Tag Archives: menopause

Maca Smoothies for More Vibrant Days

On hot summer days, I tend to have more smoothies for breakfast. Though there are many ingredients I love, the maca I am adding seems to contribute to my sense of wellbeing. This is probably because maca is an adaptogen and a hormone balancer.

By adaptogen, I am referring to maca’s ability to reduce the negative impact stress has on our bodies. We might still experience the stress, but it is not as harmful on our overall health. A recent study showed that women who experienced more stress burned fewer calories after eating a high fat meal compared to the women with fewer stressors. The study showed that the higher stress levels correlated with higher insulin levels, which can contribute to belly fat. The study didn’t address adaptogens like maca, but in theory, these types of herbs might improve insulin levels and therefore help our metabolism. I also find that adaptogens give me more stamina to get through long days.

Maca powder

Maca powder

The other popular benefit of maca is as a hormone balancer for both women and men. It is maybe most widely known as a libido enhancer. It isn’t going to necessarily help everyone since not all libido issues are related hormones, but for those cases, it can be a great choice. Consuming maca might also help conditions like prostate issues, PMS, hot flashes, acne, and even some types of depression.

Because maca is traditionally used in fairly large quantities, it is a perfect item to add to a smoothie or other food. I usually put 1-2 teaspoon in each smoothie. When I added 3 teaspoons I noticed a bit of a spicy radish-like taste that I didn’t like.

Here is my current smoothie recipe:

1 scoop Sunwarrior Chocolate Warrior Blend or other protein powder

1-2 tsp Barley grass or other greens powder

1-2 Maca powder

2 Tbs Almond butter or other nut butter or nuts

1 tsp Cacoa powder

1-2 Tbs ground Flaxseeds and or chia seeds

1 Tbs Coconut oil

1 to 1 ½ cups water

Blend in a blender until smooth with any of these other ingredients I might want that day:

Fresh or frozen fruits or veggies like avocado, baby greens, or sprouts

Coconut water to replace some of the water

¼ tsp Turmeric with a pinch of black pepper

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

½ -1 tsp of the turmeric paste I made for my Bulletproof Turmeric #2 recipe

You can also empty the contents of supplement capsules into the smoothie such as probiotics, amino acids, and herbal supplements. Basically any that doesn’t make the smoothie taste strange.

Make it something delicious that you love to drink and enjoy some vibrant days this summer.

Herbs of the Ozarks

I believe that if we know the local herbs in any region well enough, we can rely on them nearly exclusively to treat most common complaints. This holds true for the Ozark region, where many classic American herbs grow and many introduced species also tend to flourish. In fact, the Ozarks are part of the native range for herbs in very high demand—like goldenseal and American ginseng.

Another well-known plant from this part of the country is black cohosh. This herb is found in nearly every blend for menopausal symptoms, but it is most effective for women that have a particular constellation of symptoms, such as hot flashes, depression, and achy muscles or joints. Studies are showing that black cohosh may reduce the hormone surges associated with hot flashes. Black cohosh might also have constituents that act similarly to the medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which could explain its possible mood benefits. Furthermore, black cohosh also has pain-relieving attributes that make it an ideal herb to choose for discomfort and complaints not related to menopause. It contains analgesic and inflammation modulating constituents that make it a promising consideration for joint and muscle pains. Women can use it to address menstrual cramps because it relaxes smooth muscles, such as those found in the uterus. Black cohosh is also an herbal option for men who have low back and knee pain, especially if they also have prostate issues or are under a lot of stress.

 Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA SCS. 1991. Southern wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. South National Technical Center, Fort Worth.


Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA SCS. 1991. Southern wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. South National Technical Center, Fort Worth.

Japanese honeysuckle is a plant that is probably known to every Arkansan, but few know about its health benefits. Japanese honeysuckle isn’t native to the Ozarks. It was introduced and is now invasive, but one way to combat invasive plants is to harvest them for herbal medicine. The flowers of Japanese honeysuckle are antimicrobial, antiviral, inflammation modulating, and mildly detoxifying. The most common traditional use of honeysuckle flowers is as a component of Chinese herbal blends for colds and flu. A modern use of honeysuckle flowers is as an addition to pharmaceutical or herbal antimicrobial agents to increase their effectiveness. Additionally, Japanese honeysuckle flowers can help block the pumps that harmful bacteria use to disseminate the antimicrobial agents out of themselves. Apart from supplementation, Honeysuckle flowers are also mildly cooling and can make a refreshing summertime iced tea.

So we don’t necessarily have to search exotic lands for our medicinal herbs. Instead we can use our local plants provided by Mother Nature to help our environment and ourselves.

And you can check out my recent appearance on a local Harrison TV station talking about some other common herbs found here in the Ozarks.

Motherwort for Menopause and More

As I have said before about menopause, no every herbs works equally well for every woman. We have to look at the unique attributes of each herb and compare them to the experience of each menopausal woman. The herb I wanted to highlight today is motherwort. As the name implies this is a useful plant for mothers. Particularly, it is used for overworked mother who could use some mothering themselves. Among its other attributes, motherwort is calming and soothing to the nerves. It can help with insomnia due to anxiety, which I frequently see in mothers and other patients. Motherwort can also be useful as part of a protocol for hot flashes, but it is more likely to help those where anxiety and insomnia are also part of the picture.

Motherwort

As we begin to go through menopausal changes, our menstrual cycle among other things can go haywire. Premenstrual symptoms that we haven’t had since our teenage years can return or completely new symptoms can arise. Motherwort can be useful here too. Motherwort can help relieve premenstrual tension and discomfort. Most menstrual cramps are partially due to inadequate circulation in the pelvis. Motherwort may help calm menstrual pain by both reducing spasms in the uterus and improving blood flow to the pelvis. Motherwort might work best for cramps that are accompanied by a scant menstrual flow and again where anxiety or stress is part of the picture. Motherwort needs to be used for several months for the best benefit. But please don’t let the name motherwort mislead you into thinking this is an herb for pregnant women. It is not recommended during pregnancy since it can cause uterine contractions.

Black Cohosh for Perimenopausal Symptoms

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to natural interventions for relief of menopausal symptoms. This is partially due to the fact that not every intervention is useful for every woman. What helps one woman might not be effective for her sister. The intervention needs to be matched to the unique symptom picture of the woman. A good example of this is black cohosh. This herb is found in nearly every blend for menopausal symptoms, but this herb isn’t the one that will help everyone. It is most likely to help women that have a particular constellation of symptoms, such as hot flashes, depression, and achy muscles or joints. Studies are showing that black cohosh may reduce the hormone surges associated with hot flashes. Black cohosh might also have constituents that act similarly to the medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which could explain its possible mood benefits. In addition to this, studies on SSRIs for menopausal symptoms showed a reduction in the number of hot flashes.

Black cohosh also has pain-relieving attributes that make it an herb to choose for complaints not related to menopause. It has analgesic and inflammation modulating constituents that make it a consideration for joint and muscle pain. It can relax muscles and help with muscle spasms. It can be used for women with menstrual cramps because it relaxes smooth muscles such as in the uterus. Again, the herb is more matched to women who have the combination of cramps, mood issues, and body pain. It may also help with headaches that are related to hormonal issues. Black cohosh is also an herbal option for men who have low back and knee pain, especially if they also have prostate issues or a lot of stress. Side effects are occasionally reported with black cohosh. The most common one is a headache that can be alleviated by adding ginger.