Dr. Christiane Northrup introduced women to the power and possibilities of alternative and complementary medicine through her 1994 book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. When hormone replacement therapy became a frightening topic, Northrup was there with The Wisdom of Menopause in 2001. That book was updated this year with scientific and research advances as well as Northrup’s own story. When she wrote the first edition, she hadn’t been through menopause yet. “I look and feel younger at 62 than I did in my 40s,” she says.
What was the genesis of The Wisdom of Menopause?
I wanted women to have a handbook to ease the transition of menopause. I wanted to give them the tools to understand what was happening, from the standpoint of their soul – so they didn’t feel victimized by their bodies.
You’ve said that many women might not need hormones to get them through menopause.
Yes, that’s true. The first thing women need to make sure is that they are living a healthy lifestyle: getting enough sleep – this is huge; decreasing or eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates from their diets; eating a healthy breakfast.
But if you’re doing all that, then my gold standard answer is, “Don’t suffer.” If you are losing sleep with hot flashes and have tried every alternative, by all means go on a low dose of hormones. I also believe it’s best to use the least hormones for the least amount of time possible.
You are a longtime believer in Traditional Chinese Medicine and herbal treatments. What would you recommend for perimenopausal or menopausal women?
The one thing I’ve really considered a breakthrough is called Pueraria mirifica. It’s an herb that’s been used in Thailand for 700 years. Many women find that if they take this, their insomnia and mood swings go away in four days. I like Solgar PM Phytogen complex.
What other dietary and herbal supplements might we consider?
Our bodies might need extra B vitamins – these are easily depleted by stress. Many of us are woefully deficient in Omega 3 fats. Taking a magnesium supplement at night can be very calming. And soaking in an Epsom salt bath is good for detoxing, as well as calming.
What do you know now that you didn’t know when you first wrote The Wisdom of Menopause?
Menopause is the death of the old self. I know this personally now. The unsustainable structures in your life will start hitting you between the eyes. You might feel rage and grief. That’s not just your hormones; it’s your life talking.