Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Wise Woman Way

This post really goes hand in hand with the last one on woman's cloth. A few years ago - probably around 4 - I started to occasionally have my periods at shorter intervals. I was introduced to Susun Weed's book, "The Wise Woman Way, Healing Wise". I borrowed the book from a friend, skimmed through it and read the pertinent parts. I started to make nettle infusions and to drink them on a regular basis. My menstruation irregularities disappeared. Now an infusion, as some of you may know and some of you may not, is not tea. Using 1/2 cup of dried nettle per litre or quart, you pour boiling water over the dried nettle and immediately put a lid on the jar or glass container you are using and let it sit for 4 hours. Then you strain and drink.

Then, last summer, the irregularities returned. I was still drinking my nettle infusion so it couldn't help any more than it already was. I ordered my own copies of the Healing Wise book and also her book "The New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way". This time I read both books cover to cover. And I loved them. She really speaks to me. I had had these kinds of thoughts and feelings and reading her work was very validating. She knows an amazing amount about plants. She believes that good health ought to be able to be achieved by eating the plants that grow around us. She believes that supplements and vitamins have their place but they are more like drugs and for special circumstances. I highly recommend the books. I have given copies to many people.

But more importantly, I have used what she recommends and it really works. After reading the menopause one, I started making an oatstraw infusion in addition to the nettle one. This helped tremendously with the emotional aspects. I was feeling alot of anxiety and my pms was rather extreme. Oatstraw had an immediate effect (it also tastes good). But my periods were still only 2 weeks apart. Considering that I bleed for a week, it meant that I was often having 2 periods a month.... So next I tried Yarrow. Yarrow is far to bitter to make as an infusion (although I tried that first before I carefully read the yarrow section). I made it a tea with lemon balm and lavender and that helped with the flavour - it made it bearable. But yarrow also has side effects. It makes you sweat more profusely and can even make hot flashes more likely. It definitely had those effects on me. I did have a couple of mild hot flashes as a result. So next I tried sarsparilla root. For root infusions, you steep for at least 8 hours. Sarsparilla root is delicious - it is the flavour of root beer, after all. Very easy to drink. But you are not supposed to drink too much of it. I had 1 - 1.5 cups a day for a week.

Susun Weed eschews the new term of 'perimenopause'. She points out how according to this new way of looking at things, menopause is only one day. The one day that your period ceases. So in this spirit, I have entered menopause. I am at the beginning stages.

Using these infusions, gradually my emotions have evened out and the pms is now minimal and even more gradually my menstruation has returned to its usual 3 week cycle (3 weeks off and 1 week on). All without the interference of dangerous drugs.

In season I pick and dry my own nettle. This year I also dried red clover blossoms and red raspberry leaves. The rest I buy from Anna's Vitamins Plus (250-260-1147). I can buy them there in bulk in 1 lb bags. 1 lb of oatstraw or nettle fills up a gallon jar and lasts me more than a month. She is happy to ship, as well.

So right now I am drinking a lot of infusions. Every day I drink nettle and most days I drink oatstraw as well. Once a month I drink sarsparilla for a week and I throw in raspberry leaf and red clover, too and an occasional pot of yarrow tea. So every day I am drinking 3 cups of infusions. The hormonal shifts of menopause are as demanding on the endocrine system as adolescence and your glands need a lot of nourishment. These infusions are high in so many nutrients that I take no other supplements.

So if you have a very heavy period, try nettle. It is high in iron and calcium (and vitamin D and lots of other things). You will be surprised how it helps with your bleeding and makes it easier to use a diva cup and cotton pads.


Sarah-Lynn said...

I agree, that it's way more beneficial to get the nutrients you need from the things around you and not from supplements. Those things are very helpful to know for dealing with future menopause, and also how to take better care of myself now. Now, to somehow find some dried nettle around here...

Jordan said...

Hi Andrea- I just blogged my first blog, you should check it out. I want to stay in better touch with you and the sisters, so I am hoping this helps. Love you. Jord

sheila said...

I love Susun Weed too, although I find the dandelion chapter incredibly annoying to read, lol. She inspired me to buy some nettle seed from Richter's and start a nettle bed in my back garden. It's not quite as plentiful around here...there are patches, but none I could dig up and transplant, so, I seeded my own.

Andrea said...

Yes, the dandelion chapter is a bit annoying. But when I read the first part of the book it at least made more sense. And luckily I do have some French. But my Croatian friend who speaks several languages but not French cannot make head nor tail out of that chapter.