Read an Excerpt
Your Second Spring
THIS MAY BE A HEALTH BOOK FOR WOMEN to use at any age. You may be 35 and experiencing low energy, 50 and going through menopausal brain fog, or 75 and waking up each morning with arthritic pain. The good news is that, whatever your age, I will show you the ways to regenerate and revitalize. Welcome to your Second Spring.
I was inspired to write this book by watching my mother go through her middle years. Other women of her generation retired with their husbands and turned away from the world, but this was not her way. My mother energized and revitalized herself with Chinese medicine and refashioned her purpose in life. With her new freedom and the perspective of long experience, she turned her attention to interests that had developed gradually during her householding years. I looked on in admiration as she became a minister in her religious organization and turned her home into a temple to serve her community. In our family, my father, a doctor, was the public face of Chinese wisdom and tradition, while my mother, with all her character and dignity, was a modest woman who remained within the domestic sphere. Yet her personal transformation taught me more about human potential than I have learned from any other individual. It called into question the very concept of aging.
How do you feel about your age? Do you value yourself as you are? Your health at any point of your life depends on both your physical condition and your emotional attitudes about yourself and your life.
You can look and feel younger than your actual years and move through perimenopause, menopause, and beyond with grace, youthfulness, vitality, and health. Aging does not have to be a downhill slide. This book can help you achieve all this naturally without drugs, hormone replacement, or invasive surgery. How? Through the wisdom of Chinese medicine, which is sensitive to all aspects of a woman's life cycle and understands that every phase affords opportunities to slow or reverse the aging process. This powerful tradition, integrated with Western medicine, can produce the optimum outcome for each individual.
On the emotional plane, Chinese tradition offers a paradigm completely different from the Western vision of midlife and aging. To the Chinese, this is the time when a woman truly comes into her own, when the distractions of the householding, childbearing, and child-rearing years wind down and her inner beauty emerges. A mature woman is a work of art crafted by her experiences and her own inner resources. She now refines her wisdom and finds traditional or inventive ways to make it useful in the world. Far from ceasing to grow, she embarks on a new path of self-realization.
Secrets to Our Success
At the Tao of Wellness, my brother Dr. Daoshing Ni and I, along with our team of associates, have helped thousands of women over the last 25 years. Our success is attributable to three factors. First, women have always been the cornerstone of Chinese society. From its inception thousands of years ago, Chinese medicine has developed a comprehensive specialty in women's health that is unrivaled in the world. Second, we draw on a profound knowledge base in women's health care, passed down through 38 continuous generations of doctors in our family. The third and most important ingredient is our patients' trust in our care and eagerness to do their part. Their willingness to inhabit new ideas and behaviors allows us to coach them through their Second Spring and help each one individually to reclaim her personal and sexual vigor.
Women's Cycles and Regeneration at Each Stage
Biologically, the ultimate purpose of human life, as with all living creatures on our planet, is reproduction, to pass on our genes from one generation to another. So, it is no surprise that, when you reach reproductive maturity, the organism's vitality starts to wane. This biological decline is programmed to begin in women around age 35. Of course, you can still live a long and fulfilling life, free from illness and disability, after that age, but you may benefit from some help with the changes your mind, body, and spirit will go through.
Menopause signifies the end of a woman's menstrual cycle and a major turning point in her life. Every woman's experience with it is unique. Most women stop menstruating between the ages of 48 and 52, but uncomfortable symptoms of perimenopause the premenopausal period can begin as early as 35 and last into menopause and beyond. Some women go through perimenopause in two to three years, but for others it lasts as long as 12 or 15 years. It may start with an irregular menstrual cycle along with an increase in premenstrual symptoms or PMS.
As you get closer to menopause and the cessation of your menstruation, new and more extreme effects appear, which can include hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain, and vaginal dryness. For the Chinese, menopause connotes the emptying of the conception channel and the depletion of the fertility essence, but it is also a time for generation of a new vital energy and the ripening of identity. Chinese medicine, attuned to every phase of a woman's reproductive cycle, uses methods tested by time and tradition to reinvigorate the body and mind at each stage.
The Second Spring: Rebirth at Midlife
With its intimate understanding of the female body, Chinese traditional medicine has always addressed the special needs of women throughout their lives, including conception, pregnancy, and childbearing as well as the onset of menopause. In fact, the wisdom about regeneration during menopause is so well recognized that there is a term for it: Second Spring. A woman's Second Spring is the renaissance of youthful vitality and sexual vigor she enjoys when she takes advantage of the secrets and natural powers of Chinese medicine. When the body begins to undergo the changes that take her through perimenopause, menopause, and beyond, in the Chinese perspective this is a time for celebration in a woman's life, when she is possessed of wisdom and graceful beauty. This positive outlook on aging stands in stark contrast to the Western stigma against growing old. Second Spring describes an important opportunity for self-discovery and renewal in women's lives.
As you move toward menopause and beyond, your body produces less of the essential hormones, mainly estrogen and progesterone, that maintain the health of your bones and the elasticity of your blood vessels and skin. Of the many consequences, osteoporosis and heart disease are the two conditions most emphasized by the Western medical community, but quality-of-life issues such as wrinkled skin, lower vitality, and decreased libido can also become disheartening and affect other aspects of health. Emotionally, some Western women dread menopause as a loss of youth and fertility. To add to the physical challenges, in our youth-obsessed society menopause often means the beginning of an unspoken social devaluation for a woman.
But the truth is that no one need be a helpless victim to this phase of life. With the guidance of Chinese medicine, every woman can turn these changes into an empowering experience of rejuvenation.
The Western Medical Approach to Women's Health, Menopause, and Beyond
Women's health needs during and after menopause have been addressed quite differently by the Western medical establishment than by Eastern traditions and integrative medical approaches. In the mid-19th century, a menopausal woman suffering hot flashes, depression, and painful, irregular periods would sometimes undergo a hysterectomy surgical removal of the uterus on the misconception that this organ was the source of women's physical and mental problems. Although doctors' understanding of these matters changed, the rate of hysterectomies remained high, and a large percentage of the operations were later found to be unnecessary.
In the past 40 years, Western medicine's solution for menopause has been the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Its greatest popularizer was a gynecologist named Robert Wilson, whose outlook revealed more than a little sexism and ageism. He called menopause a "living decay." Supplemental estrogen, he and others insisted, was the ultimate answer.
Belief in the benefits of long-term HRT became entrenched in the medical community and among women of menopausal age. Doctors who delved into the issue more closely, however, were often surprised to learn how thin the evidence really was. Finally, in 2002, after decades of routine hormone replacement therapy, the landmark Women's Health Initiative made front-page headlines all over the country, and the news wasn't good. The study proved conclusively that HRT with a common blend of estrogen and progestin, when used for more than four years, increased women's risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots. Further studies confirmed that the risks of long-term HRT outweigh the benefits.
Chinese medicine has long recognized that the body is fully capable of regenerating and that supporting the natural production of all the essential hormones through natural means is safe, effective, and sustainable over a woman's lifetime. In other words, teach your body to rejuvenate itself instead of replacing your body's natural abilities.
Start Now to Create Your Personal Second Spring
It's important to get ready for the changes ahead. By making 11 certain lifestyle, dietary, and mental adaptations now, you can avoid unnecessary suffering now and down the road. For instance, perimenopause may begin two years earlier in a woman who smokes than in one who doesn't. So don't be a victim of your own inaction start preparing for your Second Spring right away. The advice in this book takes minimal effort to implement, but your rewards will be substantial.
In this guide, you will learn why Second Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal and how you, too, can experience a smooth transition, empowered by natural, time-honored practices. In the chapters that follow, you will learn many tips relating to diet, herbal therapy, exercises, meditation practices, acupressure, beauty, and lifestyle that will aid you in your personal Second Spring. You will find your own path to becoming young, sexy, and revitalized, and begin to blossom into a new phase of your life.
Your future is in your hands, and by happy coincidence, so is this book. Let me invite you to make the most of both. May you live long, live strong, and live happy.
Text copyright © 2009 by Dr. Maoshing Ni All Rights Reserved