“I am not a Woman, I am a World.”
Queen of Sheba
A woman's transition into her Wisdom years is a metamorphosis into her fullness and thus is a season of life exceedingly worthy of honor and esteem, both to and by her. Menopause then can be a woman's initiation into a grace-filled time of life, an initiation given by life itself and witnessed and celebrated by her family, her society and herself. To optimize this transformation, one can initiate true wellness practices and intentions early, in the 30's if not the 20's, to ensure an empowered and graceful menopause.
In many traditional views the life of woman can be divided into three main seasons of a single endless cycle.
The springtime of life is marked by accumulation of physicality and experience and governed by the Earth element. The summer of a woman's life is marked by activated transformation of herself and her environment and is governed by the fire element. The autumn and winter of a woman" life is marked by the dissemination and transmission of Wisdom and guidance and is governed by the Air and Space elements so redolent of greater vision, perspective and subsequent guidance of skillful means.
We need replace the term "post-menopausal" with "wisdom years" so that our matriarchs can leave this transition behind. Calling an 80 year old woman "post-menopausal" is like calling a 30 year old woman a new born. Labels have creative power so let's be savvy in how we hold space for each other's empowerment.
Everybody knows that a woman's cycle flows according to the Moon and thus, compared to a male, she is instinctively more tuned in to the rhythms of nature and especially with the tides of inner juice, or Rasa as it is called. Thus the menopausal woman must make an effort to retain and deepen this awareness to those patterns of change that are changeless. She should also remember to always protect her inner juice from the deep dehydration that so readily besets her.
For more Vedic etymological insights into menarche, menstruation, menopause and the Wisdom years see my blog Vedic Insights into Menstruation and Menopause.
There are many types of natural estrogens within us and at each stage of a woman's life one distinct estrogen will likely dominate.
Though these estrogens are produced mainly in the ovaries and in the placenta, their metabolism is a complex web involving the liver, adrenals and the brain. In turn, besides obviously regulating reproductive anatomy and physiology, all estrogens, for better or for worse, also affects the brain, bone, cardiovascular system, and many other tissues. In and beyond menopause it is key to a woman's wellness to maintain healthy estrogen dominance transitions.
To maintain healthy levels of the estrogens you need, there is no substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle. In addition to this one would also want to consume certain phytoestrogens, estrogen-like molecules found in certain plants. Great sources of phytoestrogens are organic biodynamic Shatavri, Red Clover, Lady's Mantle and Turmeric. These phytoestrogenic herbs have been used by cultures for thousands of years to make these estrogen domain transitions as smooth and graceful as possible.
Pertinent to menopause, most Estrone (E1), unlike other forms of estrogen, is made in fat tissue with some generated in muscle. So the more fat you have the more estrone may be produced, as well as other challenging factors that can cause imbalances in blood sugar levels and pro-inflammatory molecules. Also, the more fat you carry, regardless of your age, the more estrone will be a dominant part of your experience, including experiences of early menopausal symptoms.
This connection between adipose tissue and Estrone is one of the potential vicious cycles that can be avoided with a diet, exercise protocol and lifestyle that supports balanced tone and muscle. The traditional knowledge regarding the effectiveness of an active life in maintaining true wellness has been confirmed in many western science studies. Herbs that support healthy fat metabolism and tone are the balanced metabolic adaptogens like Ginger, Tulsi, Cinnamon and Pippilli, the deep terrain restorative formula Liver Kidney, and the classic deep digestive formulas including Trikatu and Triphala.
Xenoestrogens (XE), literally meaning "strange foreign estrogens," are toxic insidious man-made molecules that "appear" to the body as estrogens because they can engage and activate estrogen receptors systemically. XEs clearly disrupt physiologic estrogenic responses in human organs and in their progeny. XE's, which are practically ubiquitous in our environments as they include everything from food coloring to pesticides to plastics to emulsifiers to paints, are known to give breasts to 8 year old boys, steal the masculinity and reproductive capacity from males in general, and cause both early and afflicted menarche and menopause transitions.
XEs don"t just disrupt estrogen signaling and thus our cell function, but rather wreaks havoc with it as they ravage like a storm of toxic waste through the cellular milieu that controls the dozens of functions absolutely vital to our wellness. This includes immunity, inflammatory response and even including "sanity" in the sense that memory, cognitive function and moods are certainly not impervious to estrogens, especially xenoestrogens.
Moral of the story here is this: with your wise choices and the steady stream of small daily purchases, for the benefit of all beings, keep endocrine disruptors out of the environment. For more information on Xenoestrogens see my blog Xenoestrogens Are Destroying Sexual And Reproductive Capability.
Unlike Xenoestrogens which support horrendous versions of cell division, it is well known that many phytoestrogens support healthy cell division and apoptosis (programmed cell death) when combined with endogenous physiologic estrogens.nAgain, a true matriarch of women's wellness herbs is without doubt Shatavri as it so deeply nourishes our core energy, optimizes sexual and reproductive function in both males and females, and does a pretty good job as a detoxifying pro-liver antioxidant.
Other healthy sources of phytoestrogens include Shatavri, Red Clover, Lady's Mantle, Turmeric, High Lignan Flax, Dioscorea, Evening Primrose, Fennel, Anise, Fenugreek and small amounts of traditional fermented Soy preparations, like natto.
As the Air and Space elements rule the Wisdom years it is exceedingly easy for the matriarch to find herself in a state of deep dehydration. I see this constantly, in fact, I would aver to say that at least 70% of peri-and post menopausal women that consult with me are deeply dehydrated. It is imperative that this is reversed as that dryness, via many mechanisms, accelerates aging while attenuating function.
For more information on the many ways to restore healthy deep hydration please see my blog “Women in High Places.” For now suffice it to say that most women consume enough of the raw materials for hydration, water, but also must consume those foods and herbs which support the right intelligence of hydration:
You may wonder why I included a pungent herb like Cinnamon in a list of herbs that have the intelligence of deep hydration. Have you ever noticed the mucilage created by Cinnamon powder added to water? Well that mucilage supports a hydrated inner terrain. Cinnamon also has a special affinity for supporting a woman's reproductive system and in the right dose with the right herbs (for instance Shatavri and Rehmannia with its monoterpene iridoids) its pungency is not drying but rather an important assistant in assuring deep hydration. This makes the new Tulsi Cinnamon Rose Tea an extra fantastic ally to the matriarch.
In the last few years it has become common knowledge that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) often uses types and doses of Estrogen, like estradiol, that simply may not be right for everybody in this stage of life. In fact, HRT is often experienced as disastrous by many as it can significantly disturb the healthy balance of blood lipids, blood sugar, and systemic inflammatory responses in general. Many women have better results when they request that their Health Care Provider use more natural protocols, including phytoestrogens and "bio-identical" hormones.
I have to be clear here: you can have all the calcium in the world and still not have the best bones. To have healthy bones it takes the innate intelligence to skillfully manage where minerals are in the body and how they are used, how they are distributed, and how they flow daily into and out of the bone as bone.
For this I highly recommend Dr. Narendra Singh's tried and true Osteoseal formula. Yes, this formula supplies calcium, but that is only the mere beginning. Much more importantly this formula directly supports mineral management. So though the tagline on the bottle itself is "Herbal Calcium" a more accurate tagline may be “Herbal Mineral Management."
Shatavri is in this formula as her phytoestrogens are renown to support healthy bones, and she is a very nutritive plant with a great wealth of minerals, trace elements and also calcium. And then the Sahijan, the Moringa, is in the formula as it supports bone health but also has such an incredible array of minerals and nutrients that many people call it the Miracle Tree.
As you know now I see this topic of menopause and the transition into the wisdom years as a very important opportunity to accomplish foundational activism that will benefit all beings as it re-hydrates us with the deep creative and restorative juice of the Divine Feminine, a force of nature finally returning now after being attacked and marginalized for the last 2,000 years. It is up to all of us to ensure that our women's wisdom years are a grace-filled higher state and that an empowering menopause is part of that transition/initiation into that. The best way to make that transition is to live a whole life of True Wellness, and that includes knowing, creating, esteeming, and following the matriarch and the wisdom she is.