Enter your email to get updates, tips and exercises to help you experience healing and transformation.
Hi. My name is Candice Hughes and I am 55 years old as I write this (April 2008). I am going through menopause and have experienced many of the symptoms described in this website. I have experienced natural menopause relief through different approaches with a good deal of success for these symptoms.
I began studying herbal medicine in my late thirties, and have been lucky enough to study with some of the best herbalists in the country: Adam Seller, Nam Singh O.M.D., Susun Weed, 7Song and others.
The picture at right is me on an herb field trip. This has led me to other areas of natural health, including experimenting with different diets and dietary supplements, homeopathy, acupuncture, aromatherapy, flower essences, and anthroposophical medicine.
I have always been attracted to nature. When I was 11, my mother divorced and we moved to a home that was just up the street from the Pacific Ocean. My mother was now working full-time, so I was alone with my older brother after school until 5 or 6pm. Every day I would go to the beach. Sometimes I took my dog, who loved to chase the sandpipers. I spent hours playing around the tidepools, watching starfish and urchins, or just sitting upon a large rock, watching the fishing boats come in and the sun go down. The rythmic sound of the waves is one of the most soothing sounds I know of.
As an adult I spent many years doing the 9 to 5 job thing, even though I resisted it fiercely in my early twenties. At the age of 37, after being laid off for the third time in ten years, I decided to take a little time and explore areas of interest to me, instead of just grabbing the next job that came along.
I found and attended a four-hour class on herbal medicine. After that I was hooked. I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time; a great place to find herbal medicine education. I ended up taking a 550-hour program on herbal medicine that included over 100 hours of field work – identifying plants in the wild, cutting off leaves or flowers or digging up roots, and cutting or chopping into smaller pieces to make oils or teas or tinctures from them. The program also included several classes in physiology and constitution, and 60 hours of clinic, where we interviewed a client about their general health and any complaints they had and worked up a formula to enhance their health.
At the end of that program my husband and I and our two-year-old son moved to the Sierra Nevada foothills, where I still live. I started helping people with herbs, giving herb walks on our 7-acre property, and taught a few beginning classes about herbs. I also grew herb plants for sale at farmer's markets. After a couple of years of this, I needed to bring in more income for the family, so gave up my herbal practice to work at a part-time job.
Five years after we moved I left my husband and have spent most of my time working several jobs to make ends meet.
After several years of working at a home-based busines and/or two or three jobs at time, and living the reality that if you are self-employed or work part-time, there are no health insurance or any other benefits, the pay is low, you have no sick leave or vacation pay, and there is even less loyalty (I lost two jobs in the same month after giving my heart to both of them, and neither of them were honest or professional about the way they handled it), I caved in and accepted a full-time position. But my dream of being self-employed has not died, which is where this website comes in.
One of my part-time jobs was helping keep the gardens watered, weeded and looking beautiful at my son's school over the summer. It was then that I got back in touch with my love for plants and realized the healing affect they had on me just by being around them.
As it turned out, right about the same time I left my marriage I started having perimenopausal symptoms, although I didn't recognize them as that at the time. I had had some headaches off and on, but now I was getting migraines that lasted two or three days! And mood swings, which I thought were related to the separation, and I'm sure some of it was that, but these swings were wild! I could cry at nothing for days on end.
I had heard about progesterone cream, but thought it was another “marketing miracle cream” and didn't think it was worth much. But something a friend said made me give it a second thought, and after reading up on it, decided to try it. It worked wonders for me, and was the beginning of trying many natural approaches to help with my menopause symptoms.
It seems everyone is talking about herbs and natural health these days. I see talk about herbs from doctors to people off the street. On the one hand this is great to see herbs and their healing abilities become mainstream, but there is a lot of misinformation and marketing manipulation that goes on as a result of this popularity. Herbs are not “green pills”, they don't work like drugs in the body, and just because a formula or tablet has ginseng in it, doesn't mean there's enough of it to be beneficial in any way.
I am continuously amazed when I go to the local health food grocer and can't find really basic herbs like gentian in their inventory, but they'll have many herbs that, exotic as their properties may sound, really have very little use in your herbal pantry. Or herbs in tincture form that only work as a tea. I could go on, but you get the idea.
My health philosophy is this: There is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle. Good, nutrient-dense food (which means forget about processed food), regular exercise of some sort, enough sleep, and whatever practices you need to keep your mental attitude and spirit nourished is THE sure-fire way to experience good health.
Failing this lifestyle, which can become a career in itself to create, given our current constraints in modern civilization, you can use herbs as food to support your dietary and lifestyle insufficiencies; after that you can use stronger herbs and vitamin supplements to target and help balance out weaknesses in your body; and you can use stronger and stronger substances until you need drugs or surgery, which probably won't help your health, it's more like a band-aid.
I am not against doctors. I use them fairly frequently, and some of them have become great partners in my quest for health. But I don't give over my responsibility for my health to them. They can only help me help myself.
My wish for you is that you become more in touch with your body and your needs so that you can nourish yourself where you need it, and use this special time to transform all of your relationships, from your loved ones to your self and your life.