Help for Menopause

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By: Alicia Landman-Reiner, M.D.
Christine Murphy, editor of LILIPOH, interviewed Alicia Landman-Reiner, M.D. on a radio talk show November 1997.

Q: Alicia, tell us how you became interested in anthroposophy.

A: I was taking premed courses in college when my mother became quite ill. This experience of a family member receiving standard medical care stopped me in my premedical tracks. I felt she was not being addressed as an individual human being. So I took time off from my studies and went out into the world on a search for a more comprehensive and human approach. Eventually I came to work at a school for developmentally delayed children called Camphill Village in Pennsylvania. 1 There I encountered anthroposophical medicine and its thera­pies. It included nursing, movement and art therapy as well as the doctor's care. I was very inspired by this and felt I had found the answer to how medicine, with all its technical prowess and sparkle, could be more ensouled and humanized.

Q: So, that gave you the courage to go on with your regular medical train­ing. Were you able to study both at the same time?

A: In a way yes, although in the 70's no one had heard of anthroposophical medicine and so I kept it very private, if not secretive; it just was not acceptable at the time. But I would go to anthro­posophical medical confer­ences, and after my residency I went to Switzerland and did the training for doctors there, and in a parallel way worked in a doctor's of­fice. And so, piece by piece, I trained myself. to learn the anthroposophical method.

Q: How is that for you now, in your practice - do only certain people come?

A: It is quite a variety of people looking for a combination that is both standard medicine and an extended approach which might include herbs or body work or massage or artistic therapy.
Most of my patients just want to take a bit of a broader view, or want something more natural. They are from all walks of 'life and are really pleased to be open about their interest with their doctor.

Q: Would you say women are the forerunners in this way of think­ing?

A: Yes. It seems on the whole that women have an easier flexibility about combining medical approaches. They come and they bring their children. Later the husbands and partners come and say, "She sent me."

Q: Could you tell us a little about your special interest in menopause?

A: Women in mid-life are beginning to look at themselves as halfway through a life that is going to be rich and varied on both sides of the midway point. They are very open in their questions. In my mother's day menopause was a topic one could not even mention.

Q: What are the most prevalent symptoms of menopause?

A: Certainly hot flashes; they can be quite uncomfortable and challenging. Some women pass through this time with nary a hot flash, other women have them up to every 45 minutes. Some experience dryness in the vaginal tissues or difficulty in sleeping, others hardly notice any­thing.

Q: What about emotional problems?

A: This is not part of the spectrum, but rather a reactions to the symptoms or to the way in which menopause is re­garded.

Q: In what ways would you help women suffering the transitional symp­toms of menopause?

A: There are so many wonderful remedies and approaches to help allevi­ate these. In anthroposophical medicine one of the main remedies is Aurum (gold). Of course it is given as a homeopathic remedy in a 20-30X potency. Then there are many herbs women can use on their own.

Stinging nettle can be made into a nutritive tea and also helps counteract drying tissue. So does oat straw tea. El­der flowers as tea or tincture are very useful. Domquai, a kind of angelica, is very successful for hot flashes.

Plantain ointment, or plantain-cal­endula ointment can be very soothing topically for dryness. Really nourishing oneself is important too; fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Coffee and alcohol be­come more problematic.

Women should avoid trying to arrest or reverse the symptoms of menopause with medications, but rather help the body on to a new phase.

Q: Are you saying estrogen medi­cation, for example, keeps a woman bound to a previous stage of develop­ment?

A: In our culture physical aging is seen as negative and this view will affect the feelings of well-being women have. But menopause is not a disease. Accept­ing it reflects back on health. Women are ready to hear this.

Q: Could you say more about the remedy Aurum?

A: Both heart and uterus are con­nected with whole nature of gold. I should mention that in anthroposophical medicine the metals are related to the organs and to the planets. It is always very spe­cial when gold is used; it comes from the sun. The heart and the uterus are re­lated in a very special way, even in their physical struc­ture. When a woman is self­lessly creative in the commu­nity she is working with her heart, or gold, forces.

Q: What happens if someone gets stuck in menopausal phenomena, what can help to pull her out?

A: Something to read. It is helpful to know what's available and what expe­riences others have. I recommend three books:

Dina Taylor; Women of the 14th Moon (women are in menopause after the period has been missed for more than 13 moons).

Sasha Greenwood; Menopause Natu­rally (friendly sensible advice, dietary advice),

Christine Northrup; Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom.

Of course, if a woman experiences severe symptoms that don't respond at home she should check in with a doctor who is oriented to home- or natural rem­edies, who can talk with her in detail about her symptoms and give her help with them

Q: Any closing thoughts?

A: Transitions can be awkward or painful, whether adolescence or menopause, and one must make one's way through. But the journey is well worth it because a new kind of growth, on a new level, becomes possible. The second half of a woman's life is like the flower and fruit in a plant. For them to appear the former burgeoning leafy growth has to come to an end. The reproductive forces, specially crafted for the reproductive period, transform themselves at menopause, making way for a higher kind of soul birth--a new creativity.

Alicia Landman-Reiner, M.D.
Northampton, MA
Practice of family medicine.

"I prefer working in a conventional therapeutic setting, with the anthroposophical approach and remedies shining through. Also I am the consulting physician for the Hartsbrook Waldorf School, seeing my role as helping bring the anthroposophical image of the child. I lecture at U Mass and am currently writing a chapter on anthroposophical medicine for a complementary health textbook."


"You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen. But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your soul's own doing. "

- Marie Stopes, From Wit and Wisdom of Women by Margaret Neylon




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