The Sage Age
Have you ever wondered just how herbalists in the past found out that certain herbs had certain effects? How random were their choices and what guided them to the herbs they used? One influencing factor was the ‘Doctrine of Signatures’, by which the look or habits of a plant were thought to indicate its likely action. In this way Sage, the pretty purple leaves of which sweat in the sun, was seen to be a sweat-regulator. Sage has been used for this purpose for centuries but, in the search for a more scientific understanding of its mechanisms, clinical research is now being undertaken on Sage. The pilot study looks interesting and indicates positive results.
Many women have cause to be grateful to those who originally spotted Sage’s potential as a sweat regulator. The most common symptoms of the menopause are hot flushes and night sweats, episodes that can ruin sleep and severely undermine a woman’s confidence at work and in social situations. Sage is often able to resolve these debilitating drenchings, and does so without causing side effects or interrupting the process of the menopause by interfering with hormone levels.
There are many factors that may contribute to excessive sweating during the menopause: it is by no means a cut and dried subject…
There are a number of neurotransmitters (substances that help nerve pathways to function correctly) that can cause blood vessels to dilate if released in large amounts. This can be seen in the ‘sweaty palm’ syndrome that affects us when we are nervous. These neurotransmitters may also be released in inappropriate amounts when hormone levels are swinging rather wildly during the menopause. Sage may block the release of these blood vessel dilating substances, thus reducing the sudden tide of skin reddening and heat.
The intake of caffeine-containing foods, such as coffee, causes surges of adrenalin, which have an unfortunate effect on temperature controls. Many women notice that a cup of coffee will swiftly be followed by a flush.
Those who are prone to allergic reactions and regularly experience prickly heat may find that they are more prone to the flushes than their less reactive peers. It may not just be items such as coffee that get you hot and sweaty. Herbs such as the humble stinging nettle can reduce allergic responses. Nettle can be taken regularly as a tea or tincture to minimise the effects of allergens.
As the number of periods starts to decrease, fewer toxins can be removed with the menstrual blood and more are therefore flushed out through the skin. Putting fewer toxins into the body at this point in your life will reduce the amount that needs to escape via the skin. Cleaning up your act is, of course, a sensible thing to do at any time in your life! The impetus to do so, though, is much greater when it could help prevent you having to change your nightclothes every few hours…
The menopause gets a rather rough press, as in our society we don’t value age and experience as they do in less Westernised cultures. However, it is not inevitably a time of doom and general crumbling. If you pay no attention to the needs of your body throughout your early life, the consequences will inevitably catch up with you. This, however, has little to do with hormone levels. There are many things that you can do, out of respect for your health, that will enable you to sail into the next phase of your life with your head held high!
- Reduce the amount of animal fats and proteins in your diet. Less red meat and fewer dairy products will reduce the strain on your liver and metabolism. Many people find this improves their skin and helps them shed a few pounds.
- Increase the amount of fish you eat. Salmon, mackerel and herring are good choices. Not only do they help keep your heart healthy, they also reduce some menopausal symptoms.
- Eat as wide a variety of foods as possible. Go out and experiment! The wider the range of foods you take in, the better the chance that you will get all the nutrients you need. Try vegetables and fruits outside your usual range – there are plenty in the supermarkets these days. Use different pulses and beans in your salads – they are available in convenient tins, even in organic varieties. Fifteen different types of chocolate don’t count, by the way!
- Reduce your stress levels. This takes pressure off your adrenal glands, which can then supply you with alternative forms of oestrogen. Tense, pressurised bodies, constantly jumping at shadows, will not produce sane, happy people at any time of life. Gentle exercise will ward off depression and heart disease, strengthen bones and increase energy levels. Just walking briskly round the block several times a week is a good start.
- Alcohol and tobacco are two of the greatest culprits in the development of osteoporosis, as well as harming your liver and ruining your complexion. You know this! Don’t blame your hormones for the results of your lifestyle choices.
- Women in Eastern cultures experience few problems with the menopause. Their regular consumption of soya products, containing phyto-oestrogens, has been credited for this, leading Western women to embrace soya in their menopausal years. Bombarding your body with large amounts of soya all of a sudden will not ward off the consequences of a bad diet. Use soya in small quantities, as they do in the East, as part of a diet full of fresh vegetables and grains.