Midlife misery doesn’t always call for the heavy hand of hormone therapy
Girls, it’s time I said it loud and clear, because there is still alot of confusion around this message:
Herbs really DO lessen or completely eliminate many peri-menopausal symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, sleeplessness, hair loss, loss of libido, crazy periods, the whole deal.
It works gently. Quickly. Alot of times, permanently.
And safely. Up next to artificial or ‘natural’ hormone and surgical interventions, herbal medicine is so free of side effects and risks that it really doesn’t fall into the same category of healing.
Week after week, I visit with women who share stories of soaking the bedsheets from wicked night sweats, suffering weeks or months of exhausting insomnia, tracking periods that run the gamut from every 2 or 3 months to every 2 or 3 weeks, with flooding and sometimes debilitating pain, migraines and too many other miseries to name here.
They call me days or weeks after starting their custom herb formulas to say thank you for the relief.
My patients find me through a girlfriend or sister who didn’t have luck with conventional medicine and tried something ‘sort of out there’, as one woman referred to my work. I’m not offended.
Women come to herbal and natural medicine for lots of reasons – dissatisfaction with traditional medicine, bad experiences with drug side effects, a reputation for safety, and a desire to explore options to surgery.
For me, it was fear. During chemo for breast cancer, I was afraid to lose my hair, so I went to visit a naturopathic physician my friend was seeing.
I still lost my hair, but the pills and capsules cleared up my lifelong digestion problems and most of my fibromyalgia pain – conditions I’d resigned myself to dealing with forever.
Even if fear or drug side effects point them to herbal solutions, it’s the results that keep my patients coming back and getting more involved in their own healthcare decisions. When they get results, they stop worrying about what their doctor, their mother, or their husband might think.
Google the phrase ‘hot flashes’ and the results are a confusing assortment of 15 million quasi-scientific and product-centered websites. That’s alot of information to sort through, and having a professionally trained herbalist guide you through the quagmire can come in handy.
Taking a problem like night sweats to a professional herbalist might be the LAST thing you consider. It’s not the sort of healthcare option you see splashed across billboards on Dodge Street. Without drug company profit margins, those billboards and expensive advertising campaigns are pretty much out of the question for herbalists.
We rely on word-of-mouth, and let me tell you, women talk. Good results are the main reason my patients are telling their sisters, moms, daughters and co-workers to go see ‘that herb lady’ when they’re a hot mess of hormones.
Take your time and think it over. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here when you’re ready to explore your options. You’ll get the truth if I think herbal medicine is a less effective choice for your very personal situation.
So, come sit in a comfortable chair and let’s talk this thing through. No judgement, no obligation. Just one woman to another. That’s the most natural thing I can offer.
A funny thing happened when I hit the ‘Send’ button this morning. I accidentally told my mom, and about 12 other women friends, that I was glad she didn’t embarrass me in front of them at a mother-daughter event last night.
And you know what she said in her email reply? “I’m glad I didn’t embarrass you. The thought had crossed my mind.” My mom is a total good sport, but I almost never give her credit for it. I wonder if it occurred to her that I might embarrass HER?
I have a not-so-loving relationship with my mother. It’s not her fault. People always tell me how charming and funny and lovely she is. How much they enjoy having her around. But all I see through my judging eyes is someone who struggled with bipolar disease and didn’t pay enough attention to me.
I never stop to remember that she gave birth to 5 children in 7 years, moving with her military husband to at least 5 different bases, with no ‘I’m too tired to cook’ processed food dinners on the days when everyone was sick or crying or snowed in.
It rarely occurs to me that she was an inspiration for my holistic-style career, insisting on whole wheat bread and a ‘no sugary snacks’ household when Wonder Bread and Super Sugar Crisp were standard fare in 70’s suburban homes.
I always forget that she was the one who told my sister and I (I guess she assumed it was a given for my brothers) that we could do anything we want with our lives, and proved it by doing exactly that. As soon as we kids were all in school, she put her Chemistry and Physics degrees to work in a series of jobs that landed her in a professional engineering career.
That’s the kind of life that would make a grown kid proud of their parent. Even if I stopped right there, it would be plenty of reason to knock me upside the head for missing opportunities to tell her.
There’s more. Last year, we saw Mom flirt with death at least 3 times while she struggled through major surgery and a 4-month recovery. None of us kids thought she would live to see 2013. But her incredibly resilient constitution allowed a full recovery and in some aspects, allowed her even better health than ever.
Instead of sending accidental emails about how embarrassing my mom is, I can only hope to be a good sport and take the high road with her a little more often. That’s how I’ll honor Mom on Mother’s Day.
That little email has me wondering, now, if my own kids feel this way about me. I guess what goes around, comes around…
The answer to the Mother’s Day Herbal poll: Roses
Healthy cleansing can be the push you need to better health
Below is a guest blog that started as an enthusiastic email from a friend who was tired of being ‘stuck’ in her old patterns, and found a way to break through after a couple weeks of seasonal cleansing. With some light editing of exclamation points, I’ll let her tell the story…
I was recently guided to attend one of Mo’s classes – a Spring cleanse. What a good idea, I thought. Get a little healthier, feel a little better, you know…the usual. Little did I know that this 2 week cleanse would completely change my life – healing my unhealthy patterns at a very deep level – and giving me a renewed sense of self.
The class turned out to be a cooking class, meant to prepare us for this 2 week, nearly vegan life-style. Mo, by showing us the actual “to-do’s”, empowered us to go find the healthiest foods we could, and re-engage with our kitchens. And her enthusiasm and commitment to each of us was contagious.
It was tough, but because I’m married to an amazing man who also loves to cook (and who realized quickly that life was simply going to be easier by getting on board with this one). We made our collective way through it. I won’t give the details of everything this diet pushed us through in this blog (but perhaps over a healthy lunch??) but on the other side of 2 weeks….here’s what we are experiencing: my diarrhea (my companion for the last 20 or so years) is completely gone. We’re both sleeping through the night (rare!). My husband’s snoring….gone. He’s lost 13 pounds, I’ve lost 7, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Seriously, the energy that we are experiencing and the way our new bodies feel has changed us. We can never go back to drinking wine nearly every single night. Miracle of miracles, the desire is gone! Who knew? And who wants a huge chunk of beef in their stomachs now? Not us. Of course, we’re enjoying these things again, but in moderation as opposed to gluttony. We’re the “all in” types….enough said. The way our bodies feel now has actually become our dietary compass, and it’s joyful!
Last but certainly not least, because I’m getting a full night’s sleep, I’m getting up earlier, finding time for breakfast again, and have gotten back into a morning meditation practice – something I haven’t had in my life for years.
We are changed…
Carolyn and Kurt Johnson
Seasonal cleansing is a gentle and safe way to bring about subtle (or in Carolyn’s case, not-so-subtle) change when you’re feeling stuck or stagnant. It could turn out to be just the nudge you needed to break a bad habit and start some new ones. Take cleansing to a holistic new healthy level – schedule a personal visit with me 402.933.6444 or gather a group for a class at your school, church or workplace. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Fashion was never my thing…even in second grade.
If the seasons were people, this year’s Spring would be a late-bloomer. I’m getting a little fidgety waiting for some daffodils and tulips. Can you blame me? I’ve spent most of my life expecting Nebraska Spring to prove that winter doesn’t last for-EVER.
The thing is, I can totally relate to a season that takes its time showing up. I’ve always been a little late to the party myself. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been hopelessly behind in personal fashion, trendy fads and hairstyles (but that didn’t stop me from trying to style my own hair for second-grade picture day).
And for someone who’s always in a hurry and gets described as impatient about once a day, it surprises me as much as anybody that it took me so long to figure out my vocation. For Spring and me, it’s been fits and starts the whole way. One day we’re radiant and hopeful, the next, we’re plunged into gray and gloomy.
I didn’t figure out this herbalist thing until way after 40. By then, my younger sister was already retired, my brothers were well into their careers, and my friends were accomplished teachers, attorneys, dentists, and the types of professionals I was encouraged to be as a kid.
Then, like a fluky Spring snowstorm, the defining moment of my life came along out of nowhere. Instead of losing all hope of finding my calling, treatment and recovery from breast cancer planted the seed for my herbalist roots. Sitting in the chemo room watching the pink stuff draining into my veins, I hit the proverbial rock bottom. I finally gave myself permission to start healing all the wounds that got me there. Like those seeds in Yellowstone, the ones that need an intense fire to germinate, I needed a trial by fire.
It took me a few years to get it all straightened out, but some perennial force has kept me going and growing. I dug up buried emotional and physical pain, pulled it apart and used it as compost to grow into an herbalist. All those years of pain finally make sense. I like to think of my healing and recovery as the life experience I needed to appreciate the suffering my patients carry with them.
Yeah, I took my time, tried on a couple suits that didn’t fit. Raised three kids I’m seriously proud of. It hasn’t been a wasted life by any measure. And now, I get to put it all together with a lifelong curiosity and love of learning, into my work as an herbalist who’s just emerging after a long winter (and some seriously bad hair days).
Winter really doesn’t last forever. Maybe just another week…
Mo Horner explores her 100-day journey of meditation.
Since last Fall, when I committed to sit it out for 30 minutes a day, I’ve discovered something profound about meditation – it’s profoundly difficult to slow down my twenty-first century, tech-driven, high-speed brain.
For 100 straight days, I’ve been sitting, and squirming and itching to get up. At least 75 of those days, I needed some serious self-talk to stay in my seat. After all, in my everyday life, I’ve been trained to be ready at any moment for an incoming text, call, email, Facebook post, breaking news, or something requiring ‘immediate attention’. We all have. We’re in constant fight or flight mode, mobilized for everyday life like it’s a crisis we’re facing moment to moment.
Trying to meditate feels like slamming on the brakes in a NASCAR race. I’ve spent years trying to handle everything quickly, at a moment’s notice, raising kids in a soccer-mom culture and trying to keep my sanity without keeping up with the Jones’s.
And that’s exactly why I plan to keep sitting in meditation…on the floor, in a chair, on the couch…collecting my thoughts, and setting them aside for some emptiness and peace. I’ve become too accustomed to speed and instantaneous response times. I’m ready for the slow lane, and meditation is teaching me how to gently pull over and coast for a little while every day.
Do you have a daily practice that nourishes your health and happiness? I want to hear about your experience. Email me at email@example.com with your story.
Quick Stop Health Assessment
I thought I’d kick off 2013 with the latest edition of my Natural Healing Omaha newsletter. This month features the second in a series on Myths and Misinformation About Herbs with the topic “Herbs don’t work as well as drugs” as well as a cool winter cleanse recipe and other natural health information. You can subscribe to my monthly newsletter by using the form in the right column or emailing me. It’s free!
Beginning today, I’m also offering Quick Stop Assessments, a 15-minute natural health assessment by appointment. Consider it a tune-up for the body as you enter 2013!
Here are four good reasons why the Quick Stop Assessment might be right for you:
- Under the weather? Cold got you down? Fighting a bug? Then a Quick Stop is perfect for determining what might be ailing you. Get the help you need to keep you on your feet!
- Time isn’t always on our side. When life fills up your schedule and you don’t have time for a lengthier appointment, the Quick Stop is ideal. Get an assessment and whatever herbal supplements you need in 20 minutes.
- There’s a reason they call it the Blues. Sometimes it has to do with the weather. Sometimes it has to do with that post-holiday financial crunch or unexpected bills. The Quick Stop Assessment is ideal for those who want to stay healthy but whose budget may be strained.
- Tuneup Time: The Quick Stop is a perfect way to fine tune your body. Let me assess what’s happening under the hood so we can keep your body running in high gear.
Call 402.933.6444 and ask for a Quick Stop appointment with Mo. Just $20, plus herbs.
Toulousse, My Relaxed Cat
Tonite, it took every ounce of will power to sit in meditation for 30 minutes. I spent so much time today working up close and personal with my laptop without taking decent breaks that I gave myself a tension headache. Which got worse as the day went on, until at meditation time it was shooting pain into my temple.
Talk about distracting. So, for the last 7 minutes, I let my cat curl up on my lap and did the quietest, most meditative thing I was capable of right then. I scratched her fuzzy little chin and thought of nothing else but her soft, smooth, warm fur and her soothing purrrrrr under my fingers.
I believe some of the benefit of meditation comes from just ‘being’. Being quiet. Being still. And ultimately, being happy. Well, my shortcut taught me this: pets are great tension-relievers. My headache vanished. As far as I’m concerned, mission accomplished.
My cat and I were happy for seven straight minutes. That’s what I call bliss.
Rosehips herbal tonic is an example of natural healing.
Lately, I’m getting better quality and more hours of sleep consecutively. Hardly any midday energy slumps anymore. In fact, last weekend I stood on a cold, hard cement floor for 6 hours taking people’s pulses and talking up herbal medicine. If anything exhausts me, it’s standing up all day long without a break. I was a little weary the next day, but I stayed up much later than usual, and still got my tree trimmed, went to the Hot Shops open house, walking around on MORE cement floors. Busy, busy, busy, and I feel darn good today.
I’m going on 2 1/2 months of my ‘tonic’ formula to recover from an exhausting Summer. That’s 10 weeks, and that’s about how long it can take to really notice change with herbal tonics. Change in energy, change in sleep, change in lots of unexpected ways. Slow change, but real change.
Of course, the daily meditation is helping. Whenever you combine two or more healing therapies or methods, there’s usually an effect that neither one alone can achieve. Cut out sweets AND start exercising. Meditate AND take an herbal tonic. Get massage AND apply a daily muscle liniment. That’s how this holistic thing works.
Whenever I see a patient who’s using more than one healing ‘modality’ (massage, accupuncture, yoga, diet, prayer, meditation, etc) at a time, I can usually expect a better result when herbs are added into the mix.
So the tonic herbs and the meditation (and a little less nite-time snacking) are working together to give me more energy. Energy for the stuff I love, like hanging out with my family this holiday, teaching and making herbal formulas, and…blogging, of course.