Wise Woman Ways Offer a Helping Hand
an article by Susun S. Weed
time is depression time for many women. Perhaps
it is harder to look at the bright side when days
are short, perhaps the holidays and family demands
take their toll on us. Of course, depression can
also be triggered by lack of thyroid hormone and
by use of steroids, high blood pressure drugs, and
But most often the cause of depression is the belief
(valid or not) that nothing you do makes any difference.
Victimization and poverty lock women into depression.
More than one-third of all American women have been
victims of sexual or physical abuse; and women make
up more than two-thirds of all Americans who live
below poverty level. Yet our culture frowns on women
who express their anger. No wonder depression is
a woman's issue.
"Look here," Grandmother Growth motions
to you as she spreads her story blanket at your
feet. "See how depression is deeply woven with
anger and grief. When our need for reliable, joyous
intimacy is frustrated, and expression of our frustration
would endanger us, depression comes and protects
us. When there is no way to deal effectively with
situations that enrage us, depression comes and
helps us quiet our violent impulses.
"Depression is not an easy companion on your
journey, but she knows much about life. In her bundle,
she carries the anger you have carefully frozen
with frigid blasts of fear and kept nourished with
your pain. She carries your wholeness. She carries
your ability to go beyond the pain, your ability
to allow your rage to move you into health. She
carries your wholeness. Will you let her teach you?"
Wise Woman remedies don't seek to eliminate our
feelings, or turn "negative" ones into
"positive" ones, but to help us incorporate
all of our feelings into our wholeness/health/holiness.
Welcome the dark. Cherish the deepness. Give
yourself over to a day or two of doing nothing.
Then, get up, no matter how bad you feel. Set a
goal for the day and meet it. Smile - it releases
brain chemicals that make you feel good. Smile no
matter what. Do it as an exercise. Hate it while
you do it. But SMILE!
Homeopathic remedies include Arum metallicum,
for women with frequent thoughts of suicide who
feel cut off from love and joy; and Sepia, for women
who are disinterested in everything, angry at family
and friends, and just want to be left alone.
It's more than idle chatter that depression
comes with gray skies and happiness with sunny ones.
For emotional health (and strong bones) get 15 minutes
of sunlight on your uncovered eyelids (outside,
no glasses, no contacts) daily. If you can't get
out (or if the sun doesn't cooperate), wake up 1-2
hours earlier than usual. (You can stay in bed,
but keep those eyes open.)
Sing the blues; dance ëem too. Women
have depended on songs and dances to carry them
out of depression for centuries. Dance therapy is
more effective than talk therapy for reaching and
healing traumatic experiences. Even a single session
may have a dramatic effect.
Find your rage and write it down. Get a massage
and let the anger move out of the muscles. Volunteer
to help change something you are upset about, even
a small thing.
St. Joan's/John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
lives in very sunny locations and blooms at summer
solstice. I call it bottled sunshine. A dropperful
of the bright red tincture taken 1-3 times daily
has helped many women relieve SAD (seasonal affective
disorder), move through grief, ease the physical
pain of depression, and walk on the sunny side!
CAUTION: Hypericum in capsules is not as effective
and can cause unwanted side effects.
Oatstraw infusion (not tea, tincture, or
capsules) has been an ally for depressed women since
earliest times. Gentle Avena nourishes the nerves
and helps you remember why life is worth living.
To make an infusion: Brew one ounce by weight of
dried herb (that's a cup by volume) in a quart jar
filled to the top with boiling water. Steep for
at least four hours, then strain and refrigerate
your infusion. Drink as many cups a day as you wish.
Or make an oatstraw bath by adding two quarts of
infusion to your bath water.
Garden sage (Salvia) is an ancient ally for
emotionally-distressed women. In some societies,
only crones were allowed to drink the brew made
from the nubbly leaves (at least partly because
it delays menses and dries up breast milk). Make
an infusion (see oatstraw); drink by mixing a few
spoonfuls of the dense brew into hot water or warm
milk; add honey to taste. The undiluted infusion
keeps for weeks refrigerated.
Behavioral and interpersonal therapies are
as effective as drugs in relieving depression. Not
only that, two-thirds of those who simply read about
therapy improve significantly.
Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise, especially
soon after awakening, has been shown to help women
whose depression is resistant to all treatments,
Sleep less. If you are a woman who overproduces
a normal depression-causing substance which accompanies
sleep you will feel depressed and often find it
difficult to wake up. Sleeping more will only compound
the problem. Instead, stay up all night once a week.
If you can't cope with no sleep, even mild sleep
deprivation (such as sleeping five hours or less
for two nights in a row) dramatically decreases
depressive symptoms in some people.
Low levels of calcium, zinc, and B vitamins
are associated with depression. Get more by eating
more cheese and yogurt, more garlic and mushrooms,
more whole grains and beans.
Lack of vitamin B12 doubles the risk of severe
depression for older women. This critical nutrient,
found only in animal products, is destroyed by tofu
and soy beverage. Drink real milk, eat real cheese,
eat meat at least occasionally and watch your mood
1600 mg of SAM-e (A-adenosylmethionine) relieved
the symptoms of moderate depression as well as imipramine,
but no better than Hypericum (St. J's wort). CAUTION:
Of the brands tested by Consumer Reports, only Natrol,
Nature Made, TwinLab, and GNC passed all tests.
Avoid hormone replacement - ERT/HRT - if
you're depressed; it's strongly associated with
an increase in suicide attempts.
Women who used to take lithium say they have
gradually switched over to skullcap (Scutellaria
lateriflora). A dose of infusion is one cup/250
ml or more per day; of fresh plant tincture is 5-8
drops twice a day; of the dried plant tincture is
a dropperful/1 ml several times a day. CAUTION:
Skullcap can make you sleepy.
For women whose depression resists all other
therapies, electro-convulsive treatments (ECT),
previously known as shock treatments, have been
updated with special care taken to minimize harm.
The women I spoke with who were using ECT told me
it was incredibly effective, and the side-effects,
including severe memory loss, acceptable to them.
From doing nothing, to ECT, the range of remedies
available to depressed women is enormous. To help
you choose wisely, these effective, simple Wise
Woman remedies are in order of safety: the safest
remedies first, and the most dangerous ones last.
PO Box 64
Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
For permission to reprint this article, contact
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
article is © copyright Susun
S. Weed 2006 - Republished here with kind permission.
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made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose,
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