Hey there beautiful women, women with laugh lines well-earned, women who have lived some life and cried some tears. Hey there to you wonderful women who have some decades under your belt, some wisdom tucked like feathers in your hat, a mind that has had to open wider and heart that has had to grow bigger than you thought possible. Life weathers us and pries us open; all for the better. Supporting our bodies to grow and age with strength and flexibility to match our hearts and minds is the domain of nutrition and herbal medicine.
Herbal medicine has always been an integral part of women’s knowledge and wisdom. Home remedies and old wives’ tales often measure up to modern scientific scrutiny, and women’s deep connection with plants, whether in our gardens or kitchens, our vases or medicine cupboards, is well documented. Plants offer beauty and sustenance. They also offer powerful healing support, especially at times of stress when we need it most.
Living on this planet a while we notch up more and more oxidative stress, and we also lose the ability to produce the same quantity of our own antioxidants. Oxidative damage is what contributes to wrinkles, one of our most visible signs of free radical activity; but imagine what might be happening on your insides! Oxidative damage is linked to many age-related conditions and many specific diseases, as it increases damage to tissues and DNA itself. Such damage is a key factor implicated in a variety of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and auto-immune diseases, amongst others.
Antioxidants are becoming more widely known, and at the cutting edge of antioxidant research are plants. Foods and botanical extracts often have far greater ability to provide antioxidant protection than synthetic vitamins because as well as quenching free radicals themselves, some can actually turn on, or revitalise our own cellular antioxidant mechanisms, which are the best defence we have. Herbal medicines are some of the most potent antioxidant sources known. Echinacea root and olive leaf extract are two antioxidant-rich herbs that are also known to support healthy immune function. Berries, including elderberries, raspberries, boysenberries and the especially potent New Zealand blackcurrants are another excellent source of antioxidants, as they are rich in flavonoids called anthocyanins. New Zealand blackcurrants have been shown to have significantly higher antioxidant levels than almost any other berry, fruit or vegetable, due to their extremely high anthocyanin and flavonoid content. If you can’t eat a bowlful of fresh berries every day, new liquid extracts are available to be taken as a daily tonic.
Oxidative stress is increased by:
- Strenuous exercise; athletes can be at risk of lower antioxidant levels
- Asthmatics can be at risk of lower antioxidant levels, giving rise to greater incidence of respiratory infection
- Pollution, pesticides, heavy metals
- Air travel
While oxidative stress wreaks havoc on a cellular level, the emotional stress that crops up from feelings of pressure or being overwhelmed by our busy lives also has the potential to cause physiological damage. Again, herbal medicine can offer some wonderful solutions. Withania root has the ability to support a healthy balance in the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and facilitate our natural coping mechanisms when the negative impacts of stress affect our body. Numerous studies concluded that withania also has benefits for improving our resilience and performance under stress. It is known to support vitality and energy while calming tensions, easing anxiety and improving sleep. Recent research also shows that it can improve women’s sexual satisfaction. What’s not to like? When combined with the nervous system support herb lemon balm, and a good dose of stress-balancing B vitamins, withania may be the perfect ally to help you through times of difficulty.
An inevitable aspect of aging for women is menopause, and, more importantly, peri-menopause. More importantly? I say that because menopause itself is when your periods have completely stopped. The menstrual cycle transitioned through its last cycle 6-12 months ago by the time you are actually ‘menopausal’.
Peri-menopause is the time leading up to this; and this is often when the symptoms can be the most difficult. Despite living in this age of full disclosure and over-sharing, this age of Dr Google and information overload, peri-menopause is still often poorly understood by the very women who are in the midst of it.
The characteristics of menopause are very individual and almost infinantely variable. Some women may experience very little discomfort or change, whilst others may have days, weeks, months or years of any number of some common (and unpleasant) signs of their transition into menopause. These may include mood swings, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, hot flushing, night sweats and vaginal dryness. After reading the previous paragraph you might think that withania may prove useful here, and you’d be absolutely right! Adrenal support with withania can be of very real benefit for many peri-menopausal and menopausal women, especially when combined with targeted herbal hormonal support. Black cohosh is one of the most well-researched herbs for this time in a woman’s life, providing a welcome and valid natural alternative to synthetic hormone therapies. Black cohosh can help the body to cope with diminishing oestrogen levels, while sage is a herb specifically used for excessive sweating, so is perfect for women who get excessive perspiration, day or night.
Herbal medicine continues to provide powerful support for women’s health, helping us to age with grace, strength and well-being. A simple daily tonic, providing antioxidant and immune support in the form of herbs and berries can help keep our bodies in an optimal form in the face of daily environmental pressures, whilst other herbal medicines offer targeted support for times of additional stress and change. Beautiful!
Kiwiherb Meno-Balance – Black Cohosh & Sage is specially designed to support hormone balance and promote general health and well-being in menopause. Kiwiherb Echiberry is a delicious way to get your daily dose of antioxidants and supercharge your immunity. It provides the equivalent of 45g fresh berries in every 10 ml. You can buy them now from our online secure shop.
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