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Herbs and other natural remedies for menopause can go a long way toward restoring your vitality during this time of change, if you know what you are doing. Complicated formulas with many exotic herbs are not necessary. Paying attention to what you eat and whether or not your food is nutrient-dense or an anti-health product disguised as something else is all that is necessary.
Herbs as Food
In traditional cultures, food eaten was very different from what we eat today. Even food we may think of as natural is in all likelihood processed to the extent that it is practically unfit for consumption.
Below are some plant forms of these traditional foods. You will probably find places on the internet that talk about taking these in capsule, or pill form. I urge you not to do this. For one thing, you lose the experience of taking it in as food. Your body does not respond the same to a pill as it does to food. There is no smell or taste to it. Your digestive processes are dependent on smell and taste of what you are eating. It responds differently to a gelatin capsule than a mineral-rich tea.
Stinging Nettles – Urtica dioica – For Concentrated Nourishment and General Well-Being
The first encounter I remember with stinging nettles was when I was 12 years old and had gone exploring in the park and creek across from our new house. I was running along and all of a sudden my calf started stinging. When I looked down, it had turned red. I did not discover the plant that day, it was only after having been stung a couple more times that I found the source.
Nettles grow just about everywhere – all over Europe, Asia and North America. They have been used for food for hundreds of years, and have many other uses as well.
Nettles are still used as food in Europe, sauteed in olive oil and garlic like you would chard or kale, or in a cream of nettles soup.
One of the best natural remedies for menopause, nettles are very high in minerals, especially calcium, chromium, magnesium and zinc. Nettles are very nourishing to the adrenals, the kidneys and the cardiovascular system.
Use them as a liquid source of concentrated vitamins and minerals that your body will recognize.
To make an infusion, pour one quart of boiling water over 1 ounce of herb. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for four – eight hours. Strain and drink. I like to add a bit of cherry flavor to mine to cut the strong taste – I use ½ teaspoon flavoring to ½ cup of infusion.
Oatstraw – Avena sativa - For Relieving that Stressed-Out Feeling, and Insomnia
Oatstraw, like nettles, is rich in many minerals, especially magnesium, calcium and chromium. It is a gentle, deeply nourishing aid to your nervous system. It helps with high stress. It can also relieve insomnia. This is another one of the top remedies for menopause.
Common Garlic – For heart health and Immune Support
Garlic is a superb tonic for your heart. It can lower blood pressure and reduce the free radicals that damage cholesterol. It can stabilize blood sugar. It is antibacterial and antifungal. I have used it on warts (I taped some crushed garlic on the wart, it fell off in about a week). I also use it in the rare occasion I feel a cold coming on. I crush two cloves and wash them down with water. I use it in combination with echinacea and vitamin C to slow down the infection.
Although recent studies have proved inconclusive, earlier studies have proved the effectiveness of garlic for these issues.
The recent studies are being criticized for low sample size, low doses of garlic, and the type of garlic preparation used. Cooking garlic destroys some of the ingredients that are effective. Only use raw garlic, and you will need to eat several cloves/day to get the beneficial effects.
Probiotics and Lacto-fermented Foods for Digestive Health
Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are beneficial bacteria that live in your gut. They help you absorb nutrients, reduce free radicals, and prevent intestinal infections. They also manufacture some B vitamins and protect the walls of the intestine.
Bifidobacteria are affected by the foods you eat. Antibiotics will kill off some of these bacteria. They also need certain substances from the diet in order to thrive. These substances are called fructooligosaccharides, or FOS for short. These are found in onions, asparagus and bananas.
FOS can be purchased in capsule form, along with probiotics. They are destroyed by heat, so they need to be freeze-dried in powder or capsules in opaque containers. The bottle should list the concentration of viable bacteria. Take one to ten billion per day of probiotics. Of all the natural remedies for menopause, this could be one of the most important.
Traditional diets include many recipes for lacto-fermented foods and beverages. The processes used to produce these foods keep them from spoiling as well as being beneficial for the gut and digestion. This is a more holistic way to get your probiotics. The best sources are to make your own yogurt or sauerkraut. There are detailed instructions in several books: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz are a couple of them.
And for stress, vitality and anti-aging, there is nothing better than the ginsengs.