Natural Health & Wellness
December: The Healing Power of Darkness
by Lynn Woodland
In this holiday-packed time of year one could almost overlook the deepening darkness and the inclination to hibernate that are natural to the season. People of not so many generations back used to sleep more in these long nights. Not us. We turn on the lights, indoors and out, fight nature’s pull to cozy in, and schedule the splashiest late-night parties of the year. Instead of becoming quiet and introspective, we’re more likely than ever to lose ourselves in a frenetic social whirl.
There is, of course, something miraculous and hopeful happening this time every year, something truly worth celebrating: the simple, wondrous rebirth of light where the ever-increasing darkness of fall gives way to the lengthening days of winter and spring. The many spiritual holidays celebrated within days or weeks of the winter solstice all echo our instinctive understanding of light’s importance to our physical survival and spiritual renewal.
Light is an often-used metaphor for all things wise and wonderful. We “see the light,” find “light at the end of a tunnel” and a “silver lining around every dark cloud.” It’s easy to give credit for all things good to the light and simply ignore the power of dark; darkness, with its opposite connotations of fearfulness, depression, ignorance and death.
Yet, here we are in a time of year when it’s difficult to deny the presence of darkness, as hard as we may try. What’s more, whatever we ignore inevitably has a way of sneaking up from behind and tripping us when we’re not looking. This is certainly true of those aspects of self we don’t like. The ones we keep hidden in the dark nether regions of our being because they’re too painful, too shameful, or too imperfect to admit to ourselves, let alone to other people.
So, here’s a different kind of winter solstice ritual, one that honors the moment of deepest darkness that has to happen before we can give ourselves over to the jubilant celebration of light. After all, this is the perfect time of year to give darkness its due and, for once, stop trying to ignore or artificially light it out of existence. And even though it may not inspire the cheerful exuberance of spring or summer, see if this exercise doesn’t leave you clearer, cleaner, and more ready to fully embrace the deep quiet miracle of light that is the season’s truest offering.
As a starting place, take a moment to reflect on the year that’s been, the one that’s following its natural course and ending in darkness. What are the stand-out “points of darkness” you experienced this year? The very worst of times, the biggest catastrophes, the deepest despair, the times you most want to forget ever happened?
As you recall these moments, notice the feelings these memories evoke. We tend to suppress, ignore or medicate pain out of existence in much the same way we artificially cover darkness with light. Unfortunately, all these pain-coping methods don’t make pain go away, just underground until it eventually grows too big to ignore. So instead of sending one more bit of pain to the dark, crowded storage locker of your psyche, this time simply be with it.
Notice how it feels in your body. Is it a sinking feeling in your gut? An empty place in your heart? A cloud of confusion around your head? A lump in your throat? A tense, armored feeling in your muscles? A clenched feeling in your jaw or fists? A fearfulness in your bowels? Instead of turning away from these raw places, this time give them your full attention. Notice the sensation of the feeling in your body and relax into it. Stop struggling. Stop thinking, stop trying to move on or make it go away.
Also let go of familiar interpretations and judgments you have around these feelings: “My sadness is bottomless. If I truly feel it, I’ll just fall deeper and deeper until I drown.” Or “My anger is wrong. I shouldn’t have it. It will hurt someone.” Tell yourself instead that as you stop resisting feeling, pain stops being pain and becomes something usable, something healing. Go deeply enough into these dark parts of yourself until you feel your resistance letting go, struggle being replaced by surrender, tension turning into relaxation, fear giving way to an awareness that there is nothing to fear.
Now, imagine yourself in total darkness. (Try doing this at night.) Most of us can recall middle of the night anxieties where we lay awake in bed, in the dark, and our whole world looked dismal and dangerous in a way it seldom does during the day. The darkness to imagine now is a different one altogether (or perhaps the same, but we are different). This darkness is healing.
So many of us on a spiritual path have invoked the healing power of light, but what about that of dark? Imagine darkness around you like sheltering earth around a seed. Instead of imagining light pouring into the wounded places of your soul, imagine darkness, like a mother, drawing out of you the pain, doubt, worry, resentment, confusion and fear that interfere with peace. Feel it absorbing into itself the thoughts, memories and patterns that keep you from being your true self. Let the dark take back to itself all the darkness in you so there’s nothing left but light. The light that needs no artificial or external inducement. The Inner Light that has always been there. Feel yourself in this dark like a caterpillar in its chrysalis, safe and sheltered while a miraculous flurry of transformation is quietly underway.
Last, but not least, reflect again on those moments of darkness that have occurred in your life this year and now, instead of feeling the pain, ask them to show you their hidden blessings. How have you deepened, strengthened, changed direction, reached out to others or cared more deeply for yourself? How have you learned compassion, acceptance or forgiveness? Or gained clarity, broken down barriers, found your tenderness, released stubbornness and ego, or allowed others to help you? How has your very definition of who you are changed? Give thanks for the power of darkness to polish, facet and bring out the natural brilliance of your heart.
Consider sharing with another person the story of finding great blessing in this year’s points of darkness. Let the power of your spoken word change your personal mythology, transforming defeats and losses into powerful stories of resurrection.
Lynn Woodland is author of Making Miracles-Create New Realities for Your Life and Our World, from Namaste Publishing and creator of The Miracles Course, an online coaching program for living a miraculous life. Lynn welcomes your comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More on her work at www.LynnWoodland.com
Overdue for a New Point of View on the Flu?
By Dr. Shawna Eischens
Welcome to the beautiful season of Fall-the beginning of football games, all things pumpkin flavored, and the dreaded flu. The 2013/2014 season of influenza has officially started and is expected to be in full force by January/February. Before you run out and get your flu shot, read on to educate yourself so you can make the best choices for you and your family.
It is estimated that 5-20% of the United States population gets the flu each year and may experience a fever, cough, sore throat, aches, fatigue, and/or nasal symptoms. Complications may include pulmonary or cardiac issues and are of greater concern for people with asthma or those whose immune system is compromised.
For sports fans, this can be thought of as your “defensive line” preventing illness from temporarily defeating your body. Hand washing, proper nutrition (eating whole foods, vegetables, and fresh garlic, avoiding sugar, alcohol, and processed foods), sleep, and stress management are just a few ways to keep your body in prime shape to fight off lurking microbes that we encounter on a daily basis.
Even though we come in contact with many viruses and bacteria every day, we aren’t always sick thanks to our powerful internal defensive line. Contrary to what many may believe, it is not unhealthy to come down with the occasional cold or flu that passes quickly. The duration and frequency of illness is a great indicator of how our body’s immune system is functioning. By fasting or nourishing your body with anti microbial foods and herbs and allowing your body to rest to focus on healing, you will be able to overcome illnesses more quickly.
Knowing that the influenza virus is prevalent, is the flu vaccine your best option?
Reliable statistics on the efficacy of the flu vaccine are difficult to find for various reasons, but it has been estimated that vaccines are 19-89% effective at preventing the flu. Published research from June 2013 states that for those immunized against the flu in any given year, only about 1 person out of 100 received any benefit. It was also found that the immunization did not reduce complications or days lost from work due to illness. Vaccines in children aged two years or younger are not significantly more efficacious than placebo.
Since the flu vaccine is developed based on previously circulating strains and geographical region, it is difficult to know how protected you will be from this year’s influenza virus.
What’s in a flu shot?
Although ingredients vary based on the form and name of a vaccine, the following ingredients are most commonly used in influenza vaccinations.
Chicken embryo and egg protein are used to culture the virus and may create issues for people allergic to eggs.
Formaldehyde is a chemical used to inactivate the virus and is neurotoxic and carcinogenic.
Thimerosal/mercury is a preservative used in multi-dose vials. This is also a neurotoxin.
Neomycin is an antibiotic that can damage the kidneys when given intravenously.
Various other additives and stabilizers such as MSG, sucrose, gelatin, etc. are often used as well.
Just like many decisions in life and medicine, a risk vs. benefit ratio must be considered whether you want to inject these chemicals into your body to possibly avoid contracting the flu.
What other options are there besides the flu vaccine?
Foregoing a traditional flu vaccination does not mean that you should choose to do nothing to protect yourself and others against the flu. In addition to the suggestions mentioned in the “prevention” paragraph above, there are various immune boosting and anti-viral options for you to take advantage of.
Nutrient IV’s, homeopathic remedies or injections, herbal tinctures, and specific supplements are all safe and effective options to keep you healthy this flu season and beyond.
Colostrum supplementation has been shown to be at least 3 times more effective than vaccination to prevent flu in both healthy subjects and patients with high-risk cardiovascular concerns.
Homeopathic injections don’t contain eggs, viral particles or preservatives and have been shown to prevent viruses, allergies, sinusitis, and asthma.
However you decide to defend yourself against this year’s flu, know that there are various safe and effective options besides the traditional flu vaccine. To discuss options on how to protect you and your family from potential or current illness, call Dr. Shawna Eischens at Pingel Progressive Medicine (602-845-8949) and visit www.pingelprogressivemedicine.com
Ease Those Bug Bites with Easy Herbs
by Susun S Weed
Summertime means insect bites and stings. Ouch! Take a leaf from Susun S. Weed’s storehouse of natural remedies: Soothe, heal, and prevent bites with safe herbal remedies that grow right where you live, north or south, east or west, city or country. The best natural remedies for insect bites are right underfoot.
Plantain, also called ribwort, pig’s ear, and the band-aid plant, is a common weed of lawns, driveways, parks, and playgrounds. Identify it by the five parallel veins running the length of each leaf. (Most leaves have a central vein with smaller ones branching out from it.) You may find broad leaf plantain (Plantago majus), with wide leaves and a tall seed head, or narrow leaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata), with long thin leaves and a small flower head that looks like a flying saucer. Many Plantago species have seeds and leaves that can be used as food or medicine. A South American variety (Plantago psyllium) is used to make Metamucil.(TM)
How to use plantain? Make a fresh leaf poultice. Pick a leaf, chew it well and put it on the bite. “Like magic” the pain, heat, and swelling — even allergic reactions — disappear, fast! (Yes, you can dry plantain leaves and carry them in your first aid kit. Chew like you would fresh leaves.)
Poultices ease pain, reduce swelling, and help heal. No wonder they’re the number one natural choice for treating insect bites, bee and wasp stings.
Mud is the oldest and simplest poultice. Powdered white clay, which should be mixed with a little water or herb tea, can be applied directly to the sting as soon as possible. Clay can be kept on hand at all times and is less likely to contain fungal spores than the real thing. Finely ground grains such as rice or oatmeal, or bland starchy substances like mallow root, grated potato, or arrowroot powder also used as soothing poultices to ease itching and pain from insect bites.
Fresh-herb poultices are a little more complicated, but not by much. Just find a healing leaf, pluck it, chew it, and apply it directly to the sting/bite. If you wish, use a large leaf or an adhesive bandage to hold the poultice in place. Plantain, comfrey (Symphytum uplandica x), yellow dock (Rumex species), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), wild mallow (Malva neglecta), chickweed (Stellaria media),and yarrow are only a few of the possiblities.
In the woods, you can take a leaf from a tree, chew it and apply that to the bite. Any tree will do in an emergency, but if you have a choice, the best leaves are those from witch hazel, willow, oak, or maple. Play it safe: Learn to recognize witch hazel (Hamamelis virginia) and willow (Salix species) leaves before you chew on them. Maple (Acer) or oak (Quercus) leaves are easier to recognize and safer to chew — unless you live where poison oak grows. If uncertain, avoid all shrubs and any trees with slick or shiny leaves. If the leaf you are chewing tastes extremely bitter or burns your mouth, spit it out at once.
To repel ticks, mosquitoes, and black flies, try a diluted tincture of yarrow (Alchellia millefolium) flowers directly on all exposed skin. A recent US Army study showed yarrow tincture to be more effective than DEET as an insect repellent.
If you’ve spent the day in an area where lyme disease is common, take a shower right away and scrub yourself with a bodybrush. Have a friend check you out for ticks. Also, it takes the tick some time to make up its mind where to bite, so most are unattached and will wash off.
“If the worst happens and I do get a bite, I help my immune system by taking a daily dose of 2-6 dropperfuls of Echinacea tincture. I avoid Goldenseal as I believe it could have adverse effects. If I have symptoms, I use a dropperful of St. Joan’s wort (Hypericum) tincture three times a day to help inactivate the lyme’s organism.”
Secrets of Aboriginal Healing
A Physicist’s Journey with a Remote Australian Tribe
by Gary Holz
In 1983 award-winning physicist Gary Holz was diagnosed with chronic progressive multiple sclerosis. By 1988 he was wheelchair bound. Then, in 1994, his doctors told him he had two years to live. Desperate and depressed, he followed a synchronistic suggestion and went to Australia to live with a remote Aboriginal tribe. Arriving in a wheelchair, alone, with almost no feeling left from the neck down, Holz embarked on a remarkable healing transformation of body, mind, and spirit and discovered his own gift for healing others.
Written at the request of the Aboriginal healers Holz worked with, this book reveals the beliefs and principles of the 60,000-year-old healing system of the Aborigines of Australia, the world’s oldest continuous culture. Chronicling the step-by-step process that led to his miraculous recovery, he explains the role played by thought in the creation of health or disease and details the five essential steps in the Aboriginal healing process. He explores the use of dreamtime, spirit guides, and telepathy to discover and reprogram the subconscious motivations behind illness—a process that enacts healing at the cellular and the soul level, where the root of physical illness is found.
Supported by modern science, including quantum physics, Aboriginal medicine enables each of us to tap in to healing support through the power of the body/mind/spirit connection.
Ending the War with Your Body:
An Interview with Blossom Benedict
by Corinne L. Casazza
How many of us have waged war on our bodies? In an endless circle of trying to eat right, end illness and just feel better in general, we’ve tried everything, listened to the advice of countless doctors and experts and still ended up frustrated. What if we listened to the inherent wisdom of our bodies instead? Blossom Benedict did just that and it allowed her to heal. She now teaches others how to listen to, understand and follow the clear signals our bodies are sending us. Her upcoming book, Ending the War with Your Body is due out next year.
Blossom was no stranger to illness. She had a digestive disorder, a thyroid condition, and several knee surgeries by the age of 16. A singer whose vocal cords had been ruined by disease, she felt “like my body had let me down and was sick of going to yet another specialist only to find they couldn’t solve it either. I saw everyone, plus made all the lifestyle changes: juicing, cleanses, meditation, diets, even gazing at the sun… Nothing worked!”
Learning to Listen
In searching for answers, Blossom tried conventional and alternative therapies. She only came to rely on her body’s wisdom as a last resort. Introduced to a set of tools that included questions, she became curious, wondering, “What if my body knows what it requires? What if it’s the only one that knows what it requires?”
Blossom had no idea how to listen to her body. “These questions were the first time I was introduced to the concept that your body actually has consciousness. From there I began the journey to learn how to have a conversation with my body. How to listen to it. It’s been remarkable.” Her symptoms disappeared once she gained her body’s wisdom.
Blossom recommends people begin by having a conversation with their body. “Acknowledge that your body has consciousness. I started asking things like, ‘Body do you want to eat this?’ In the beginning I couldn’t hear the answers. The more I asked, the more information I got.”
It took her a few months to stop judging and instead keep asking her body what it required and what it wanted her to know. She found her body had been giving her very clear, loud messages, but she hadn’t been listening.
Blossom asked her body what it would like to eat, to wear, and even who it wanted to have sex with! She said, “We think that we wear clothes, but our body is the one who actually wears the clothes and feels them on our skin and looks good in them. Our body has the perspective on all these things.”
She recommends learning muscle testing to hear the answers your body is giving you. It’s also important not to fixate on the answer. “If you’re not getting information, ask another question. The question itself is magic. Just by asking, you are creating space in the universe for something to show up that’s different than what you had concluded.”
One of her favorite questions is “Who does this belong to?” It was the first question she was introduced to and it really shifted things for her. “I didn’t realize I was picking up people’s judgments about food. I’d ask, ‘is this mine?’ If it wasn’t, I’d just return it to sender.”
Another powerful way to receive information from your body is to start noticing your judgments. “The more judgments you can let go of, the more information you’ll get, and the more awareness you’ll have.”
A judgment is anything that has a point of view attached to it. Blossom realized she was judging her food constantly and it was limiting her ability to understand what would work for her. “Every time I had a judgment, I’d say to myself, ‘that’s an interesting point of view.’ I love that phrase because it got me out of thinking that judgment was real or true. I could see that was just one way of looking at it.”
Go with Gratitude
Be grateful for your body. “Gratitude and judgment cannot exist in the same space. Gratitude is magical. Begin with anything you can be grateful for, like feeling the wind or the rain on your skin. Focus on this rather than on what’s not working.”
The practice of gratitude enables you to find more and more to be grateful for. “The more gratitude you have, the less judgment you’ll have and the more you can create what you truly desire.”
For More Information
To learn more about Blossom’s tools to connect with the wisdom of your body, visit her web site at: EndingTheWarWithYourBody.com. Here you’ll find a free 90 minute webinar.
Blossom Benedict is an international speaker, facilitator and transformation coach who has facilitated workshops in 12 different countries and touched thousands of lives with her dynamic presentation of life-changing tools to end the war with your body. She has a regular radio show called Lightness of Change on the Puja Network.
Corinne L. Casazza is a freelance writer based in Boston. Her latest novel Walk Like an Egyptian is available at Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. She is currently at work on a non-fiction book.
Feng Shui Tips for the Kitchen
by Denise Lynn
The preparation of food is an act of the soul, it connects us to the great cycle of life and reminds us that we are dependent upon the abundance of the earth to survive and thrive. Within the kitchen this relationship is ritualized throughout the day, every day, as meals are prepared, shared and consumed. This room also symbolizes your health, abundance and financial resources because the kitchen is where you connect with what sustains you and keeps you alive.
• Make sure your stove is clean and isn’t surrounded by clutter. A dirty stove is thought to deplete energy and drain finances. The burners are most important, but a regular cleaning of the oven and broiler is also recommended.
• Use all of the burners. Only using one or two burners may suggest you are not utilizing the full potential of the abundance which is available to you.
• Broken burners should be fixed immediately. This applies to anything on the stove that doesn’t work, such as the oven light, fan, clock, oven hinges, or cracked or broken knobs.
• Don’t leave empty pans on your stove, as this is believed to symbolize a lack of abundance.
• In Tibetan feng shui, the burner in the far left position is considered the most important, as it symbolizes prosperity. Make sure you use this one occasionally.
• The stove shouldn’t be right next to the refrigerator, if at all possible. (If it is, then put something made of wood, or a photo of trees, on the refrigerator to soften the effect of this inauspicious placement.) The reasoning is that the cooling properties of the refrigerator symbolically dampens the warming aspect of the stove. However, the fire energy becomes stronger when wood is added. Thus, the picture of something wood balanced this energy.
• You shouldn’t be able to see the stove from the front door. This is considered very inauspicious. If so, hang a wind chime, curtain, round-cut crystal, or a mobile between the door and the stove.
In the kitchen there is natural conflict between Fire and Water. The oven, stove, microwave and toaster represent Fire. Water is represented by the sink, refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher. If the oven and sink are on the same wall, they should be separated by counter space if possible.
• Take the garbage out daily. The garbage should not be immediately visible when you enter the kitchen. Place the garbage can in a pantry or under a sink.
• Keep counters as clutter free as possible.
• There shouldn’t be any obstacles to movement in the kitchen. The cook should be able to maneuver quickly and easily throughout the kitchen.
• Generally bright, vibrant light is much better than dim light, and halogen or incandescent light is better than fluorescent.
• Toilets are considered inauspicious and shouldn’t be facing the kitchen. (If so, place a curtain or beaded curtain in front of the door and keep the door closed.)
• In traditional feng shui, an aquarium shouldn’t be in the kitchen because the water element symbolically puts out the fire element of the stove.
• Knives shouldn’t be left out on the counter, especially if they face toward anyone entering the kitchen. Put them away. (However, in a butcher block is okay, if it feels good to you.)
• If there are multiple doors into a kitchen or if, in fact, the kitchen is a passage between rooms or if it’s an open kitchen, the “chi” may be too fast, and it may be hard to hold on to money, or there may be discord between family members. As a suggestion, place wind chimes, mobiles, or faceted crystals in the doorways. Visualize peace and prosperity as you place these objects.
The most important key to great feng shui in your kitchen is paying attention to your intuition. It’s always the best guide, no matter what the feng shui “rules” are.
Denise Linn is an internationally renowned teacher in the field of self-development. She’s the author of the bestseller Sacred Space and the award-winning Feng Shui for the Soul, and has written 16 books, which are available in 24 languages. www.theMysticCookbook.com
by John Pierre
Our brain, similar to our muscles, requires oxygen, nutrients, and stimulation for optimal functioning. Just as our physical performance increases with different and challenging fitness routines, the brain also benefits from mental “cross training” to expand its problem-solving skills, memory, and creativity. The mind can become complacent after a while, doing the same activities day in and day out. Not presenting unique stimuli can cause it to wither, much like a flower going without water for long durations. The more we exercise the brain in unique and unusual ways, the more we flourish by enjoying its increased capabilities. Try the following suggestions to improve mental abilities and challenge the brain:
• Use your non-dominant hand, leg, or appendage every day in a safe way. Write your name, push a button, and eat with the opposite hand (but don’t try to drive a car or pick up hot liquids with the non-dominant hand).
• Look for a new route to get to work or home.
• Read materials that may be more difficult and mentally demanding than your usual selections. If you read the sports section frequently, change it up and try the cooking feature first. If business news gets ignored, stimulate your brain by reading it anyway.
• Expanding your vocabulary is one of the best ways to challenge the brain. Try to learn a few new words every day, as well as their meanings, and use them daily in conversations.
• Challenge the brain with puzzles and games. Invest time in board games, online or printed puzzles, or television trivia shows. When watching a trivia show, try to figure out the answers before the contestants.
• Attempt to learn a foreign language. Even looking up a few new words and using them throughout the day is beneficial.
• Make up fun exercises such as reciting the months of the year in alphabetical order; counting by twos (2, 4, 6, 8) and then counting backward (8, 6, 4, 2) later changing the factor number to five (5, 10, 15), and then counting down backwards with the same factor number (15, 10, 5).
• An hour before going to bed, write down a list of all the significant happenings of the day: 9 A.M.: read a great article on brain health, 10 A.M.: worked on project, 11 A.M.: conference call, 12 P.M.: ate a nutritious vegetable salad, and so on.
• Embrace daydreaming, which is a right-brain, mind-expanding, creativity-liberating activity.
By exploring these mind-expanding ideas, your creativity will flourish and you’ll begin to enjoy greater cognitive function. Remember to flex your mental muscles often. Challenge your brain daily and appreciate its increased capabilities.
Fertility After Forty
by Susun S. Weed
The most fertile years of a woman’s life are those between 18 and 28. Even into the mid-thirties, it is usually fairly easy to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. During these years the hormones that control ovulation, enhance conception, and ensure a healthy pregnancy are usually made easily and in generous quantities. And detrimental life-style choices have not had decades of repetition to create chronic problems.
But more and more women are waiting until their late thirties, early forties, even late forties, to have children. Is this too late? Are these destined to have high-risk pregnancies? Will these children have more birth defects?
The answer to these questions – and others like them – is “no!” for wise women who enlist the help of green allies to increase fertility, ensure conception, prevent birth defects, and promote a healthy pregnancy and an easy delivery.
Increasing Fertility; Ensuring Conception
Increase your chances of conception by meditating. Cultivating a calm attitude, not surprisingly, enhances fertility. Even taking a quiet five minutes alone just for you, free of all responsibilities, can bring big results if done frequently enough.
Use lunaception to time your ovulation so you have the best odds of conceiving. It’s fine to have sex in the weeks before ovulation, especially if the sex is focused on the woman and her orgasm, but do save your best efforts for those three nights when your “moon” is full and bright and ready to frolic.
Orgasm on the part of the male is necessary for fertilization. The woman’s orgasm does increase the possibility of conception. Women who experience orgasm after their partner (up to 40 minutes after his ejaculation) have the very best chance of becoming pregnant.
Red clover is the single best remedy for women over forty who want to conceive but can’t – even if there are medical reasons for not conceiving such as blocked tubes, diabetes, ovarian cysts, internal scarring, or endometriosis. There are many heart-warming success stories I could share about red clover! But suffice to say, drinking 2-4 cups of the infusion of the dried blossoms (neither tincture nor tea nor pills will work for this application) seems to do wonders for fertility, no matter what your age.
Preventing Birth Defects
Boosting your nutritional status makes birth defects less of a worry. Women who drink 2-4 cups of stinging nettle infusion daily and eat cooked leafy greens as well as lettuce salads are getting the abundant folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals needed to create a healthy baby. (Tinctures, pills, and teas contain little or none of these important nutrients.)
Vitamin E is an especially critical nutrient for fertility after forty and freedom from birth defects. Freshly-ground wheat flour, cold-pressed oils, and nut butters are all good sources of vitamin E, as are stinging nettle infusion and most cooked seaweed, such as kelp. The man’s vitamin E level has as much, if not more, bearing on freedom from birth defects as does the woman’s vitamin E level.
Avoid heat, both of you. Hot tubs, even prolonged soaking in a hot bath, can cause temporary (up to several months) sterility in some men. In women, it can endanger the early embryo and trigger a miscarriage or birth defects.
Avoid drugs, both of you, including alcohol, tobacco, coffee, as well as over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs (except those you absolutely need). Your liver needs to be strong and so do your kidneys, so you can conceive and gestate a child. Instead of alcohol, which damages the liver, drink herbal infusions or alcohol-free wine or beer. Instead of tobacco, which may contribute to birth defects and low birth weight, try smoking a little dried peppermint, or, better yet, go for a walk. Instead of coffee, which challenges the kidneys, you may wish to drink green tea or black tea, or try coffee substitutes, especially the one made with dandelion roots. Instead of drugs to ease everyday aches and pains, use the gentle herbal remedies in this book instead.
Ambivalence about pregnancy and parenthood is normal and natural. But the older a woman gets, the more complicated her emotions about it may be. Add to her emotional soup pot strong opinions from family and friends, confusing information spread by the popular media, and fear-inducing pronouncements from “helpful” medical professionals, and that pot will be in danger of boiling over. Herewith then, some wise woman hints for keeping your cool in the midst of overt and covert confusion.
Contrary to current opinion, having children in your forties is ordinary and common worldwide. The Bible mentions several women having children in their fifties. What is unusual and unique to our time is having a first child in one’s forties. Our mother’s, mother’s, mothers were having their fifth or eighth or tenth child when they were in their forties, not their first. If people tell you it just isn’t done, close your eyes and call upon the spirit of your great-great-great-great grandmother, then smile and tell them it seems utterly ordinary to you.
Feeling tense and distressed about choosing or refusing motherhood? Motherwort tincture is my favorite calmative. A dose of 10-20 drops helps clear your mind, eases your tension, and assists you in discerning the best path to follow.
Bach flower remedies excel as helpers when you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Try:
- Aspen when you feel anxious, apprehensive, or afraid of the unknown.
- Mimulus when you are dwelling on a specific fear.
- Elm when you feel overwhelmed or inadequate.
- Red Chestnut when you are afraid for or worried about your baby to be.
- Rock Rose when you are trembling, shaking, or weeping from anxiety or fear.
Regular gentle massage or Reiki treatments not only help you calm your distress, they also guide you in creating a strong center that’s resistant to being pushed around by other people’s opinions. Massage and/or Reiki also help prepare your mind/body for a healthy pregnancy and a safe birth.
Special Allies for Pregnant Women over Forty
The single most important herb for pregnant women over forty is comfrey (Symphytum uplandica hybrids). The leaves of the mature plant contain an abundance of constituents beneficial to mother and babe, including generous amounts of minerals, alantoin, proteins, and many vitamins. The minerals in comfrey help ensure healthy nervous system growth; the fetus’s developing brain uses the proteins. And the alantoin helps the mother’s tissues become stretchy and elastic.
Aging can lead to increased stiffness and brittleness in bones and muscles, making pregnancy more arduous and painful, labor slower and more difficult, and injury more likely during birth. The hormones of pregnancy, which help soften and relax the pelvic tissues, may not be produced in adequate amounts. Comfrey comes to the rescue! Comfrey creates flexible and strong tissues throughout the body especially mucus surfaces (including intestines, uterus, bladder and vagina), the bones, the ligaments and tendons, and the skin.
Regular use of the leaf infusion, at least a quart a week, promotes a safe delivery by:
- strengthening uterine muscles and preparing them to work easily and well
- strengthening perineal tissues so they become resistant to tearing
- strengthening uterine ligaments so the uterus does not prolapse
- strengthening the bladder and increasing resistance to bacterial infection
- strengthening the vagina and helping to promote an environment hostile to infection
- providing easily assimilated minerals to prevent eclampsia and other complications
- helping the bones of the pelvis flex and open during birth
- increasing iron in the blood and thus forestalling post-partum hemorrhage.
I harvest the flowering stalks when they are fully formed; and I am careful to use the cultivated garden comfrey, which grows very tall and has purplish, pinkish, bluish flowers. I avoid wild comfrey, which stays rather small even when flowering, and has cream-colored, white, or yellowish flowers.
Some people feel that comfrey is not safe to use during pregnancy. Some people feel comfrey is not safe to use internally at all. I disagree. The roots of comfrey do contain compounds that are best avoided during pregnancy (as do all parts of the wild plant). In fact, I rarely use comfrey root because of the possibility of liver congestion, and I strongly caution those who have had hepatitis, chemotherapy, or alcohol problems to strictly avoid comfrey root. Yet even these people can benefit from use of comfrey leaf infusions.
Another important herbal ally for women over forty who desire a child is chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castii). It has been used in Africa and parts of Europe for several thousand years to discourage the male libido. In women, the effects seem to be the opposite! It may also be a fertility enhancer. Most importantly, chaste tree is a strengthening tonic for the pituitary gland, the master control gland for the endocrine system. Daily use of the tincture of the berries (1 dropperful/1 ml 2-3 times daily) had been shown to increase progesterone – the hormone of pregnancy – and luteinizing hormone – which promotes conception. Because it can lower prolactin levels, chaste tree is best discontinued during the last trimester of pregnancy.
Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is not recommended for women over forty. In general, this herb promotes blood flow to the uterus and surrounding tissues. This can promote the growth of fibroids and increase the risk of post-partum hemorrhage. Ginger is a better warming tonic; motherwort is better at relieving pain; and raspberry is better at preparing the uterus for birth.
Vibrant, passionate, and involved, Susun Weed has garnered an international reputation for her groundbreaking lectures, teachings, and writings on health and nutrition. She challenges conventional medical approaches with humor, insight, and her vast encyclopedic knowledge of herbal medicine. Unabashedly pro-woman, her animated and enthusiastic lectures are engaging and often profoundly provocative.
Susun is one of America’s best-known authorities on herbal medicine and natural approaches to women’s health. Her four best-selling books are recommended by expert herbalists and well-known physicians and are used and cherished by millions of women around the world. Learn more at www.susunweed.com
Excerpt - Chapter 3
The First Trimester
In many ways we are now standing at the entrance to the temple. Here is where we fully engage the first step toward sacred union. Even though this chapter is devoted to sexuality, this is not the sacred union process; until we reach the end of this book we are still walking the path of full preparation to enter such an initiation.
In this first step the sexual act becomes a process of igniting the energetic pathways of the seven gates, leading toward the grand opening of the womb–the cosmic keeper of the grail. Because it is a gateway to profound realms and dimensions, the womb births new codes of evolution and progressive patterns of development into the human collective consciousness. In my opinion the womb births states of consciousness that actually shift the collective field. Therefore it is through women that the more elevated and conscious developments of our species shall be birthed. A man will be able to foresee the intelligence needed for our progression, but until he is in sacred union with a woman, his rate of progression will never know the speed and grace that is possible when they are together. The feminine principle is designed to ground us and bring forth the embodied Earth. When a woman consciously attends to this process, the results are awe inspiring.
When two people come together consciously, after the process of healing and igniting the seven gates as well as authentically transforming all gender wounds, then they can truly meet in sexual union, exactly as we once did in the metaphorical Garden of Eden. The threefold flame (power, love, wisdom) is the map of how to return to the living Garden of Eden, which has not gone anywhere, despite the eons we have been lost in separation since the Fall. Despite the tremendous ramifications of not embracing the feminine principle for so long, the garden still patiently awaits us. Deep inside we all feel an intensely lonely longing to return home, and we can by applying the healing balm of love to our shared wounds and loss.
If we fell together from the Garden of Eden, then surely it is together that we shall return. As we ate from the apple of wisdom (Sophia) we were granted the experience to know what the gods and goddesses know–that the nature of existence is both light and dark. In my opinion this is the same path that Sophia took, hence the apple being a symbol for wisdom. Sophia, the incarnate God the Mother, descended to Earth to save each and every one of her children, all human souls, from any further suffering and ignorance. However, during her descent she became disconnected and blinded to her true magnificence and lost her way back home.
Like us, she temporarily forgot who she was.
In the gnostic story of Sophia we are told that God the Father sent forth the Logos, the beloved aspect of himself, to find Sophia and to reunite with her in sacred union so that they could both return home and the heavens could be filled with the presence of the Holy Sophia once again.
In my understanding of “As Above, So Below” this story clearly shows us the way back home–be it Eden, paradise, or nirvana. The way is sacred union.
Bio: Anaiya Sophia is a qualified Kundalini yoga teacher and initiated priestess of the Rose Line, part of the Grail Lineage. She facilitates workshops throughout the world on all aspects of Sacred Union, Divine Marriage, and Womb Wisdom. The author of Sacred Sexual Union and Open Your Heart with Kundalini Yoga and coauthor of Womb Wisdom, she lives and works in The New Renaissance, a creative and mystical arts space that she runs with her beloved in Chalabre in southern France.
Sacred Sexual Union by Anaiya Sophia © 2013 Destiny Books. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.innertraditions.com
Five Point Touch Therapy
Acupressure for the Emotional Body
by Pierre-Noël Delatte, M.D.
Does emotion rule you or do you rule your emotions? With five point touch therapy, you can quickly counter negative emotional states as they arise, leaving you better able to cope with a crisis, as well as treat long-term issues such as depression and anxiety. More than just a self-help method, this technique, also called psycho-bio-acupressure (PBA), is also effective for children and babies, particularly for sleep problems and colic. Stimulating the PBA circuits rebalances our energy, allowing for self-treatment of a variety of emotional issues.
Based on Dr. Delatte’s 20 years of research and decades of hands-on practice, PBA works by sequential activation of 5 acupressure points to produce an energetic circuit in the body. This circuit can provide immediate relief from acute negative emotions and, when applied regularly, prevent future emotional overreactions and treat deep-seated destructive emotional states. The book includes 22 five-point sequences for specific emotional issues, such as panic attacks or suppressed anger, and for removing the emotional blocks and scars at the root of many common physical ailments, such as eczema, asthma, and weight gain. Dr. Delatte explains how to combine the 22 sequences to treat more than 70 additional emotional and physical ailments as well as how to use this technique with homeopathy and Bach Flower Therapy for more stubborn conditions. Providing a daily routine of self-treatment to combat stress and balance your energetic centers, this book allows you to take control of your emotions as well as protect and enhance your health.
Pierre-Noël Delatte, M.D., graduated from the University of Medicine in Bordeaux as the youngest doctor of medicine in France at the age of 22. He created psycho-bio-acupressure after 20 years of research. Dr. Delatte passed away August 5, 2012, but his work is continued by the excellent team that he formed at the Delatte Institute of Psycho-Bio-Acupressure, which offers classes around the world.
Five Point Touch Therapy by Pierre-Noël Delatte, M.D. © 2013 Healing Arts Press. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.innertraditions.com