact on me. Whitney was 48 years old when she left her body. I am 50. She was, I am almost certain, in the beginning stages of menopause,if not already going through it. female drug addicts,lifelong soy users,coffee drinkers. women enduring prolonged illness, grief, loss. These and other stressors can bring on early menopause. No doubt drugs played an important part in her personal madness, but physiologically, madness was just part of her female being. I am a professional actress. recently at an appointment, waiting in a room where I may have been the youngest of 8 women (I was 48 at the time) 6 of the 8 women had had their uterus removed. I was not one of them. How this group of women landed on the topic is not difficult to imagine: a room full of women 50 and over,dressed to the nines. Preoccupied with their looks, their age and their sexuality. At the time, I was not at all worried. In our precious time together in that anteroom, the women spoke about their surgeries. The stories were unsolicited and free flowing; their sex organs had, in the main, been removed because of 'difficult menopause.' I was moved by this experience in that room with all those women. I didn't know what to think. A few years later, I was diagnosed with a 1/4" uterine fibroid and told that I was also in peri menopause. I was given several options for treatment. 1. Leave the alone and seek alternative care. 2. Have the fibroids surgically removed or 3. Have my uterus removed. and/or go on hormonal drugs. "You're heading into menopause in a few years", the male doctor told me as he sipped his venti coffee and fingered his iphone. "If they give you any pain,you can have everything removed." He said nothing else about peri menopause. I took this information home with me and wept. And wept some more. I felt like a character in a Grimm's fairytale, only in my fairytale, there were no good witches coming to rescue. I spoke with other women, older women, who were as in the dark about the female body as I was. They were blase and dismissive of anything happening 'down there', before or after the fact. Frustrated by efforts to deeply engage a wise woman, I decided I needed to consult my own wise woman. My own inner witch. I could not abide the idea that I was about to enter a stage of life that could so thoughtlessly be manipulated, cut short, drugged up and out of existence, if it 'caused me pain.'I wanted to understand. not only the fibroids, but this perimenopause. I learned, after a bit of research, that fibroids were a manifestation of an unhappy womb. A term applied to women who'd not given birth. I have no children, but I know plenty of women who have, and, carry with them fruit sized fibroid's. Whatever the medical reason for their existence, their appearance had more to do with something called an insult to the feminine. An insult to the feminine? As in: shame? Early sexualization? Birth control pills? Induced labor? Abortion? C-sections, Tampons? Soy? Long term use of stimulants or drugs? Prescribed or otherwise? Sleeping with men who do not love you? Or you them? sexual abuse? Negative images of women, their bodies used as billboards, objectified, politicized and cut upon? Nowhere for young girls to turn to, but pharmacist's or a medical doctor's for their information? Was the article referring to these social phenomenon as an insult to the feminine? Time to get to work. I read everything remotely witchy on the subject of menstruation,menopause and all else in between. What your doctor may not tell you about pre-menopause by Jon Lee. All of Susan Weeds books. "Her Blood is Gold" by Lara Owen. I learned to name my experience and sought out loving, knowing, support to help me build up my body for her journey through this magnificent, once in a lifetime event from girlhood to womanhood. I wanted to know as much as I could about this great big deal of a physiological, psychological change growing in me. I'd already stopped using deodorant 5 years ago. Tampons 5 years ago and coffee, black tea and soy, 5 years ago. But my health was in dire straights. What no one tells a woman is how much the body dries up. literally. the blood is drying up. muscle tissue, hands and feet, eyes, vagina all going the way of the sahara. What no one tells a woman is that her digestive juices under go an equally disturbing change and if she is still using plant medicinals (coffee, black tea) these only exacerbate the low enzymatic juices still available. These powerful stimulants are exceptionally drying to an already drying body. What no one tells a woman is the amount of water she loses through hot flashes and night sweats adds to the aridity of her body and her mind and that this dryness also contributes to insomnia! What no one tells a woman is that her uterus is the seat of her femininity and once removed, an essential part of her psychic field goes with it. No one tells a woman how the relationship between her pineal gland,ovaries and endocrin system effects her very sense of herself and how important it is to balance and nourish these organs before menopause. So, in my desire to share what information I have gleaned over the last couple of years of my transition, I offer this, my humble list of recommendations for any woman between the age of 40-50. ABOVE ALL become a skilled personal care practitioner! Be loving and kind towards yourself as you introduce more health supporting habits into your daily life. Is there a way to carve out an hour or even a half hour of doing absolutely nothing,while laying on the floor? Breathing. Being. Is it possible to not rush through your morning routine and simply slow down enough to feel your breathe as you oil your skin. Feed your skin. Sip warm lemon water and come to life in this new/old body. I sincerely believe the sooner one begins practicing good habits the less trouble there is to encounter in menopause. THE LIST - Learn to oil bath (banyanbotanicals.com has lots of good information on the subject of oil bathing) - Eat lots and lots of healthy fats (coconut oil, raw butter, etc. very soothing to the mind. very good for the overall health of your skin. helps keep you juicy!) - Rest rest rest( close your eyes from time to time and drop in. rest your senses. breathe. rest) - Drink plenty of medicinal teas (dandelion, red clover, red raspberry, chasteberry) - Eat less dry,starchy foods as they contribute to mental disturbances, dry skin and mood swings - Keep your feet warm - Eat lots of soup - Learn to make a good bone broth and drink it as much as possible - Learn to make your own seed milks (very inexpensive and very nutritious) - Take magnesium salt baths (terrific for those sleepless nights,also soothing to the nervous system) - Add good mineral rich salts into your diet (table salt makes the skin saggy!) - Apple cider vinegar is fantastic for acid reflux or any temporary digestive issues (a tblspoon to a cup of warm water, sipped like fine wine) - A half of lemon squeezed into a warm cup of water sipped slowly,every morning is a delight to the liver,which in turn is great for the blood and skin. - If you suffer from heavy bleeding, vitex is a fantastic herb for regulating your period. - Also, at the Santa Monica farmer's market is a man who sells wild stinging nettles. Dry them and drink the dark forest green tea. Rich in iron, minerals, magnesium and healthful for the blood flow. I believe in cultivating one's juice. Cultivating juiciness is to stop aligning oneself with a dry world. We women are nature herself. Too much wind, disturbs the mind. Too much heat, disturbs the skin. Too much water, weighs the body down. Too much earth, makes us stuck. Nourish yourself. Sincerely. Slowly. When menopause comes to you, and she will, I hope that you'll have found your own radiant path through this powerful, once in a lifetime female right of passage. Whitney Houston will not make this journey into the next half of her precious life,but she has certainly inspired me to do so. I am profoundly grateful for her. Bryan Abel Bryan Abel is a wonderful acupuncturist and herbalist in the heart of Pacific Palisades at Thumos Healing Center. He specializes in the complexities of women's hormonal issues.