The Taoists, an ancient wisdom tradition from China, believe that a woman’s life force flows from her ovaries.
When a female child is born, her ovaries are formed and within them contain all the possible lives she may birth during her life. This means the ovum from which you received half of your DNA grew inside your grandmother’s body. Like life moments cocooned within memories, ovaries carry knowledge of other times and other places from when your grandmother carried your mother within her uterus.
In biology, there is a study called epigenetics that considers inherited traits that are not necessarily defined by one’s DNA.
Some who study epigenetics suggest that when an illness comes on at a young age (for instance, lung cancer at age 42 with no history of smoking, second hand smoke or being exposed to carcinogenic substances over an extended period of time), it may be beneficial to consider what was going on in the grandmother’s life during the time of her pregnancy with mom. There is speculation that unknown toxins or severe stresses in her life may dramatically influence the long term life force or DNA sequencing of not only her children’s lives, but also the lives of her grandchildren.
The First Nations people believe that one needs to consider the effects of one’s actions on seven generations into the future. This belief is used to express concern over the long-term effects on the environment. Considering the profound effect a grandmother’s life has on her grandchildren’s health, it is not such a stretch to see deeper implications of one’s activities on future generations.
During a cadaver anatomy class while I was in herb school, I was fortunate to see ovaries. They were like clams; delicate and complex in their smallness. Vulnerable.
One condition herbalists frequently treat is ovarian cysts. Cysts can interfere with ovulation and result in fertility challenges. Sometimes a woman will not have a fertility challenges, but the cysts are a source of extreme pain during ovulation and their period.
In either case, the herb chosen by herbalist to dissolve ovarian cysts: red root (ceanothus americanus). Red root is also called New Jersey Tea and it grows abundantly through out the States, Ontario and Quebec.
Another useful plant to support the wellness of a woman’s ovaries is partridge berry (mitchella repens). This is a plant that made it into contemporary herbalism via First Nations medicine.
Partridge berry is a plant that herbalists say “Removes congestion from the pelvis.” This includes both the ovaries and uterus. Ovarian cysts is a condition associated with congestion in the pelvis. The fluids of the body are not flowing in harmony, so congestion develops in the form of cysts.
Most herbalists notice eventually that a woman’s reproductive health is influenced in many ways, including ways of the heart. First Nations certainly understood when a young woman had a difficult time conceiving, she was offered partridge berry to help understand her husband.
Finally, I often use black cohosh (cimmicifuga racemosa) when a woman’s ovaries are tired and cranky.
Or should I say the woman describes herself as tired and cranky. European herbalists learned from First Nations healers. Cohosh in Algonquin means labour in English.
Black cohosh is a plant that encourages the body to produce progesterone. Progesterone is a calm, harmonious hormone that seeks a peaceful home life.
When a woman is overworked, overstressed and burning out, generally her ovaries take on some the stress, periods become irregular, heavy or non-existent and the black moods strike. This is a job for black cohosh.
Black cohosh combines well in tincture with red root and partridge berry to support the overall health and well-being of a woman and herb jewels of life force, her ovaries.
To learn more about female health of all ages and plant medicine, join me for a fundraising workshop at the Red Deer Museum on Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. The fundraiser is to support the art instillation called Walking with Our Sisters, a memorial to the missing and murder aboriginal woman in our country. For more information on the workshop, go to my website at www.abraherbs.com or www.walkingwithoursisters.ca/events/2015-2/red-deer/
Herbs for Life is written by Abrah Arneson, a local clinical herbalist. It is intended for information purposes only. Readers with a specific medical problem should consult a doctor. For more information, visit www.abraherbalist.ca. Arneson can be reached www.abraherbs.com.