an article by Susun S. Weed
woman," Grandmother Growth's voice seems to float
in the deepening twilight, echoing, reverberating,
ringing in your ears. "Bring me your soreness. Bring
me your pain. Bring your aches to me. Bring your
burdens. Bring all you can no longer stand, can
no longer bear, can no longer carry, can no longer
shoulder, can no longer be responsible for. Give
it to me. Put it down. Let us sit in council together
and listen to the stories your pain tells. Menopause
is a journey which requires you to pack light. Heavy
things - bitterness, regret, vengeance, clinging
to pain - will make your travels wearisome and bring
you down. Take only the stories. Leave the rest
behind. Burn the soreness in your hot flashes. Let
it leave you. This is the Change. Let it change
you, dear woman; let it change you."
Step 0: Do Nothing
Women dealing with fibromyalgia have less pain if
they sleep in a completely dark room. If that's
impossible, wear a sleep mask.
Step 1: Collect Information
The chronic pain disorder I called "sore all over"
when I wrote this section ten years ago is now big
news. Ninety percent of the 4 million Americans
dealing with this debilitating, frustrating condition
- known as fibromyalgia - are white women, and many
of them are menopausal.
Neither cause nor cure for fibromyalgia is known.
It is not a disease but a range of symptoms characterized
by chronic, widespread pain on both sides of the
body, above and below the waist. (As one of my apprentices
put it: "But I don't hurt in all those places at
once. The pain moves around. I never know where
it will be next.") Some women have a low fever in
addition to pain. More than half of those with fibromyalgia
also suffer from headaches, endometriosis, and/or
irritable bowel syndrome.
The symptoms of fibromyalgia are quite variable,
making diagnosis difficult. (Orthodox diagnosis
is predicated on finding soreness at specific trigger
points.) Fibromyalgia mimics aspects of multiple
sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, hepatitis
C, hypothyroidism, lupus, polymyalgia rheumatica,
and early dementia. Many women with fibromyalgia
are told their distress is "all in your mind."
It isn't in your mind (alone). Menopause can leave
you feeling like you've been beaten on. Muscles
respond to hormonal changes by feeling sore and
cranky. Sleep loss can make you ache. (Non-restorative
sleep is a hallmark of fibromyalgia.) Lack of calcium
(and other minerals) can make your bones ache. Whether
you are dealing with these challenges, or the greater
problem of fibromyalgia, why not give Wise Woman
Ways a try? The remedies listed here have been remarkably
successful in helping many women.
with fibromyalgia aren't just sensitive to pain;
they also find loud noises, strong odors, and bright
lights aversive." - Daniel Clauw, MD, Director:
Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center, Georgetown
Step 2: Engage the Energy
. Having a support group is one of the strongest
factors in keeping fibromyalgia under control.
. Homeopathic Arnica is an amazing remedy for sore
and aching muscles. Daily use of homeopathic Rhus
toxicodendron reduced pain by 25 percent in those
. Make a list of things you are sore (upset, angry)
about. Where do these things live in your body?
With the help of an experienced bodyworker, loosen
those places. Women with fibromyalgia are very likely
to be survivors of trauma (sexual or domestic violence,
. Go back to your Mother. Float in the ocean. Lie
belly down on the earth. Naked. Let her ease you.
Let her heal you.
. Listen to a relaxation tape. Have someone show
you how to do the yoga position called the "Corpse
Pose". Learn how to bring yourself to a deep state
of inner quiet and peaceful mind.
. Hypnotherapy can help you gain some degree of
mental control over their symptoms. Cognitive behavior
therapy is also helpful.
Step 3: Nourish and Tonify
. Consistent use of nourishing herbal infusions,
especially comfrey leaf and stinging nettle, in
place of coffee, tea, and sodas is the single most
effective thing I know for mitigating and overcoming
. Gentle exercise - walks, yoga or tai chi practices
- keeps muscles from weakening and becoming more
painful. Experts suggest starting with as little
as three minutes a day, and gradually building to
at least four sessions of five minutes each per
day. Persist; the reward is worth it.
. Regular consumption of yogurt also proves very
helpful for those with fibromyalgia. Perhaps it
is due to yogurt's ability to strengthen and nourish
immunity; some suspect fibromyalgia is a result
of immune system malfunction.
. Magnesium is a critical nutrient for preventing
pain in muscles and connective tissues. Legumes,
whole grains, leafy greens and nourishing herbal
infusions - like nettle and oatstraw - are the best
. Moxibustion is also known as needleless acupuncture.
Safe and easy to do at home by yourself, moxibustion
gives fast relief from sore joints and aching muscles.
It not only relieves pain but tonifies, decreasing
future pain and gradually effecting a "cure." You
can buy a moxa "cigar" at an Oriental pharmacy or
health food store. Bring the glowing end of the
moxa (after lighting it) near the painful area and
move it around in small slow spirals until the heat
becomes too intense. (This may take a few minutes
or many.) Pain relief is usually immediate and often
lasts for twelve or more hours.
Step 4: Stimulate/Sedate
. Tinctures of willow bark or spirea (1-2 dropperfuls/1-2
ml is a dose) are highly recommended as important
green allies by women dealing with fibromyalgia.
. St. Joan's wort tincture - not capsules, not the
tea - is a powerful ally for women with fibromyalgia.
It is one of the best muscle relaxants I have ever
used. A 25-30 drop dose not only stops but also
prevents muscle aches. I have used it as frequently
as every twenty minutes (for ten doses) when the
occasion has necessitated it. St. Joan's wort prevents
soreness when taken after exercise; and even better
if taken before. I take a dose every hour while
on an airplane to prevent muscle aches and jetlag.
. Regular massage from an experienced therapist
stimulates the circulation of blood and energy,
relieves pain, reduces fatigue, and eases stiffness.
Avoid deep tissue massage; it increases pain. Light
strokes and gentle myofascial releases are more
helpful. Chiropractic manipulations are of little
. Massage with heated stones and other heat treatments
works wonders for some women. For others, cold treatments
work better (but not too cold, and not for too long
. Ginger compresses, hot or cold, stir up circulation
and mobilize the body's own healing agents to take
action and ease your pain. I grate several ounces
of fresh ginger into simmering water, cook it gently
for ten minutes, then soak a cloth in the liquid
and use that as an application to the sore area.
. The National Institute of Health lists fibromyalgia
as one of the few conditions that acupuncture can
. If lying down sleep makes the pain worse, slip
into something relaxing: valerian, skullcap, or
St. Joan's wort tinctures, up to a dropperful/1
ml of any one, repeated twice if needed.
Step 5a: Use Supplements
. A study found little benefit from those with fibromyalgia
taking either SAM-e or 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan
- a precursor to serotonin). Do not use 5-HTP if
you are taking St. Joan's/John's wort.
. Lack of sleep can quickly aggravate symptoms of
fibromyalgia. (See Step 0.) If sleep confounds you,
melatonin at bedtime, the lowest dose you can get,
Step 5b: Use Drugs
. Essential oil of lavender was recommended by several
women who have dealt with fibromyalgia for many
years. Dilute with jojoba or olive oil and use as
. Orthodox treatment of fibromyalgia relies heavily
on drugs, primarily antispasmodics, antidepressants
and muscle-relaxants. But Celebrex, Vioxx, Valteran,
amitriptyline (Elavil), fluoxetine (Prozac), vanlafaxine
(Effecor), trazadone (Desyrel), alprazolam (Xanax),
and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) can adversely affect
the liver and disrupt the immune system.
. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as
ibuprofen do not reduce fibromyalgia pain for most
. Tramadol (Ultram) is a drug which addresses both
the altered brain chemicals and the pain signals
of those with fibromyalgia.
Step 6: Break and Enter
. Beware invasive diagnostic tests. Many women report
enduring endless rounds of tests trying to put a
name to their pains with no success and at the price
of physical, mental, and emotional distress.
. Injections of lidocaine, a drug that temporarily
numbs nerves, are effective in relieving fibromyalgia
pain for some women. Injections of capsaicin (from
cayenne) relieve pain by destroying nerve endings.
Disclaimer: This content is not intended
to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions
made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose,
treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or
symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided
by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare
practitioner with a specific formula for you. All
material on this website/email is provided for general
information purposes only and should not be considered
medical advice or consultation. Contact a reputable
healthcare practitioner if you are in need of medical
care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second
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Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
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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 - Republished here with kind permission.