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Honour the deep feminine wisdom, the power and the life-force of that incredibly beautiful body of yours.

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Know The Real Aphrodisiacs

Know The Real Aphrodisiacs

These days we treat aphrodisiacs as folk fantasy. Don’t be deceived. The biochemistry of certain plants like ginseng, dang quai, fennel and wild yam, as well as certain essential oils, are known to bring powerful sexual regeneration to the body and to intensify libido. It is your own individual response to specific herbs that is the key to aphrodisiacs. Loss of libido or impotence can have many different causes. So when turning to herbs for help in the sexual arena, you may need to experiment a bit to find which plants work best for you. But watch out. It is not only easy to create an experience of intense desire; it can be just as easy for a woman to end up fertilized by the results of it. Wings Of Desire Sexual impotence or a loss of ability to maintain a full erection affects most men at some time in their lives. It can be a result of feeling unwelcome, afraid of one’s own power, or experiencing a sense of inadequacy or depression in your life. Such things reflect themselves in the behavior of the body. With real awareness of how each partner feels and with patience and consideration, psychologically-caused impotence will often clear by itself. But many difficulties with maintaining erection are biochemical in nature. In men over the age of 35, it can happen during periods of prolonged stress, after illness, or simply as a result of having lived for too long on convenience foods, so that your body has become depleted in essential minerals, trace elements and vitamins—so that some of its metabolic processes no longer work properly. The first step is to detoxify your body by doing an herbal cleanse. Then change the way you live. Eliminate processed foods. Eat lots of fresh vegetables and clean sources of protein such as fish, organic meats and poultry as well as eggs, or only organic tofu made from soya beans that have not been genetically engineered. It is important, too, to throw out margarine and all highly processed oils. Replace them with extra virgin olive oil, organic coconut oil and good old butter from grass-fed cows. Include a teaspoon of top quality omega 3 fish oil each day. This is important. For, if you do not have a good supply of these essential fatty acids, you will not produce the hormones necessary for sexual potency. Male Potency There are a several useful plants for enhancing sexual energy and intensifying erection: Ginkgo biloba not only boosts the flow of blood to the brain and enhances memory; it can also increase circulation to the penis, potentizing iffy erections. The best way to take it for this purpose is in the form of a concentrated 24% standardized extract capsule, once or twice a day. Do not take more, since in large quantities, gingko can cause loose bowels, nervousness and irritability. One research project gave men 80 milligrams of such an extract three times a day, and got good results. It not only cleared impotence, it also lifted the depression which often accompanies it. You can also use a ginkgo tincture: 1 teaspoon in a little water twice a day. Fava beans—Vicia faba—can have an astounding effect on erection. The first written record of this food having sexual connotations came from ancient Rome, where Cicero used it to heighten his own passion. Fava is the best natural source of L-dopa. This chemical (which is also used to treat Parkinson’s disease) intensifies erections in some men. That is how fava got its reputation as an aphrodisiac. One way to use fava is to make soup from them. Siberian ginseng—Eleuthrococcus senticosus—is a natural MAO inhibitor. It helps lift depression and improves libido in both men and women. It also helps overcome long-term fatigue. You can take it as an extract daily. Its effects build slowly over weeks and months. This adaptogen is an excellent restorative for the whole body. Women In Love When libido flags in women there are many herbs that can help revive it. Wild Yam—Dioscorea villosa—restores libido so successfully in most women that I would not advise you to use it unless you have a sexual partner. You can take the tincture—½ -1 teaspoon in water twice a day—or as a dried herb in capsules, 4-6 capsules a day. I have known women to take 10 capsules a day, but less than this works very well for most. American Ginseng—Panax ginseng—is as good a raiser of libido in women as it is in men, despite the assumption that it is a male plant. It is particularly useful in post-menopausal women. Drink it as a tea three or four times a day. Fennel—Foeniculum vulgare—is replete with plant steroids. In animal experiments it raises the libido of both males and females. You can take it as a tea. Bruise a teaspoon of fennel seeds and pour 2 cups of boiling water over them. Steep for 5 minutes, strain and drink. Caution: Do not use fennel oil on your body when you are pregnant, as it can cause miscarriage. Other simple herbs which you can add to your foods that have a reputation for enhancing libido are parsley, fenugreek—great to sprout and eat in salads—ginger, and anis (Pimpinella anisum). Even coca from which chocolate is made carries mild aphrodisiac power. Essential oils help with libido on the night. Massage your body and that of your partner with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil or apricot oil to which you have added one of the aphrodisiac essences: clary sage, ylang ylang, rose, or jasmine. This is for external use only. Powerful stuff—you need only 1 drop of an essential oil to each teaspoon of carrier oil. A capsule of vitamin E squeezed into the oil when you mix it helps keep it fresh longer. Here are some products you might find useful: Carlson Labs, The Very Finest Fish Oil, Lemon The finest of fish oils from deep, cold ocean-water fish. Bottled in Norway it has a refreshing natural lemon taste. Take by the teaspoonful, mix with foods, even try it on salads. This product is regularly tested (using AOAC international protocols) for freshness, potency and purity by an independent, FDA registered laboratory and has shown itself to be fresh, fully-potent and free of detrimental levels of mercury, cadmium, lead, PCB's and 28 other contaminants. Buy Carlson Labs, The Very Finest Fish Oil, Lemon Now Foods, Ginkgo Biloba NOW Ginkgo Biloba is grown and extracted under the highest quality standards and is standardized to min. 24% Ginkgoflavonglycosides and min. 6% Terpene Lactones, including Ginkgolide B, the most significant fraction, and Ginkgolides A, C and Bilobalide. Order Now Foods, Ginkgo Biloba from iherb Now Foods, Ginkgo Biloba Extract Supports Cognitive Function 24% Standardized Extract With Gotu Kola and Eleuthero GMP Quality Assured A Dietary Supplement Vegetarian Formula Order Now Foods, Ginkgo Biloba Extract from iherb Bob's Red Mill, Fava Beans For over 5,000 years, Fava Beans have been enjoyed as a delicious source of protein, fiber and iron. Similar in taste and texture to lima beans, they are one of the most flavorful and meaty beans around. Bob's Red Mill Fava Beans have been naturally blanched to remove the unsavory skins. They're excellent for soups, dips, and a wide variety of other dishes. Order Bob's Red Mill, Fava Beans from iherb Dragon Herbs, Siberian Ginseng, Super Potency Extract This is a potent formula, made from the finest Chinese herbs, to enhance your adaptability and daily Qi. Order Dragon Herbs, Siberian Ginseng Extract from iherb Herb Pharm, Wild Yam To assure optimal extraction of Wild Yam's bioactive compounds, the rhizomes are hand-harvested only in late autumn, are carefully shade-dried and are then thoroughly extracted. Our Wild Yam is never fumigated or irradiated. Order Herb Pharm, Wild Yam from iherb Nature's Way, Wild Yam, Root Capsules Health & longevity through the healing power of nature—that's what it means to Trust the Leaf. Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa) was historically offered as "colic root" and used in herbal remedies for gastrointestinal irritations. In recent years it has become popular for women's health. Our Wild Yam is carefully grown, tested and produced to certified quality standards. Order Nature's Way, Wild Yam, Root Capsules from iherb Triple Leaf Tea, American Ginseng, Caffeine-Free American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) has long been a popular herb. Modern research confirms both American and Asian ginsengs contain ginsenosides and supports their long history of use. American ginseng is considered less yang than Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). For this reason, Chinese herbalists valued American ginseng for regular long-term use. Native Americans in North America first used this herb in similar ways to Chinese herbalists. In the 18th century, it became popular in America, and began being exported to China. Today, a large amount of the American ginseng grown in North America is exported to a large amount of the American ginseng is exported to Asia. 100% pure American ginseng root sets this tea apart from other ginseng tea blends, creating a delicious tea with the maximum amount of this marvelous root. Order Triple Leaf Tea, American Ginseng, Caffeine-Free from iherb Frontier Natural Products, Organic Whole Fennel Seed A graceful plant, fennel is an aromatic, hardy, perennial with golden yellow flowers and feathery leaves. Also known as garden fennel, this plant's botanical name, Foeniculum vulgare, comes from the Latin for "fragrant hay", it is a member of the Apiaceae family--along with anise, caraway, coriander and dill. Fennel seeds are small, oval, and grooved. They resemble caraway seed (though less curved) and smell and have a lemony anise taste. Fennel was well known as a food, flavoring and medicine in ancient China, Greece, India and Egypt. Since Roman times it has been used as a diet aid and to overcome hunger during fasts. In fact, its early Greek name, marathron, comes from maraino, which meant "to grow thin." The Roman emperor Charlemagne popularized the use of fennel seed in Central Europe, and the ancient Saxons included the seed in their list of nine sacred herbs used to combat the nine causes of disease. Order Frontier Natural Products, Organic Whole Fennel Seed from iherb ORDERING FROM IHERB.COM: If you decide to order any products from Iherb.com, you will automatically receive $5 or $10 off your first order. Their products are the cheapest and best in the world…I use them for everything no matter where I am. Get it sent to you via DHL. It will be with you in three to four working days… iHerb.com ship all over the world very cheaply.

Moon & Ovarian Cycle Rites

Moon & Ovarian Cycle Rites

Quite literally, the menses is the period of waxing and waning between one new moon and the next. Once menstruation begins at puberty, which is a woman's first rite of passage, the ebbs and flows which her body goes through each month are the stuff of which the second movement in her life's hormonal symphony is made. This part of her life has one major goal - childbearing. Its success depends greatly upon the two major steroids - the oestrogens and progesterone - working in close communication with her body's major control centers, the pituitary and hypothalamus. Only since the late nineteenth century have women's menstrual cycles - the menses - been investigated scientifically. The name menses also comes from a Greek word - meaning `month'. It in turn is derived from an even older word meaning `moon'. master controls A neural nuclei in the limbic brain, the hypothalamus, is the control center for homeostasis. It balances and oversees biochemical and energetic changes throughout the body. The limbic system in which it sits is the most primitive part of the brain. It is the part which deals with emotions and with our sense of smell, with our passions, and with all the unconscious interfaces that take place between mind and body. The actions of the limbic lie beneath the level of the thinking mind. This is one of the reasons that the hypothalamus is often referred to as the `seat of emotions'. When excited, the hypothalamus triggers desire - for food, for water, for adventure, for sex. Its actions can also be influenced by inhibitory thought patterns. In a woman frightened of becoming pregnant, for instance, the fear itself - via the hypothalamus - can dampen sexual desire or even disrupt menstrual cycles so she remains barren. The hypothalamus also responds to alterations in the electric and magnetic fields of the earth and of moon, and to other planetary events, as well as to electromagnetic pollution in our environment and the positive stimulus of energy medicine. It reacts to bodily changes that take place as a result of meditation, and its activities are influenced by spiritual practices - which is a major reason why women who meditate regularly tend to develop greater emotional balance, as well as why repeated experiences of joy or stillness can dramatically improve various female complaints such as PMS and hot flushes in both menstruating and menopausal women. sacred cycles There are three main branches of the female endocrine system involved in menstruation. The first is the master gland, the hypothalamus. It releases gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH). The second is the anterior pituitary, which releases follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) - both of which are secreted in response to GnRH from the hypothalamus. The third is made up of the oestrogens and progesterone which, during a woman's non-pregnant childbearing years, are secreted by the ovaries in response to FSH and LH. It is the symphony of interactions and feedback mechanisms between these three branches that bring about the blood ritual of menstruation. All of the hormones released during a menstrual cycle are secreted not in a constant, steady way, but at dramatically different rates during different parts of the 28 day period; a cycle which like everything else in a natural world involves birth, maturation, and death, only to lead to new birth again - in this case, of the egg a woman's body produces. Menstruation itself is simply the elimination of the thickened blood and blood filled endometrium in the womb - the lining developed in preparation for a possible pregnancy. For when a pregnancy does not occur, this lining is shed at monthly intervals under the control of oestrogen and progesterone with a little help from their friends GnRH, FSH, and LH. When ovaries are not stimulated by the gonadotrophic hormones from the pituitary, they remain asleep, as they were during childhood and as they become again after menopause. For the first 8 to 11 days of the menstrual cycle, a woman's ovaries make lots of oestrogen. Within the ovary itself are little things called follicles - partially developed eggs. One of these will be released each month in hopes of meeting up with the sperm and creating an embryo. It is oestrogen which prepares the bloody lining of the uterus and causes the follicle to develop in the ovary, bringing it to the surface of the ovary and preparing for the release of one of the eggs. The word oestrogen, like the hormones produced in a woman's body which belong to this family - oestrone, oestradiol, and oestriol - comes from oestrus, a Greek word meaning `frenzy', `heat', or `fertility'. It is oestrogen which proliferates the changes that take place at puberty - the growth of breasts, the development of a girl's reproductive system, the reshaping of a woman's body. It also alters your vaginal secretions, making them more viscous and less watery, and it causes your body's temperature to rise at the time of ovulation, by about one degree. Each girl baby is born with all the primary follicles she will ever need. At the time of puberty, a girl's ovaries contain about 300,000 of these follicles. And while each woman only produces one or two fully developed eggs each month, somewhere between 100 and 300 follicles have to start developing in order for one to become fully grown, so a woman can lose between 100 to 300 follicles a month. However, since she started with 300,000, she will have enough to last all her reproductive life. On day one of each monthly cycle - that is, the day of the onset of menstruation - first the production of FSH and then of LH increases. This increase in hormones from the anterior pituitary triggers a group of ovarian follicles each month, causing accelerated growth in the cells surrounding them. As cells around the eggs grow, they secrete a follicular fluid which contains a high concentration of the oestrogen oestradiol to bring about many other changes, developing the potential of one of the follicles so that it becomes capable of being fertilized by the male sperm. It is not the oestradiol alone secreted by the follicle which brings about the maturation of the egg, however. Luteinizing hormone (LH) from the anterior pituitary continues to be secreted to help the process along until after a week or more, when one of the follicles outgrows all of the rest. This is the one that will become the female egg ready for impregnation. The remainder of the follicles now begin to involute. LH becomes particularly important at this stage in order for the final follicular growth to be completed and ovulation itself to occur - that is, the release of the egg into the fallopian tubes for its journey down into the uterus. So the rate of secretion of LH by the anterior pituitary increases markedly, rising 6 or 10 times then peaking about 18 hours before ovulation - the release of the egg into the fallopian tubes for its journey down into the uterus. The production of FSH also increases at this time, and these two hormones act together to cause a swelling of the follicle during several days before ovulation. Finally ovulation takes place usually around the fourteenth day, in the middle of your cycle. enter progesterone LH also alters the cells around the egg follicle, so that now they secrete less oestradiol, but progressively rising amounts of progesterone. This means that the rate of oestrogen secretion begins to fall about day thirteen, one day before ovulation occurs. But as small amounts of progesterone begin to be secreted, very rapid growth of the follicle takes place. Beginning with this secretion of progesterone, ovulation occurs too, triggered yet again by the luteinizing hormone from the anterior pituitary. During the first few hours after the ovum has been expelled from the follicle, more and more rapid physical and chemical changes take place to the egg in a process called luteinization. At this stage - known as the luteal stage of a woman's cycle - the follicle becomes known as the corpus luteum, or yellow body. The cells around the egg begin to secrete larger quantities of progesterone, as the level of oestrogen decreases. Some of the cells around the egg become much enlarged. They develop inclusions of lipids or fats which give them their distinctive yellow color. From now on, development becomes rapid until seven or eight days after ovulation, when it peaks. As soon as a follicle releases an egg, the ovary switches over from pumping out oestrogen to primarily making progesterone. Progesterone is only synthesized when you ovulate. In fact, ovulation changes the whole ball game. No longer is there a need for further build up of the womb lining. The challenge now is to hold on to the secretory endometrium, and to render it capable of nurturing a fertilized egg long enough for it to grow into a baby. That is progesterone's task. The progesterone released with the egg has a negative effect on the other ovary. Its release tells the other ovary: "Hey, we've got an egg out now, so you don't have to worry about producing any." For even though women have two ovaries, they usually produce only one egg a month. The business of fraternal twins - that is, both ovaries releasing an egg at the same time - only happens once every three hundred months, which is why fraternal twins are so rare. The corpus luteum, which forms each month, is a tiny organ with a huge capacity for hormone production. It releases large quantities of progesterone, plus some oestrogen, which cause a feedback decrease in the secretion of FSH and LH by the anterior pituitary, so that no new follicles begin to grow. But as soon as the corpus luteum degenerates at the end of its 12 day life - which is about the 26th day of the female sexual cycle - this lack of feedback triggers the anterior pituitary gland to secrete several times as much FSH, followed a few days later by more LH as well. This in turn stimulates the growth of new follicles to begin the next ovarian cycle. And at the same time, a fall in progesterone and in oestrogen secretion trigger menstruation. peaks and falls From day 1 until about day 13 of a woman's menstrual cycle, the level of progesterone in her body is very, very low. Yet the point at which a follicle is released, it continues to rise dramatically until day 21 to 23, at which point it begins to fall down again to its lowest level, as menstruation begins around day 28. In addition to maintaining the endometrium and shifting down activity in the other ovary, the progesterone provided each month travels to other parts of a woman's body to fulfill other roles. It protects her from the side-effects of oestrogen for one thing, helping to protect her from getting breast cancer, from retaining water and salt, from high blood pressure, and from becoming depressed. Progesterone also brings surges of libido. You still hear a few so called experts say that oestrogen increases libido. But think about it. Which hormone would you rely on for sex-drive - oestrogen, which is present before the egg is made, or progesterone, which comes after the egg is released and is ready for fertilization? Libido increases with progesterone surges. When this rhythmic cycling of oestrogen and progesterone during each lunar month gets out of sync (and many things in modern life can cause this) then all sorts of things can go wrong - from infertility to PMS, depression, bloating, endometriosis and fibroids. For the oestrogens and progesterone, each have their characteristic roles to play, and for a woman to be healthy they must balance each other. the last and the first So do all the other steroids: This group of hormones to which cortisol, aldosterone, progesterone, DHEA, testosterone and the oestrogens belong, is intimately involved in how you feel both physically and emotionally, as well as how rapidly your body ages. Steroids have a characteristic molecular structure which resembles cholesterol, from which they are all ultimately derived. Cholesterol is the vital fatty substance that has had such a bad press in recent years, but which is absolutely essential to life. Out of each steroid hormone made from cholesterol, yet another - and following that another - can be made in a knock-on effect. For instance, pregnenolone is the steroid manufactured directly from cholesterol. It in turn becomes a precursor to progesterone, as well as to other hormones. Natural steroid hormones such as progesterone, made by biosynthesis in your own body, have this remarkable capability to act as precursors. In other words they are capable of being turned into other hormones further down the pathways as and when your body needs them. Progesterone is mother of many other hormones. It can eventually be turned not only into various oestrogens, but also into cortisol - the anti-inflammatory hormone - and into other steroids such as corticosterone or aldosterone, with equally important jobs to do. All of these conversions happen through slight alterations in the shape of a molecule, thanks to the actions of enzymes, each of which carries out a specific task. But these conversions can only take place if the molecules on which the enzyme is acting "fit" precisely - both electromagnetically and stereochemically - into its structure. All of these changes which take place through the magic of enzymes occur in the presence of vitamin and mineral cofactors such as magnesium, zinc, and B6, which catalyze each enzyme reaction. They are all carefully modulated by elaborate feedback mechanisms as well. The names and chemical transformations from one steroid to another are not important to remember. What is important is that you get some sense of just how complex hormone synthesis and interactions can be, and how important it is to have sufficient cofactors as well as `primary' hormones, such as pregnalone and progesterone, to be able to synthesize others. A rich hormonal symphony? Immeasurably. Yet all this still does not even begin to take into account the myriad pathways by which these steroid hormones interact with other hormones, or master central mechanisms within the hypothalamus and pituitary, or psychoneuroimmunological pathways by which hormones effect our emotions, and emotions our hormones. sabotage It is in coming face to face with the rich textures of such hormonal symphonies that the synthetic progestagen drugs can come a cropper. When you look at the structures of their molecules, in every case you find that although they resemble your body's homemade hormones, their shapes have been altered slightly by adding extra atoms here or there at unusual positions. It is this that has enabled them to qualify as patentable drugs. However, unlike the natural hormones - which they attempt to mimic, and which not only fulfill their own functions by binding with their own receptor sites but also act as precursors for a myriad of other hormones with other important jobs to do - the progestagens are end-product molecules. They are also completely foreign to the living body. Unlike nature's own steroids they can also not be augmented or diminished as necessary to maintain balance, and to keep the body's hormonal symphony flowing smoothly. They also cannot easily be eliminated when their levels get too high. Although the synthetics can still bind with the receptor sites of the hormones they are made to mimic, they don't fit as well as the homemade steroids do into the enzymes meant to act upon them. This means they are not under the watchful eye and control of these enzymes, nor of the body's self-regulating capacities. Drug-based oestrogens and progestagens in contraceptives and HRT cocktails can significantly disrupt a woman's normal hormonal cycles by introducing foreign elements into her body. They also virtually wipe out the moon cycles to which a woman's natural fertility and spiritual balance are inexorably bound from puberty onwards. So although in the short term they may temporarily do a job such as provide birth control or quell heavy bleeding in a menopausal woman, in the long run they only sabotage hormone balance, by turning harmony into dissonance - a dissonance capable not only of causing disruptions in a woman's health and physical body, but also of creating emotional and spiritual confusion in her life. This, sadly, is not something you will find described in the Merck index that warns doctors of a drug's side-effects, however. For the spiritual aspects of health and healing tend to be all but forgotten in the linear thinking that underlies most twentieth century medicine. In the mechanistic western world of drug-based treatments, where we are trained to take a pill for whatever ails us, this concept can be a little strange for some women to grasp. Especially if they are well educated, intelligent, and if they have been urged from puberty to rely on oral contraceptives - even told they are irresponsible if they don't. Or if they have been filled with fear that if they don't take HRT as menopause approaches their life is going to fall apart. friends and lovers Quite apart from their biochemical actions, rather like people, hormones have characters with highly individual personalities. To the biochemist, the `personalities' of the oestrogens and progesterone will always remain a mystery. He is interested in nothing beyond their molecular configurations. But many women come to know these personalities well - by allowing intuition and instinct to be their teachers. When progesterone is surging through the body, a woman can feel high. Provided her body is producing enough of this steroid, she is likely to feel great. Your senses are keen when progesterone is running. Smells smell sweeter - or more horrible. Touching, sensing, tasting, hearing, are all richer experiences than usual. In the presence of progesterone, women have a desire to do something, to create something, to work in the garden, to dance or sing a song, or make love. Sometimes progesterone surges can feel like falling in love. They can bring feelings of balanced wellbeing together with excitement - a desire to explore new worlds, and to try new things. This can happen during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle after ovulation, when the follicle turns into the yellow body (or corpus luteum), but it becomes far more intense when you are pregnant. It is a high level of progesterone that makes a woman feel on top of the world during the last months of pregnancy. At this time the placenta churns out an amazing 300 to 400 milligrams of the steroid, while during the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle it will have only been producing 20 milligrams or so a day. I suspect that among those women who seem to get pregnant over and over and who so love the whole experience, you are likely to find high progesterone levels. You also find them in women who have trouble-free menstruation. Sadly the opposite is true too: When progesterone is low - as it is in a growing number of women now, who have been subjected to manufactured hormones and who, living in the polluted world, have become oestrogen dominant - women never seem to feel well even during pregnancy. Many have all sorts of troubles with their female organs and cycles including PMS - sometimes from puberty right through to death. when oestrogens flow The oestrogens have quite a different character. When oestrogens peak in the menstrual cycle just before the `fall' of ovulation, a woman feels less independent. She is more willing to adjust herself to the needs of others. She is more inclined to see herself in relation to men too instead of as a woman in her own right. When the oestrogens are running, women like to attract a mate not so much to draw him into her body as to comfort, admire and care for her. Her ovaries seem to be smiling - `whatever you want, I'm happy to give', they seem to say. A few women who by nature are high oestrogen producers feel quite dependent on others for approval, and for the definition of their being. While such an experience can be lovely and make a woman feel highly `feminine', it can also go too far. However, in these women, when menopause finally arrives and oestrogen levels drop dramatically, often they find to their surprise and delight that for the first time in their lives they begin to feel complete in themselves - as though they don't need anybody else to validate their lives. Provided they are otherwise well, menopause can be sheer joy in the sense of freedom it brings these women - that is, once they get over the shock of being such a `different person'. From a biological point of view, there are many important actions that progesterone and oestrogen exert upon the body and psyche. Since these are little known among women and doctors alike it is worth looking at a few: Effects of Progesterone Effects of Oestrogen Increases libido Decreases libido Prevents cancer of the womb Increases risk of womb cancer Protects against fibrocystic breast disease Stimulates breast cell activity Maintains the lining of the uterus Proliferates the lining of the uterus Stimulates the building of new bone Slows down the resorption of old bone Strengthens skin Thins skin Is a natural diuretic Encourages salt and water retention Brings antidepressant effects Can produce headaches and depression Encourages fat burning and the use of stored energy Lays down fat stores Normalizes blood clotting Increases blood clotting Concerned with the procreation and survival of the fetus Concerned with the development and release of the egg Precursor to important stress hormones End-molecule steroids The reproductive hormonal menstrual cycle of a woman between puberty and the menarche is a superbly ordered natural work of art. It becomes so much a part of our lives that unless we have some particular difficulties with PMS or fertility, we hardly give it any thought. Not, that is, until things begin to alter. Once they do begin - in most women sometime between the age of forty and fifty - they usually change gradually, until finally a woman senses that something deep in her being has shifted. Such feelings herald the coming of menopause - the third phase of a woman's life.

Celebrate Menopause

Celebrate Menopause

I am sure with every fiber of my being that the joys of menopause are the world's best kept secret. Like venturing through the gateway to enter an ancient temple, in order to claim the joy that is your birthright, every woman needs to be willing to pass beyond the “monsters” that guard its gate. When you stand at the brink of menopause in your own life, it can feel as though only darkness, danger and decay lie beyond the gate. In a way this is true—although most certainly not in the way most women believe. For having passed through the doorway to menopause myself, and entered the realms beyond I am certain, as thousands of women throughout history have whispered to each other, that menopause is the most exciting passage any woman ever makes. menopause is not dangerous and frightening Of course, nobody tells you this beforehand. It’s a secret you have to discover for yourself. We continue to be bombarded by propaganda from conventional medicine, the crazy media and pharmaceutical companies warning us that menopause is dangerous and frightening. It can’t be managed without drugs, they tell us. What absolute rubbish. As I entered the gate of my own menopause, like most modern women my head had been filled with nonsense about the horrors of hot flushes, fainting spells and dry vaginas; with memories of my mother's tears shed over a wrinkle that appeared one day to mar her perfect face. Then there was the prospect of enforced celibacy—after all, no man can feel lust for an old woman. Or can he? It was partly by accident, and partly because—despite good health and secure family circumstances—my own journey through menopause was not an easy one. Yet this was how I discovered the great secret which throughout history women living in patriarchal cultures have guarded close to their hearts: The doorway to menopause is a call to adventure. It takes you out of the ordinary world in which we have been living and carries you into a numinous realm of magnified power. Within this new realm you can find treasures to match your wildest dreams, waiting to be uncovered. And, like every prize worth having, such gifts can only be claimed and brought back you we are bold enough and determined enough to answer the call. What is calling you? Nothing less than your own soul. The call to adventure The call to adventure as we near menopause can arrive in as many different forms as there are women to hear it. But, whatever shape it takes, its purpose is the same. It is asking you—imploring you—to leave behind the comfortable world of ordinary existence and, for a time, venture into a challenging unfamiliar place. It is asking you to set out on your hero's journey—a journey completely unique to you and in line with your soul’s deepest longings. Sometimes this entails making an outer journey to a real place, moving to a new job, or leaving behind a marriage which has outlived its usefulness. Other times, the journey takes place only in your mind, heart and spirit. Either way, this is an inner journey that challenges ordinary assumptions, transforming the way you think, feel and have been living—turning any weaknesses into strengths, grief into new sense of purpose and determination, despair into hope. Eventually your journey brings you home again, transformed into who you truly are. So important do I believe this mysterious transformation offered to every woman is that I wanted to share some of its magic and possibilities with you. It can help you uncover desires and talents you may never have dreamed that you possess. It’s a time to leave behind all the roles you’ve played as mother, wife, successful woman or whatever, and dare to come face to face with who in truth you are you are, and with what you long to do next as a free being. It’s a time for joy and a sense of freedom you may never have dreamed possible.

Natural Menopause Revolution

Natural Menopause Revolution

Nobody ever prepares you for menopause. Nobody tells you that if you are going to have hot flushes or emotional instability, they are likely to be far worse before you stop menstruating than afterwards. Nor does anybody explain that waking regularly at two or three in the morning, and lying in bed filled with sadness or fear or anger, is likely to be not some aberration of nature, but a messenger announcing that menopause is near. And because we are told so little about menopause - apart from the scaremongering that equates the menopause with a disease, something that needs fixing - few women in our culture are prepared for the next phase of their life. We seldom expect the intensity of emotion - both pain and pleasure - that can accompany the end of the childbearing years, nor do most of us realize that such passions can be transmuted into creative power. In fact, there are many signs that the change is near. Alterations in menstruation, for instance. Periods can become longer, heavier, shorter, lighter or irregular. You can find your feelings go up and down very much the way they did in puberty, so that one moment you are completely content with your life, and the next you want to throw everything up and go off to India to ‘find yourself’. You may begin to experience a growing dissatisfaction with the parts of your life that used to seem fine. You may also find yourself very tired without apparent reason. You may also begin to get aches and pains in joints, or find your skin suddenly seems to sag or look sallow. Some or all of these things can happen to a woman in mid life. They are commonly lumped together with menopause, some even are temporarily masked by giving hormone drugs; however, most have little to do with the change - aches and pains in the joints, weight gain, and aging skin for instance, as well as the sense many women report that they have climbed to the top of the ladder only to find that it was against the wrong wall. Such symptoms are really signs that a woman’s lifestyle - probably her values too - needs revising. It could be time to give up the work you are doing and do something else, to follow your passion, to take up weight training, to learn a technique for meditation or deep relaxation, to reeducate the way your body moves through Feldenkreist, or to revise your way of cooking and eating. If you have been eating convenience foods, or going on and off crash diets over the years, for instance, in an attempt to keep your weight down, you will have inevitably created biochemical imbalances in your body. Deficiencies of minerals such as magnesium and zinc, or trace elements such as boron or chromium here, excesses of heavy metals such as lead or aluminum from your environment there, radically interfere with the functions of enzymes in your body - which are responsible for the manufacture of hormones, for the digestion of food and assimilation of nutrients, and for the production of energy. A woman’s body has a remarkable ability to compensate for a deficiency here and there. But, as a result of chemical farming - which depletes the soils and therefore our foods of trace elements and unbalances minerals - as well as food processing, which further depletes vitamins and minerals and puts chemicals into our bodies that do not belong there, by the time mid-life arrives most women have accumulated many metabolic imbalances. In time these biochemical distortions begin to create symptoms - mood swings or depression that occur because of a resultant deficiency in brain chemicals such as serotonin, low levels of adrenal hormones that we need to cope with stress and to protect against inflammation in the tissues such as rheumatoid conditions, and fatigue with no apparent cause. Perhaps a woman also begins to get hot flushes or night sweats, both of which are a normal and temporary part of the readjustment in hormones that takes place during the profound passage of menopause, yet these days are also treated like a disease, and so she goes to her doctor for help. Yet because few doctors are trained in either nutrition or metabolic biochemistry, nor are they aware of how to use effective plant substances and natural hormones to ease a woman’s passage through the change, they believe there is no alternative but to put the woman on drug-based HRT. He will choose from an enormous variety of combinations of oestrogen and artificial progestin drugs, the latter being added to help protect her from cancer. For by now it has been well established that giving oestrogen on its own is dangerous - predisposing a woman taking it to cancer of the breast and womb. The experience of taking HRT varies widely from one woman to another. Some feel great on it. Others feel lousy and gain weight. More commonly a woman will feel better for a few months and then begin to report unpleasant side effects from the drugs she is taking. The most common complaints from prolonged HRT are migraine, bleeding, depression, water retention, increased blood pressure, weight gain, thrush, breast problems, varicose veins and chest pains. A recent Swedish survey in the university town of Linkoping showed that 48% of women who go on HRT stop taking the drug within a year. A recent British study examined the reasons most commonly given by women who give up HRT after starting the treatment: about half stop taking it because of side-effects, about one-fifth because they are advised to do so my their doctors, and about one-third either because they are afraid of long term consequences such as cancer, or because HRT has shown itself to be ineffective in helping them. Unlike changes in diet and lifestyle, at best HRT is a stop gap measure which addresses symptoms but offers little in the way of genuinely strengthening and re-balancing a woman’s body. And as far as the treatment of hot flushes is concerned - the single major symptom which is part of menopause - where the plant based treatments from say, wild yam, or agnus castus, or angelica will tend to work more slowly, it will also tend to eliminate hot flushes completely; while the woman who opts for HRT as a way of treating hot flushes finds that the moment she stops taking the oestrogen - whether in a few months or ten years - her hot flushes return. But it is time we stopped talking about the bad news connected with menopause and looked at the good. For despite all of this, we are now poised at the brink of a revolution in women’s natural health care, which promises to help women turn the menopause transition into a true passage to power, personal well being and freedom. Health educators such as Sandra Coney, author of The Menopause Industry, and Dr Robert Jacobs of The Society of Complementary Medicine in London, scientists such as biologist Renata Klein, and doctors such as (the now sadly late) John Lee MD - the only person who has ever carried out a study on 100 women and been able to reverse osteoporosis - now vigorously challenge the wisdom of established medical practices in the treatment of women with drug-based hormones. They also object strongly to the widespread propaganda which accompanies the sale of HRT, claiming that the indiscriminate doling out of potent drug-based hormones can undermine a woman’s fertility as well as trigger the development of menstrual agonies including PMS, and menopausal miseries, from endometriosis to cancer of the breast and womb. This practice of making virtually every woman a `patient’ for most of her life by subjecting her to drug treatment, not only where it may not be necessary but even when it can be potentially dangerous, is a way of diminishing her personal power and taking away control over her own body. It is therefore, they say, biologically, politically and morally reprehensible. There are two classes of major reproductive hormones in a woman’s body - the oestrogens, which are commonly lumped together and called `oestrogen’, and progesterone. When these two are in good balance, a woman’s health thrives. She remains free of PMS and other menstrual troubles. She is fertile and able to hold a fetus to full term, and menopause becomes a simple transition instead of a passage riddled with suffering. She is also protected against fibroids, endometriosis and osteoporosis, and she is likely to remain emotionally balanced and free of excessive anxiety or depression. When oestrogen and progesterone are not in balance in a woman’s body, all of these things can come a cropper. In our modern industrialized world it is easy for a woman’s biochemistry to become distorted as a result of declining physical activity, because of the proliferation of highly processed convenience foods depleted of essential minerals, and as a consequence of the rise of a whole new - as yet largely unrecognized - phenomenon known as oestrogen dominance. This is where a woman’s oestrogen levels far outweigh progesterone in her body, making her prone to cancer, menopausal agonies and menstrual miseries. Oestrogen dominance has developed in industrialized countries for many reasons, including the widespread use of oestrogen-based oral contraceptives, and the exponential spread of chemicals in our environment which are oestrogen mimics - they are taken up by the oestrogen receptor sites in a woman’s body and throw spanners in the works. Called xenoestrogens, these include the petrochemical-derivatives we take in as herbicides and pesticides which have been sprayed on our foods; the plastic cups we drink our tea out of, from which can migrate into our bodies; and even the oestrogens that come through in drinking water recycled from our rivers. Oestrogens from the Pill and HRT are excreted from a woman’s body in her urine, which end up in water and are not removed by standard water purification treatments. Every woman needs to be aware of the potential dangers of the `sea of oestrogens’ in which we are now living. Recently, Greenpeace issued a report describing the effect that xenoestrogens are having on men’s sperm count. It has dropped by 40% in the past fifty years. But far more devastating - and much less publicized - are the effects that the rising sea of oestrogens, and its consequence of oestrogen dominance, are exerting in women’s lives. Oestrogen dominance makes us more prone to breast and womb cancer, to fibroid tumors, to endometriosis, to osteoporosis, to infertility - not to mention a long list of emotional and mental imbalances. However, because much of the medical profession as well as the general public remains ignorant of the effects of xenoestrogens and the growing oestrogen dominance in women’s bodies, oestrogens continue to be prescribed heavily as part of HRT, not only to the handful of women who - around the time of menopause - may need it temporarily, but for thousands of women whose lives would be far better off without it. Neither do they know that hot flushes, dry vaginas, and early aging can usually be addressed more safely and successfully - not to mention less expensively - by alterations in diet to eliminate highly processed convenience foods (replete with junk fats which can interfere with the production of important hormones and prostaglandins in a woman’s body), changes in lifestyle, and by the use of traditional herbal remedies such as wild yam (from which many of the drugs sold for HRT incidentally are derived), chastetree, motherwort and black cohosh. Natural menopause revolutionaries are by no means altogether opposed to HRT. But they want to see it put into perspective. They insist that, while it may be useful for short periods in a small number of women who actually need oestrogen, the use of drug-based hormones in most women’s cases is costly both in financial and physical terms. Drug based oestrogens and progestogens in the ‘treatment’ of menopause have virtually all been shown to have dangerous side effects and for many who have followed such advice, the use of hormone drugs has ultimately created more problems than it has solved. Also they insist there are better, more natural, ways. One alternative to the currently available HRT appears to offer many new benefits yet is virtually side effect free. It consists of using plant derived natural progesterone - natural in the sense that it is the identical molecule to that found in a woman’s body - in the form of a cream applied to the body. Progesterone can not only help eliminate oestrogen dominance in a woman’s body, reestablishing hormonal balance; it can therefore also help protect against the many conditions with which oestrogen dominance is associated. Unlike the progestins prescribed in conventional HRT, it has virtually no side effects since it is a normal body chemical. As such, the body has the enzymes needed to metabolize it easily. Progesterone is also superior to the progestins because it is a biochemical precursor to many other important hormones in the body. This means the body can turn it into these other important hormones - adrenal hormones, for instance, to help support against stress damage, and into hormones which support brain function and balance emotions. It can even be transformed into the natural oestrogens. By contrast, the progestin drugs are ‘end product molecules’. They cannot be converted into other important body chemicals that are needed for emotional and physical health. In fact, their presence in the body may actually interfere with these conversions. After all, the progestins have to be unique molecules foreign to the human body to be patented and sold as drugs. There are no big profits for anybody in selling a generic substance such as a natural progesterone cream. This is another reason why so many doctors remain ignorant of its value in the treatment of women who need extra hormones. Unlike oestrogen commonly given in HRT to help slow down bone loss, progesterone actually increases bone density. It effectively stimulates the activity of osteoblasts - the cells which make new bone. By contrast, no drug has ever been shown to do this significantly. In most countries of the world, the progesterone cream used for natural HRT is readily available to women for their own use without a prescription. In Britain it is available by prescription from doctors who do know about it, but it can also be legally ordered by post, by any woman for her own personal use, from the United States or Ireland. In fact a  French study has recently reported not only that transdermal progesterone in small doses is well absorbed, used monthly, it reduces the risk of breast cancer. These are only a few of the exciting alternatives developing as part of the natural menopause revolution. But in many ways, what is most exciting of all about the new movement is a growing recognition that menopause is no more a disease than menstruation. It is a natural and important transition in a woman’s life - a passage every bit as important physically and spiritually as puberty was. And, like puberty, menopause carries with it enormous fluctuations in hormone levels and with them great shifts in mood, attitude and personal values, all of which are part of the passage itself. In other cultures, the transformation which takes place in a woman’s life sometime between the ages of 35 and 60 is traditionally considered a journey towards new freedom and power for a woman, a time of celebration where her creativity - until then bound to her biology - is at last set free for her to use as she wills. It is a time when women cease to give a damn what others think of their eccentricities and can set themselves free to soar into whatever realms they fancy. The passage we make at menopause - like the passage at birth or in giving birth - is a profound one which dissolves the boundaries of a woman and can take her deep inside an archetypal heroine’s journey to discover the real treasures of her life. Each woman is biochemically and spiritually unique. So is the inner journey she must make if she is to succeed in her quest for wholeness. Such journeys need to be undertaken with the highest respect for the body, the spirit and the powers of nature which bring it about. Such journeys cannot be codified. They are not packaged holidays where you pay your money, take your anti-diarrhoea pills and know exactly what to expect. These, insist natural menopause revolutionaries, are journeys of the soul.

Beware Of HRT

Beware Of HRT

In the grip of insane materialism, and controlled by the intense power of pharmaceutical companies, doctors who once practiced from a genuine passion to help heal are being forced to surrender their autonomy to a brutal overuse of dangerous chemical agents. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the “treatment” of menstrual and menopausal symptoms through the prescribing of HRT. In many ways, conventional medicine has disintegrated into a high-tech nightmare since the turn of the century. It has become controlled by the unbridled greed of corporations and government bodies who have only one goal in mind: Profit. The selling of drugs capable of producing massive side effects fails to deliver genuine healing. They do not address fundamental causes of illness. They only mask symptoms and in the process can poison your body long-term. Meanwhile, conventional health care has become so expensive that none but the top 0.1% of the population can afford it. Hundreds of thousands of people die each year as a result of using patented medicine. It is time for a radical overhaul in how we choose to treat health and healing. Nowhere is this more urgently needed than in addressing the way women’s issues are treated before, during and after menopause. Drug-based synthetic estrogens, progestins and progestogens prescribed in the form of HRT are dangerous and, used long-term, may even be life-threatening. RADICAL REVISION IS DUE Once dazzled by high-tech medical intervention at birth, we women willingly surrendered our bodies to epidurals, episiotomies and fetal monitoring equipment, which promised pain-free, trouble-free childbirth, but too often delivered problems for mother and baby. Then, inspired by the work of visionary doctors such as Michele Odent, Pierre Vellay and Frederic Leboyer, more and more women began to insist on natural childbirth, breastfeeding and good mother-child bonding. We demanded the right to drug-free childbirth and control over our own bodies. Gradually—not without resistance—doctors, hospitals and government agencies became more willing to provide this in response to the demands of us ordinary women, who kept insisting there is a better way. It’s we women ourselves who brought to fruition the natural childbirth revolution. Now it’s time for another revolution—that women’s reproductive and post-reproductive health be naturalized. It’s time we refused to swallow the nonsensical propaganda about the glories of drug-based HRT that continues to be forced upon us by the powers-that-be, and the media. LET TRUTH BE TOLD It’s time for us to begin challenging the “wisdom” of established medical practices. Time for us to dismiss the widespread propaganda which accompanies the sale of HRT. The indiscriminate doling out of potent drug-based hormones can undermine a woman’s fertility as well as trigger the development of her menstrual agonies from PMS and endometriosis to cancer of the breast and womb. The current attempt to make every woman a “patient” for most of her life by subjecting her to drug treatment through HRT is a way of diminishing her personal power and taking away control over one’s own body. I believe these practices to be biologically, politically and morally reprehensible. As Dr Jonathan Wright, Medical Director of Tahoma Clinic in Washington—and long-time advocate of bio-identical, natural hormones—says, “Replacing estrogen that your body is no longer producing with the versions found in conventional HRT is like replacing parts designed for a Chevy with those made for a Mercedes. They may be roughly the same, but with both engine parts and biology, very precise measurements matter.” NEW FACTS In 2002, researchers called a halt to a huge government- run study of HRT therapy used by millions of women under the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) when researchers discovered that long-term use of synthetic estrogen and progestin significantly increased women’s danger of stroke, blood clots, heart disease and invasive breast cancer in these women. Soon after, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published another study, showing that women who take a combination of synthetic estrogen and progestin are at high risk of getting a highly aggressive form of breast cancer. Meanwhile, other studies showed that HRT increases the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia and asthma. Then in 2010 more new research discovered that combined estrogen-progestin HRT increases the risk for more severe forms of breast cancer as well as increasing women’s chances of dying, from the disease and from other causes. This is but a tiny sampling of the research that continues to appear since the turn of the millennium, strongly exposing serious consequences from believing the hype for HRT and choosing to allow such synthetic chemicals into your body. CALL TO ACTION There is mounting dissatisfaction among women themselves. Many women write to me about this. They continue to be told that HRT is the only answer to mid-life depression, hot flushes, loss of sexual appetite and early aging. Women are by no means stupid, provided they have not been brainwashed by a media who these days toe the corporate party line in our chaotic world on the verge of unnecessary wars waged by insane governments. Women are smart. We know in our gut that such advice goes against our deepest intuition. Now is the time for us to stand up, band together, and make sure our voices are heard. For a long time, menstruation was talked about as a disease. Now it’s menopause which is treated as the biggest “crisis” demanding extreme medical treatment. Why? And because HRT is a billion dollar business, magazines and the internet are full of “reassuring” information about how “beneficial” and “necessary” are the synthetic hormones in the form of HRT given to women. You’ll find all sorts of soft-sounding names of organisations eager to give you such advice. They too are not to be trusted. Why? Because many conveniently toe the party line, like much of the media—choosing to minimize the dangers of HRT, under the guidance of strong control and direction from profit-seeking corporations. In the USA now, half of menopausal women are still using synthetic hormones, having been told that HRT is the only possible answer for alleviating their suffering during a time of profound change in their lives. Pharmaceutical companies forecast that, within the next decade, 75% of menopausal and post-menopausal women will be on HRT for the rest of their lives. A few loud voices still insist that HRT is “the most important advance in this half of the century”, proselytizing that taking hormone drugs can safeguard a woman’s bones and heart as well as keep her eternally young. None of these claims have been adequately proven, while many—including the notion that HRT can be used as a youth treatment—are blatantly false. SOME GOOD NEWS Despite our being asked to believe that HRT is both a miracle of modern science and an essential treatment for menopausal women, there is much evidence that, once the immediate flush of excitement of a new treatment is over, most women’s experience of using HRT does not back up these assertions. Many who start HRT initially experience a kind of euphoria, primarily because the one thing that estrogen replacement gets rid of almost immediately is the hot flushes that can disturb your sleep and contribute to exhaustion. But the hot flushes return as soon as they come off it. And significant numbers of women report that, a few months later, their experience of HRT has worsened dramatically, because of side-effects it can engender including mood swings, decreased control over the bladder, fatigue, headaches, and many other miserie that have developed since they began taking it. Some of the most common complaints I hear from women who have used prolonged HRT include migraines, bleeding, depression, water retention, increased blood pressure, weight gain, thrush, breast problems, varicose veins and chest pains. A Swedish survey in the university town of Linkoping showed that 48% of women who go on HRT stop taking the drug within a year. A British study examined the reasons most commonly given by women who give up HRT after starting the treatment: Half of these women stopped taking it because of side-effects, about one-fifth because they were advised to do so by their doctors, and about one-third either because they are afraid of long-term consequences such as cancer, or because HRT has shown itself to be ineffective in significantly helping them. THE ROAD AHEAD So where do we go from here? A woman’s hormonal system, with all its ebbs and flows, which parallel those of the earth’s tides and the moon itself, acts as an interface between her emotional life and her body. Mess with her hormones and you may even undermine her ability to grow spiritually. There are better, natural ways of handling them. In the next six weeks I will be sharing them with you. I will be writing another three articles—every other week—at www.lesliekenton.com. They will address the most important issues in relation to handling menopause naturally. Here are some of the issues I’ll be writing about: What is natural Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) all about? How does it work? How is it different from pharmaceutical HRT? What causes hot flushes and how can you clear them naturally? Can BHRT be useful in managing stress? How is your hormone balance related to diet, lifestyle and attaining optimal health? Are there specific herbal remedies that work to counter premenopausal, menopausal and post menopausal issues ? Be sure to join me—every other week—at www.lesliekenton.com. I look forward to connecting with you and hearing back from you about your own experiences, as well as receiving your comments and questions while you are reading this important series, which I am passionate about sharing with you.

What Every Women Wants

What Every Women Wants

Great stories carry hidden secrets that can transform a life. They bring us face-to-face with hidden truths that help free us from false beliefs and attitudes, self-criticism and negativity that crush us. Cultural conditioning has taught us to undervalue the wild creativity that lies within—that part of us which is instinctual, irrational, and full of passion. Conventional society is so frightened of these things that we have been taught to fear ourselves and to judge ourselves harshly. We swallow our anger even when it is righteous. We crush our wild nature and we see ourselves as ugly. Yet locked within what we most hate and fear lies the greatest power for true freedom. Today I’d like to share with you one of my favorite mythologies of self-discovery—as delightful and important for men as it is for women. Here’s how it goes: THE LOATHLY LADY One Christmastide Arthur rode out with his knights to hunt. By chance he became separated from his companions and found himself at the edge of a great brackish pond. There, a knight in black armour emerged from the shadows and challenged him to a fight. Arthur reached to draw his sword Excalibur and call on its power to protect him from all harm. Alas, he had come away from court without it. He could feel every ounce of strength drain away from his body in the presence of the dark and evil stranger who raised his sword and threatened to kill him. Being a responsible king, of course, Arthur told the dark knight he didn't think that killing him was such a great idea—he had a country to rule, after all, and knights to look after. Where would they be without him? The stranger, bored at the thought of such an easy kill, relented and replied, "OK, I won't kill you so long as you return to this place in three days with the answer to a riddle I shall give you. If you fail I shall remove your head in one fwll swoop." WHAT DOES SHE WANT Arthur agreed. He figured that given half a chance and a mug or two of fancy mead, his pals back at the castle would be sure to come up with something. The riddle the stranger posed was this: "What does every woman want?" So Arthur headed home to ask all of his knights and wise men to give him the answer. Everyone from Merlin to a goose girl he met along the road had a go. Each gave him a different answer: "A woman wants beauty," said one. "A woman wants power," said another, or fame, or jewels, or sanctity. None could agree. Time was running out. Finally, although he had done his best to hide from his beloved Guinevere the seriousness of the situation, the third morning arrived. Bound by his word of honor to the Black Knight, Arthur had to face the music. Along the road to the meeting at the brackish waters, Arthur came upon an old woman. She sat on a tree stump by the side of the road calling his name. Arthur dismounted and approached her with all the courtesy he could muster. For the closer he came, the more ghastly this old hag appeared. Although she was dressed in fine silk and wore magnificent jewels on her gnarled and twisted hands, she was unquestionably the most hideous thing he had ever seen—or dreamed of, for that matter. Her nose was like a pig's, her mouth was huge, toothless and dribbling. What hair remained on her head was greasy, and the skin all over her misshapen and bloated body was covered in oozing sores. COURTESY CHALLENGED Arthur swallowed hard, forcing himself not to have to look away. "My Lord," she said in a surprisingly gentle voice, "Why look you so dismayed?" Summoning up all his chivalrous training, Arthur apologized for his manner, trying to explain it away by telling her he was most unsettled at the prospect of returning to meet his death at the hand of an evil knight because he could not tell him the answer to the riddle, "What does every woman want?" "Ah," said the hag. "I can tell you that. But such knowledge cannot be given without payment." Arthur, hoping once again for a reprieve from death, replied, "Of course Madam, anything you desire shall be yours for the answer—even half my kingdom." IMPOSSIBLE REQUEST The Loathly Lady made Arthur bend down while she whispered a few words in his ear." The moment Arthur heard them, he knew his life and his kingdom had been saved. He was about to leap on his horse again and ride off to meet the stranger when she tugged on his cloak and said, "Now I want my reward." "Of course Madam, what is it that you want?" he asked. "I want to be the wife of your bravest knight and live at your court." Arthur, who only a moment before had felt his spirits soar, was plunged into the deepest despair. How could he possibly expect any knight to consent to marry such a hideous hag? And what would it be like to have to endure such ugliness every day at court? "But Madam, that is impossible!" he said. The words slipped through his lips before he could catch them. Aghast at his own lack of courtesy and agonized by having to ask any of his knights, Arthur said, "I beg your pardon, Madam. You are quite right. Come to court tomorrow. There waiting for you will be your future husband." So saying, he mounted his horse and rode off to meet the Black Knight to convey to him the answer to the riddle. When he got back to the castle, Arthur was distraught. The knights questioned him. He confessed that he had won his life from the Black Knight but then told them at what cost and reported his promise to the Loathly Lady. "My very honor is at stake," said Arthur, wringing his hands, "unless one of you will agree to wed her." His knights were horrified at the prospect and tried to avoid his gaze. But one—the youngest knight of all—Sir Gawain, the most courageous and purest of heart stood up. "Worry, not my liege," Gawain said, "I shall save you, I will marry the woman no matter what her mien." SELF-PROFESSED HERO Gawain did not have long before he rued his offer. The marriage was planned for the following morning and the hag arrived at court. When he looked upon her, even Gawain with all his chivalry did not know how he could go through with the ceremony. It demanded every ounce of his courage. Somehow he managed it. But things got worse. When the festivities were over, the couple were obliged to retire to their chamber for the night. Gawain, unable to face the hideousness of his wife, sat for long hours in their bedchamber with his back to the lady, writing at his desk and praying she would go to sleep without him. Was he to spend the rest of his life shackled to such a hideous monster? ENCHANTED WOMAN Long past midnight, as the candle burnt low, he felt a hand come to rest upon his shoulder. "Will you not come to bed now, my Lord?" a voice whispered from behind him. Shuddering with horror, Gawain mustered his courage to look at her. To his astonishment there stood not the ugly hag he had married but the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She had golden hair and ivory skin. "Why do you seem so surprised, My Lord?" she said to him. "I am indeed your wife. I was enchanted by a wicked magician. But now the enchantment is half broken by your having consented to marry me and so you see I stand before you now in my true form." Gawain could not believe his luck. "Half broken?" he asked. "Yes, my lord" was the reply. "Sadly I am only allowed to spend half the time in my true form. For the rest I must return to the shape of the same hag which this afternoon you married. And now you must choose, my Lord. Would you have me be my true self at night when we are alone together and the hag during daylight hours?" Gawain, whose mind was flooded with passion at the thought of her beauty filling his bed each night replied eagerly, "Yes, that is certainly how it must be." TEARS FOR FREEDOM In the eye of his beautiful lady appeared a tear. "But sir," she said, "Would you then have me suffer the humiliation of the court who cannot conceal their horror at my ugliness?" Now Gawain, if he was nothing else, was compassionate. He could not bear to bring this beautiful woman a tear of sorrow. "No, of course not," he replied. "It shall be the other way round, of course. You shall be my beautiful wife for the court during daylight hours and the hag at night." But this only made the lady weep the more. "Oh sir, would you then deny me forever the joy and pleasure of your embrace?" She asked. Poor Gawain, who after all was but a man (and man has never found it easy to deal with woman's grief) did not know what to do. After much thought he replied, "My lady, whatever choice I make will be the wrong one. It is therefore for you to choose which you prefer." At the sound of his words the Lady threw herself into his arms in glorious laughter. "In so saying, my Lord, you have given the right answer. You have bestowed upon me what every woman wants—her own way. The spell at last is broken. You will never have to look upon the hideous hag again. I am my true self and it belongs to you forever." Such is the power of accepting that which to ourselves is most loathsome. And such is the power of myth in reminding us of it.

Sacred Truth Ep. 51: Female Sexuality

Sacred Truth Ep. 51: Female Sexuality

For many years I’ve worked with herbs. I love the purity of them and their effectiveness when used to treat everything from infections and fatigue to depression and clearing stress. High on the list of my favorite herbs is Ashwagandha. It is also one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing. It's been used since ancient times to impart the vigor and strength of a stallion to the body. In fact, in Sanskrit, the name itself means "the smell of the horse." Ashwagandha has long been known for its rejuvenating properties. Recently an excellent study reported in Biomed Research International discovered that Ashwagandha could significantly improve female sexual functions when women are given it in a concentrated form as a root extract. Fifty women diagnosed with female sexual dysfunction, including lack of sexual desire, poor sexual arousal, little or no female orgasmic experience, and an inability to become aroused through genital stimulation, were given this remarkable herb in an attempt to find out what, if anything, it might do to enhance their sexuality. Twenty-five of them took 300 mg of Ashwagandha root twice a day. The other twenty-five received a placebo during the eight-week period of the study. Researchers evaluated their sexual functions, including lubrication, arousal, desire, satisfaction, orgasm, pain, and overall sexual activity response to therapy, at four weeks and then again at eight weeks during the study. Those who received Ashwagandha reported significant improved sexual function scores when it came to orgasm, satisfaction, arousal, and lubrication. They experienced heightened sexual desire and even a growing number of successful sexual encounters by the end of the eight weeks compared to the women who'd been given a placebo. Researchers also discovered that Ashwagandha given in this way lowers the experience of chronic stress, which interferes with sexual response by lowering serum cortisol. They also reported another possible mechanism by which Ashwagandha enhances female sexuality: it was by "offsetting androgen deficiency syndrome, which is seen as contributing to a lack of sexual desire in some women." What is also interesting is that this wonderful herb even appears to increase serum testosterone, which plays an important part in sexual functioning in both men and women. The power of something as simple as a herb never ceases to amaze me, provided you know how to use it. Ashwagandha is rich in medicinal chemicals including alkaloids, choline, amino acids, fatty acids, and a variety of natural sugars. I’ve used it for many years to counter all kinds of difficulties, including problems concentrating, fatigue, stress, and lack of vitality. I discovered long ago that it can alleviate not only these common symptoms, but also supports energetic rejuvenation and heightens our sense of well-being. Of course medical researchers have been examining the power of Ashwagandha for years. There are more than 200 studies on the healing benefits of this botanical. Here are just a few of the other healing properties of Ashwagandha: It offers anti-inflammatory benefits. It helps reduce brain cell degeneration. It stabilizes blood sugar. It reduces depression and anxiety. It protects the immune system. Ashwagandha is what is known as an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens contain a combination of health-giving substances including vitamins, amino acids, and other plant factors to support health. They can help your body cope with all sorts of external stressors, including poisons in the environment as well as internal challenges, including insomnia and anxiety. A healthy body is only built when we take into it essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, which it can make use of by metabolizing them into energy and metabolic information for our tissues, organs, and cells. Ashwagandha is usually given in quantities from 600 to 1000 mg twice a day. It can be a great comfort for people who suffer from anxiety and insomnia. Drinking a cup of herb tea that contains a teaspoon of powdered Ashwagandha root before bed can be great for improving sleep. Of course you should always consult with your healthcare practitioner before using any herb to make sure that it is suitable for you, especially if you are taking any pharmaceutical drugs. Ashwagandha is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. Here are a couple of my favorite forms of Ashwagandha: Organic India, Organic, Ashwagandha, 90 Veggie Caps Relieves Stress & Builds Vitality Made with Certified Organic Herbs Herbal Dietary Supplement Safe for Vegans and Vegetarians Gluten Free Order Organic India Ashwagandha from iherb Irwin Naturals, Steel-Libido for Women, 75 Liquid Soft-Gels Bioperine Powered Absorption Promotes Healthy Sexual Response & Pleasure Daily Essentials Fatty Acids - Omega-3 Oils Dietary Supplement Order Irwin Naturals from iherb

Insomnia - To Sleep Or Not To Sleep

Insomnia - To Sleep Or Not To Sleep

A great many sleep issues are more the result of worrying about insomnia than anything else. Many people who consider themselves insomniacs are really victims of general propaganda about sleep rather than true non-sleepers. And many people seek treatment because they can only sleep four or five hours a night, although that may be all they need. There is nothing more apt to cause sleeplessness than the worry that you won't be able to drop off. Sometimes sleeplessness can be normal. We all experience a sleepless night now and then, particularly if we are over-tired, worried, or excited about some coming event. THE TRUTH ABOUT INSOMNIA Real, chronic insomnia is less frequent. A major research project into long-term insomnia turned up some interesting facts about sufferers. Over 85 per cent of the 300 insomniacs studied had one or more major pathological personality indication, such as depression, obsessive compulsive tendencies, schizophrenic characteristics or sociopathy. For them, their insomnia was a secondary symptom of a more basic conflict—a socially acceptable problem they could talk about without fear of being judged. Insomnia can simply be a mask for whatever is really bothering the non-sleeper. Sometimes an inability to sleep can be a manifestation of a nutritional problem, often a deficiency of zinc coupled with an excess of copper—which produces a mind that is intellectually overactive and won't wind down—or a deficiency of calcium or magnesium or vitamin E—which can lead to tension and cramping in the muscles and a difficulty in letting go. 300mg of magnesium taken before bed often clears cramping and allows you to sleep more peacefully. BE COOL The more easygoing an attitude you take to sleep, the less likely you are to have any problem with it. If you miss an hour or two, or if you are not sleepy, simply stay up, read a book, or finish some work. Believe it or not, one of the best times for coming up with creative ideas is in the middle of a sleepless night. It can be the perfect opportunity for turning stress into something creative. Chances are that you'll more than make up for a few lost hours of sleep in the next couple of days—provided you don't let yourself get anxious about it. IT’S A WOMAN THING Insomnia is one of the greatest fears of all for women. Eight times more women report sleep difficulties to their doctors throughout their lives than do men. Apart from the motherhood-induced insomnia which comes from having to feed a baby, if ever you are going to have trouble sleeping it is most likely to be during the perimenopausal years just before your periods stop, or much later on in your seventies and eighties. People sleep less as they get older for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a decrease in the production of a brain hormone called melatonin which regulates the body's circadian rhythms. How much sleep you need can change depending on your life circumstances too. When you are pregnant, eat less wholesome foods, are under stress or ill you may need more sleep. You need more sleep when you gain weight, too. When losing weight, or during a detoxification regime, you will often sleep less. The sleeplessness that occurs in women around the time of menopause and is usually not so much a difficulty in going to sleep but a tendency to awaken regularly at the same time each night (usually 2 or 3 in the morning) and to lie wide awake. Because we are accustomed to sleeping through the night we assume that there must be something wrong. Yet sleeplessness can sometimes bring new insights, if you are ready to receive them. Many artists, writers and composers will tell you that they receive inspiration for new projects and discover ways of overcoming creative challenges on awakening in the night. That being said, when sleeplessness becomes chronic it can leave you feeling exhausted, hopeless and washed out, in which case something needs to be done about it. Sleeping pills are not the answer. Their side-effects include digestive problems, poor concentration, disorders of the blood and respiration, high blood pressure, liver and kidney troubles, problems with vision, depression, dizziness, confusion and damage to the central nervous system. Using them can even lead to worse insomnia. There are better ways. HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT The next time you are troubled by sleeplessness experiment with nature's best sleep aids. Spend 20 minutes in the sun or in very bright light each morning. Your circadian rhythms are linked to sunlight. The sun sets our natural clocks properly and acts as a natural energizer too. Get more exercise. This helps burn up stress-caused adrenalin build up in the brain which can result in that tense, nervous feeling where you are ‘up’ and can't seem to get ‘down’. Experiment with exercising at different times of the day to see which time works best for you in terms of relaxing you and making you ready for sleep at night. Never take strenuous exercise before going to bed as it can set the heart pounding and stimulate the whole body far too much. Don't take on any new activities late in the day. Don't take a nap in the evening or late afternoon. Eat early, not late. In fact, the earlier the better. Make dinner your smallest meal of the day and avoid snacks after dinner since they can interfere with sleep. Everybody sleeps better on an empty stomach despite what the hot drink manufacturers would have you believe. Don't drink coffee or alcohol at dinner, or other strong stimulants. This isn't just an old wives tale. One researcher looking into the effects of caffeine on human beings recently showed that total sleep time is decreased by two hours and the mean total of intervening wakefulness more than doubles when men and women are given caffeine equivalent to a couple of cups of coffee. Alcohol may put you to sleep but it tends not to keep you there, awakening you instead in the early hours of the morning. Drink plenty of water during the day. Sleep is induced by the brain and brain cells need adequate hydration both to stay awake during the daylight hours and to trigger the dreamy relaxation that brings on sleep. Hardly anyone drinks as much water as they profitably could. I regularly consume at least 2 litres of mineral water a day in addition to whatever other drinks I may have. Don't go to bed when you are not sleepy. Instead, pursue some pleasant activity, preferably passive. Television is not the best choice for rays emitted from the set disturb your nervous system when you least need it. Get into a rut, going to bed as far as possible at the same time every night and developing a routine or simple ritual about it. When it comes to getting ready for sleep each night the body loves routines, they foster relaxation and let the body know what to expect. Make bedtime and rising time as regular as possible and go through the same routine each evening of putting the cat out, opening the window, reading a book, etc. Soak in a lukewarm (not hot) bath for 30 minutes topping up with hot water to maintain the temperature at just blood heat. (A hot bath before bed is a mistake. It is far too stimulating to the heart and gets your motor running.) Blot your skin dry without friction and go straight to bed moving slowly. This can be a great thing to do in the middle of the night if you awaken too - use a candle instead of turning on the light and let yourself relax as you probably never can during the day when a telephone could ring or someone might demand something of you. Insist that you sleep in a room by yourself when you want to be alone. Nights, sometimes weeks, sleeping alone can be enormously restful and fruitful. Use an ioniser. A little contraption beside your bed that sends negative ions into the air is a godsend to anyone who has the kind of nervous system that tends to go ‘up’ and doesn't want to come ‘down’. Although not cheap, it is an excellent investment for you can use it at a desk when you have a lot of work to do. Or, if you buy one of the portable varieties, you can also take it in the car on long trips to keep from going to sleep (it magically works both ways). Negative ions also stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain. Listen to mellow music. Music too can help alter consciousness and have you sinking blissfully into the depths of slumber. An ipod by the side of your bed is one of the most pleasant ways of all of putting a racing mind to rest and easing yourself into sleep. Use essential oils. They can have a wonderfully calming effect on the mind and body. You can take a warm bath with them or place a few drops on your pillow to inhale through the night. For the bath use four drops of lavender oil, two drops of camomile and two drops of neroli (orange blossom). Or try a drop or two of each on your pillow. Count your blessings. It's an old fashioned idea but it is a true key to deep relaxation and blissful sleep. Each night as you turn out the light think of six things during the day which you have to be thankful for, regardless of your physical or emotional state or how difficult your life may be at the time. This gradually turns the mind to dwell on pleasurable themes while you are awake. It can even improve the quality of your dreams. Make use of effective relaxation techniques (coming soon). You will find they enhance many other areas of your life too. Stop worrying about getting to sleep. Just let it happen. If it doesn't tonight, so what? It will tomorrow night. Or the next. Lack of sleep is not going to kill you, but worrying about it long enough just might.

Be Wary Of Mammograms

Be Wary Of Mammograms

We have long been told that the “gold standard—life-saving” tool for protecting us from the ravages of breast cancer is regular mammograms. So powerful is the pro-mammogram lobby that we’ve come to believe if we do not have regular mammogram x-rays, we are irresponsible as well as at high risk of dying from cancer. This is quite simply not true. And in no way can mammography be considered a risk-free procedure. Far from it. Mammography relies on powerful ionizing radiation, which can actually cause cancer. One mammogram delivers the radiation equivalent of 1,000 chest x-rays into your body. Each year in the United States, an amazing 4 billion dollars is spent on over-diagnosis and false-positives in relation to mammography results. In fact, false positive results are known to be as high as 56% in a woman who has undergone 10 mammograms. Meanwhile, the physical and emotional damage of any woman having to live through “false positive” diagnoses can unnecessarily fill her life with fear. Recently, a massive study on mammography involving 90,000 women studied for 25 years concluded that mammograms have absolutely NO effect on mortality rates. As reported in the New York Times: "One of the largest and most meticulous studies of mammography ever done, involving 90,000 women and lasting a quarter­century, has added powerful new doubts about the value of the screening test for women of any age. It found that the death rates from breast cancer and from all causes were the same in women who got mammograms and those who did not. And the screening had harms: one in five cancers found with mammography and treated was not a threat to the woman's health and did not need treatment such as chemotherapy, surgery or radiation." Earlier on, researchers at Dartmouth in the United States wanted to find out how often lives are actually saved by mammography. They examined breast cancer data from The National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They discovered that the probability of a mammogram saving a life is well below 25%. They concluded, “Most women with screen-detected breast cancer have not had their life saved by screening. They are instead either diagnosed early (with no effect on their mortality) or over-diagnosed.” Personally, I have never had a mammogram. Why? Because my gut feeling has always said “no”. This was long before a massive accumulation of clinical evidence began to show up, indicating that the 30kVp range of “low-energy” radiation used in breast screenings is up to 400% more damaging to human DNA (read 400% more carcinogenic) than the so-called “high-energy” radiation which it is often compared to. I would stay away from mammography in any shape or form. How do you protect yoursel from cancer naturally? This is what I’ll be covering in next week’s videocast. Join me then.

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