Health
Winter 2017/18 issue

A helping hand

From puberty to menopause, women go through many different stages in their lives. In this women’s health special, Dr Jacqueline Mardon explains how homeopathy can be a gentle and steadfast friend by your side.

At a time when we’re supposed to have it all, modern life can be a challenge. For women juggling many different roles—successful working mother, loyal friend, devoted carer, for instance—the pressures of these demands can take their toll, both emotionally and physically. And, as we transition to different life stages, we also see changes in the rhythm and cycle to life as a woman. This can demand flexibility and resilience when time, support or resources are out of balance.

Homeopathy can be a holistic and sensitive way to echo and resonate with your own rhythms, supporting your physical, mental and emotional health to help you meet the many challenges of modern life.

Periods

There’s nothing more natural or normal than a woman’s menstrual cycle. A feature of life, they’re a symbol of a natural connection to rhythms and cycles. There’s no such thing as a “typical period”; the length and flow is very individual. While for some they’ll cause no bother at all, for others they can be troublesome. It’s common for them to be painful and make you feel irritable or have mood changes. In some cases, people feel so unwell they have to take time off work or school because of heavy menstrual blood loss, pain or tiredness.

Steps to relieve symptoms

There are some simple measures women can take during their period to help with side effects, including gentle physical activity like walking or stretching, as well as getting enough sleep and rest. Applying warmth and gentle pressure, such as with soothing oils to massage the stomach or lower back, or a hot water bottle or heat pad, can also offer some relief.

Others may be helped by homeopathy. Here are a couple out of many possible remedies which could support women. For any severe or long-lasting symptoms, talk to your GP or seek a homeopathic opinion in an individualised and personalised way.

Magnesium phosphoricum

When you have period pain with cramps that you want to press, which make you feel faint, you may respond well to the remedy Magnesium phosphoricum. With harmonising qualities, it can be good for spasms of pain in general, such as those experienced with irritable bowel syndrome. It can have quite a dramatic impact and can be taken as three doses (30c potency) mid-menstrual cycle, about two weeks before your period is due.

Cimicifuga

Pain associated with heavy menstrual blood loss, which may be dark with clots, can be helped by Cimicifuga (black cohosh). As there are a number of conditions and some treatments that can cause heavy periods, you should seek a personalised homeopathic opinion, after a more general health check from your GP.

Cimicifuga
Cimicifuga

Morning sickness

The news of discovering you’re pregnant often comes hand in hand with morning sickness, which causes vomiting in around half of all expectant mothers and nausea in more than 80% in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Unlike its name suggests, morning sickness can occur any time of the day and takes some of the shine off early pregnancy. While it’s very common, each woman’s experience of it can be different, which makes the tailored nature of homeopathy an ideal treatment.

Stress and a busy life can make nausea and sickness worse, so getting plenty of rest and both emotional and practical support can really help. If you’re unable to eat or drink properly, try sipping drinks like ginger tea or iced water and lemon or nibbling on snacks such as nuts or a ginger biscuit.

Homeopathy can be called on to provide some help if symptoms are persistent and difficult. Although caution must always be taken in pregnancy to avoid use of medicines unless prescribed or recommended by your doctor, homeopathy can be a safe and versatile option. In rare cases of severe vomiting, seek help and advice from your doctor or midwife.

Pulsatilla

A windflower that’s sensitive to its environment, Pulsatilla can help those with fragile emotions, who are frequently welling up, becoming tearful and needing support from those around them. Although they might feel unsure of what will help make them feel better, they like having someone nearby nonetheless.

They might feel easily overheated indoors or when they’re out and about, and will find busy shops unbearable and stuffy. In addition, they’ll feel the need to walk and get fresh air from open windows. People who suit this remedy may also feel headachy.

Nux vomica

Better known as the remedy to turn to when you’ve overindulged in rich food or alcohol and are suffering from a hangover or indigestion, Nux vomica can also be excellent for pregnancy sickness and nausea.

Nux vomica
Nux vomica

It’s particularly helpful to those who feel their symptoms are at their worst when they wake in the morning; or for people who may feel hungry and want to eat but doing so makes them feel even worse. If you’re suited to this remedy you’ll feel very chilly and irritable, as if you have very little patience, and things like lights, noises or even other people will get on your nerves. You may also feel constipated.

Tabaccum

This remedy may be helpful for women who find they really dislike even the slightest smell of cigarette smoke, such as on someone else’s clothing. It may be that the person used to smoke themselves and the early signs of pregnancy might remind them of the nausea that’s experienced by smokers.

In addition, they’ll experience motion sickness when they’re travelling in a car or on any public transport. In these situations they’ll need the window to be open or they’ll have an intense feeling of needing to stop and get out.

Menopause

A life phase that begins when the menstrual cycle ends, the menopause marks a time of transition for women. Often an event that’s obscured by other life events, such as children “coming of age” and leaving home, work pressures or difficulties in relationships, the menopause generally occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. It can be a gradual shift, barely recognisable, or more dramatic.

For many, the menopause can be a liberating time of change and adjustment. But with physical symptoms including flushing and sweating—“hot flushes”—trouble sleeping and a low sex drive, it can also be a difficult time. Some women struggle emotionally too; in a youth-obsessed culture it can be hard to feel positively about a transition in life that comes with age.

Interestingly, studies suggest the symptoms of a menopause vary greatly, depending on the culture you belong to. For example, in Asia, where the menopause is a celebrated stage of life, synonymous with freedom and respect, reports of symptoms like hot flushes are very rare.

Lachesis

The remedy Lachesis is a hot and vigorous remedy—well suited to those experiencing flushes of heat and temperament, perhaps with some outbursts provoked by jealousy. This remedy is generally suited to a chatty, vocal person, who is sociable and inquisitive.

Sourced from the venom of the bushmaster snake, Lachesis can benefit women experiencing menopausal symptoms with a particular pattern, like feeling worse on waking in the morning. People who suit this remedy might find wearing certain clothes really uncomfortable, especially those that are tight and/or cover the throat or waist.

Sepia

Another remedy from the animal kingdom, Sepia comes from the ink of cuttlefish, which dances and billows in its sea home. This remedy may suit those who feel tired, rather jaded and lacking interest, perhaps in their sexual, intimate and other relationships, and who are finding family responsibilities overwhelming.

Sepia
Sepia

Flushes might be frequent with a shivery feeling afterwards. There could also be irritability, in particular towards loved ones, along with low mood and sadness. You might also be tearful and want to be consoled, but won’t feel satisfied when you are. People who might benefit from this remedy will feel most in their element when doing strenuous exercise, such as gym classes or long-distance running.

Mental health

While depression can affect people regardless of their gender, women are one and a half times more likely to suffer with the condition than men. The symptoms vary widely but feeling sad, hopeless and losing interest in the things you used to enjoy are often experienced by people with depression. Women who are pregnant, have just given birth and the elderly are most commonly affected.

Depression
Depression

Depression can be a very serious condition, so it’s important to seek expert help from your GP or further specialised help. However, there can be a role for homeopathy to play in providing appropriate support too.

Natrum muriaticum

Derived from sea salt, the remedy Natrum muriaticum might suit people who want to be left alone. In public, they’ll put on a brave face and will be the person who others tend to confide in because of their empathic and sensitive nature. In private they’ll shed tears, with only a few–perhaps a partner or close friends—knowing how they suffer internally. Life stages may be provoking factors for these individuals, particularly if they did not have a close bond with their own mother, and they may carry a sense of guilt, sorrow and feel unfulfilled.

It can be wonderful to see this remedy and the right support helping women suffering with depression to reconnect with their feelings and the feminine sense of self, with the outcome often being a softer person who is more in touch with their emotions.

Ignatia

When the remedy Ignatia is considered in depression, the woman may have experienced loss or shock such as bereavement, a relationship ending, miscarriage or dashed hopes such as failed infertility treatment, which she is trying to come to terms with. She may be feeling numb or “going through the motions”, with an aching sense of heaviness around the heart or tightening in the throat. There may be seemingly uncontrollable weeping, sighing or variability in mood.

This remedy can sometimes be an important early step in overcoming difficulties, but it can also be a support when coping with ongoing loss or if challenging life events have happened one after another.

Urinary tract infections

Another health ailment not exclusively but more commonly experienced by women than men is urinary tract infections (UTI) like cystitis. Triggered by a number of factors, including sex and dehydration among others, UTIs affect an estimated four million women a year in the UK.

Symptoms can include needing to urgently urinate, a sudden unexpected loss of control of the bladder, burning pain while passing urine, and a hot and unpleasant feeling over the bladder area above the pubic bone, even passing through the back and into the area of the kidneys. You can also feel shivery and generally off colour, out of sorts, queasy or squeamish, and you might have a temperature.

Staphysagria

Delphinium
Delphinium

A remedy from the beautiful blue delphinium flower, Staphysagria can be helpful for “honeymoon” cystitis. Not at all romantic, this UTI is related to sexual activity, if there has been an injury or trauma in the genital area such as surgery, or after childbirth.