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The Wisdom of Menopause - The complete guide to creating physical and emotional health and healing

by Dr Christiane Northrup

listed in women's health

[Image: The Wisdom of Menopause - The complete guide to creating physical and emotional health and healing]

Dr Northrup's latest tome (>550 pages) adds another hefty book to my menopause bookshelf, which is already laden with an assortment of variably weighty books, The Change by Germaine Greer, (Hamish Hamilton, 1991); Passage to Power by Leslie Kenton (Ebury Press 1995); What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Menopause by John R Lee, MD (Warner Books 1996); Natural Alternatives to HRT by Marilyn Glenville, Ph.D. (Kyle Cathie 1997); Menopause Naturally by Kitty Campion (Newleaf, 1998); Holistic Menopause by Judy Hall and Dr Robert Jacobs (Findhorn Press, 1998) and Cruising through the Menopause by Maryon Stewart (Vermilion, 2000), to name but a few.

Dr Northrup is the author of the immensely revered Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, (Piatkus Books, 1995), and, following Oprah Winfrey's endorsement that this book had changed her life, The Wisdom of Menopause reached the top of the US national best-sellers list within two weeks of publication.

This book covers a huge swathe of subject matter, ranging from the author's personal and at times esoteric meanderings about relationships, consultations with her Tarot deck included, to highly medical treatments of surgery, fibroids, causes and treatments for incontinence, cosmetic, skin and body hair problems, sex and libido issues, as well as the huge assortments of drug and 'natural' types of hormones available, foods, herbs and nutritional supplements for the menopause (not a major part of this book), and excellent sections about building healthy bones, protecting your heart and creating breast health.

The book is well referenced, although I found it annoying that although there was a UK editor, many of the resources and references listed were American and not English.

That Dr Northrup is a medical doctor is both a strength and a weakness, in my opinion, with this book. Some of the nutritional advice she provides is somewhat quirky and personal to her situation, in my opinion (to limit grains, to eliminate dairy products, that it is acceptable to drink the occasional fizzy drinks), and she suggests that taking aspirin as a heart protective is ok (subject to several contraindications), as well as citing research that Fosamax appears to increase spine and hip bone mass and to reduce the risk of spinal fractures and thus may be appropriate for women at risk of osteoporosis who cannot or will not take other medications to build bone mass. Leading natural menopause pioneer Dr John Lee is scathing about drugs such as Fosamax.

I found annoying and couldn't relate to some of Dr Northrup's psychospiritual interpretations of how certain physical symptoms were actually wake-up calls; she actually recounted the break-up of her own marriage, as well as the growth and eventual surgery on her fibroids, and attempted to generalize such situations.

I found it disappointing that, compared to Maryon Stewart and Marilyn Glenville's books above, so little of this book were devoted to nutritional and herbal medicine, although there were many mentions of these approaches, as well as acupuncture, throughout some of the case studies.

I guess that one of the problems that arises when an author achieves a degree of fame is that people want to know what she does, how she tackles certain situations. Hence, there is, for my taste, too much of Dr Northrup's personal story embedded within this book. However, the sections about building healthy bones and protecting your heart were exceptionally lucid and some of the best arguments regarding the benefits of exercise, healthy nutrition and natural approaches I have read.

My verdict overall is that this book is worth adding to your shelf, but that it also needs to be mingled with the others in the field, if you wish more practical nutritional and herbal advice to cope with menopausal symptoms.

Sandra Goodman PhD
Piatkus Books
0-7499 2214-1

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