Women that I know, and once myself included, hate menopause. Hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, memory loss, headaches, depression, higher risk for osteoperosis… the list of menopausal symptoms seems endless. Is it any wonder that women fear and loathe this transition? But, why? Why is being a woman so damned difficult?!? Has it always been this way? Seems like evolution would come into play here and make us not want to perpetuate this seemingly terrible curse upon our own daughters. Certainly ERT/HRT (estrogen replacement therapy/hormone replacement therapy) is not the norm in cultures that still live as their ancestors did! So the question is, “Is this normal?”
I have discovered that healed adrenals (healed with Standard Process supplements via my nutritionist) and a proper diet (more akin to paleo diet) have kept these terrible symptoms at bay. So I began to search online for how menopause was viewed and treated in more primitive cultures that still exist today. I’m focusing this blog entry on one particular article* I found.
I don’t necessarily agree with everything in this article* as I do believe that proper food will keep menopause symptoms away, but there are a lot of good points:
“What’s more is that the women in Chichimilá, like the Japanese, seem to avoid osteoporosis. Though their estrogen levels drop at menopause, just like ours, and they experience a reduction in bone mineral density, as we do, there is no clinical evidence of an increase in bone fractures or osteoporosis.”
The reason for this is that the bones aren’t necessarily weaker if they are less dense. When western women take estrogen in an effort to curb osteoporosis, the bone density increases because estrogen keeps old bone from shedding. Another thing missed is that progesterone helps replace old, dead bone that has shed with new bone. So a woman on ERT (estrogen replacement therapy) will indeed show more bone density, but it doesn’t mean those bones are stronger. In fact, they are weaker, especially since there is no progesterone to grow new, healthy bone.
“The Mayans have an all-natural, herb-based diet, and a slow, relatively easy pace of life, both elements which contribute heavily to fewer menopausal symptoms, and ideas we have emphasized at Women to Women for years. Mayan women also acquire new status when they enter menopause: they can become spiritual leaders of their communities.”
“Across indigenous cultures, from the Maori in New Zealand to the Iroquois Indians, post-menopausal women are community leaders with considerable power and status. To these people, menopause itself is the transition between being a member of the community at large to becoming a spiritual elder.”
“A common belief among traditional shamanic cultures — for example, Mayan women and the Cree women of Canada — is that women must enter menopause to access their shamanic and healing powers. Menstrual blood has the power to create life in the womb, so when women reach the age of retaining their “wise blood,” they cross the threshold into “wise womanhood” by keeping their wise blood within. At this point they become priestesses and healers — the spiritual leaders of their communities.”
Typically, traditional cultures view women in three stages: the girl, the mother and the crone. Crone wasn’t always a bad word and it shouldn’t be now. I’m technically still in the “mother” phase but feel like, not just biologically due to my hysterectomy, but emotionally am also entering the “crone” phase. Perhaps this is why I’ve taken such a strong interest in natural health and healing and am looking to a career as an herbalist…
This article also talks about how Freud may have skewed the scale when it comes to how most (not all) native/primitive cultures view women in menopause. I admitedly don’t know a lot about him, but what I do know, I don’t care for at all. According to this article, he presented a patriarchal viewpoint in the Western cultures and there is this sense that women are only good for their ability to have children. So if a culture, say one like ours, view the “mother” stage as the ultimate, best and only useful stage of womanhood, then is it a wonder women dread aging and menopause to start with? Then add in all the complicated symptoms that we western women have to endure and it’s not fun, much less “normal” feeling!
Again, I do NOT agree with everything in that article as they still talk about menopause from a western viewpoint of taking HRT, however, there were some good points to consider, especially if you are not wanting to take ERT/HRT. Even “bioidentical” isn’t really natural (not in my sense of the word anyway – basically if you are not producing the hormone yourself, then it isn’t natural) and can raise the risks of cancer (I’m stunned that even my own GYN claims that ERT reduces the risk of some cancers, instead of pointing to the links to breast cancer – which is rampant in this Western society right now).
I would urge every woman out there, menopausal or not, to read Why Am I So Wacky? and try to find a Weston A. Price Foundation member nutritionist to help them heal their adrenals (male or female). I do believe that modern medicine is doing far more harm than good. This is based on my own personal experiences and observations. I’m not a doctor or scientist but I don’t need to be in order to know that what we have been doing for the past 10 years has made things worse, not better.
One more thing to consider in regards to health overall, from a prepper standpoint, do you really want to have to rely on medications to keep you sane or seemingly healthy? Wouldn’t it be better to learn to be healthy with real, whole foods instead? It would be far easier in a survival situation to learn to be healthy by living off what nature provides so consider doing what you can with the help of a nutritionist to get off your medications and still be fit and healthy, or, as in our case, get fit and healthy before SHTF. Weston A. Price Foundation has a great member program where you can find a group and likely a nutritionist in your area!
*”Women to Women: A look at menopause across cultures” by Dixie Mills, MD http://www.womentowomen.com/menopause/menopauseacrosscultures.aspx