Guest blog by Elizabeth Joseph
@elizabethjosephnavigating on Instagram
In 1966, Dr Robert Wilson, a New York gynaecologist, published a bestseller called Feminine Power. In it, he referred to menopausal women as galloping catastrophes.
Well, this galloping catastrophe spent two years wandering around completely lost and clueless that she had stumbled unknowingly into Perimenopause. Or as I like to call it – Hell Gorge.
Knowing where we are doesn’t change anything and yet it changes everything. We now know we are not ill; we now know do not need to be cured; we are just passing through and we will come out the other side bolder and braver than we entered.
We do not all experience our time in Hell Gorge in the same way. Not all of us have all of the symptoms. But we do know that the aches and pains, the insomnia, the itchy skin, the mood swings, the brain fog, the digestive issues, the burning mouth, the dry eyes, the rage, the loss of libido, the hot flushes, the night sweats and the epic wind are merely the result of our fluctuating hormones.
We are not content though, to merely grit our teeth and get on with it, as we wander through Hell Gorge. We are determined to find the best way through for ourselves – whether that is HRT or a natural approach, or a combination of both. I am navigating a natural path and, and as anyone who follows me on Instagram will know, currently enjoying a range of approaches out there and some that are really ‘out there’.
I have tried it all: from womb massage to fart pants through distance reflexology, hypnotherapy and oatmeal baths. I actively enjoy blasting myself with icy cold water at the end of my shower and have been known to bob around in the North Sea.
Crazy? Well, maybe.
But I know that I am actively boosting my immune system, improving my circulation, reducing stress, reducing my levels of inflammation, giving myself a natural high and adding to my repertoire of swear words.
I have taken up meditation and now practise for 10 minutes a day, after lunch, to aid my digestion, ease mood swings, clear brain fog and lessen the rage. I have taken up strength training. I have given face yoga a go. The list goes on and on. It has been difficult to pick just a few approaches to share with you.
But let’s go for earthing, tapping, taping, turmeric and tabasco. Yes, really.
Let’s begin with earthing. Earthing, also known as grounding, is a rather marvellous concept. It simply involves putting your bare feet on the earth, preferably in the morning sun, ideally for at least 20 minutes, to attune yourself with its powerful electrical field, thereby reducing inflammation, speeding recovery and improving sleep.
Now, as I live in the North East of England, I most definitely do not have morning sun all year round. I also don’t have a lawn. I have a small yard and I don’t think standing in one of my larger plant pots is going to quite cut it. However, I promise you that the few times that I’ve had the guts to do this in the local park, or indeed alongside The Angel of The North, I am convinced it did improve my sleep that night and possibly lessened some aching joints. If you have a garden why not give this a try. Stand outside with your morning cuppa. At the very least, you’ll get some quiet time just for you – and maybe even get the neighbours twitching their curtains.
Another natural approach that you may wish to attempt, in the privacy of your own home, is tapping. Tapping, also known as Emotional Freedom Technique, is believed to ease both physical and emotional pain. It focuses on the meridian points, in a similar way to acupuncture, to restore the body’s energy balance. Guided by a practitioner you simply tap various points on your body and face in a way that can help to release built up ‘emotional congestion’. I was fairly sceptical until I tried it myself and the tears just flowed. I felt amazing afterwards. There are beginner’s tapping apps available, and video demonstrations online. I also have an example session on my Instagram page. Give it a go. I highly recommend it.
For all tapping is great, I did not get on quite so favourably with taping – mouth taping that is!
Lots of people swear by mouth taping at night. Using a small piece of micropore tape to keep your lips closed, and to encourage you to breathe through your nose, you can improve your sleep. It is also believed to improve oral health, bolster your immune system and lower your blood pressure. It remains scientifically unproven but those who do it absolutely rave about it.
I gave it a go but lasted only 3 nights. On the first night, my son climbed into the bed after a nightmare and got the shock of his life. On the second, all was well and I thought maybe I did feel better in the morning. On the third night, the tape went AWOL and I discovered it on my shoulder at lunchtime, which was a relief as I had convinced myself I’d swallowed it in the night. But just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.
A slightly less ‘out there’ approach is adding the spice turmeric into your system. Turmeric, or rather curcumin the active ingredient found in turmeric, can help to reduce inflammation in the body, low moods, anxiety and hot flushes as well as detoxifying the liver and improving skin health. So far, I have just sought to add more turmeric to my cooking and am not sure how much of a difference I can actually see or feel. I am considering whether to take a supplement containing turmeric or start adding a small amount to a glass of hot water and lemon of a morning. I would be keen to hear from you if you have tried turmeric and seen a difference.
And finally – tabasco. Tabasco? Yes, tabasco, for a burning mouth. Burning mouth?
Let me explain. Hormonal changes, specifically a drop in Oestrogen, can lead to your mouth producing less saliva. This in turn can lead to feeling as if you’ve burned your mouth and/or your tongue. Tabasco contains capsaicin. Capsaicin is a component of chilli peppers – it makes them hot. It also works as an analgesic (pain reliever). It is used in patches and creams to treat joint and muscular pain. So why not fight fire with fire? Mix a few drops of tabasco in a teaspoon of water and slosh it around your mouth. Up to four times a day for a couple of days. It worked for me. No more burning mouth. Incredible.
So, there you have it, a range of natural approaches to make your time in Hell Gorge a little more comfortable. Which will you try?
Do let me know.
You can follow @elizabethjosephnavigating on Instagram.