An in-depth guide for women integrating both recent medical science and natural therapies for optimum health and energy at any age
• Shares the scientifically proven benefits of forest bathing, mindfulness, heart-centered meditation, essential oils, herbs, energy medicine, sound healing, and Ayurveda
• Offers holistic, woman-centered discussions of female reproductive health, including menopause, PMS, endometriosis, pregnancy, postpartum issues, and sexual health
• Explains how best to incorporate holistic treatments into your self-care routine for more energy, hormonal balance, cellular repair, and mental and emotional health
In this hands-on guide to natural health for women, Sebhia Marie Dibra draws from recent medical studies and alternative modalities to present a comprehensive, holistic understanding of female biology and physiology at all stages of life and the most effective treatments and therapies to help you reach optimum health and energy levels at any age.
Explaining how we are each connected to nature, Dibra shows how consciousness practices such as forest bathing, mindfulness, and heart-centered meditation have benefits proven by neuroscience. She reveals the key connections between the GI system and the psycho-neuro-immunologic system of the mind-body, stressing the importance of digestive function in women’s health, especially in cases of depression and anxiety. She provides guidance on intermittent fasting and holistic nutrition for more energy, hormonal balance, cellular repair, and mental and emotional health, as well as advice on safe and effective supplements, herbs, and essential oils. Presenting results from recent clinical studies, alongside natural alternatives, she offers in-depth and nuanced discussions of female reproductive health, including the menstrual cycle, menopause, PMS, pregnancy, postpartum issues, and the full spectrum of sexual health. She examines health conditions from a woman-centered perspective, such as fibroids, osteoporosis, and thyroid disease, and explains how best to incorporate energy medicine, sound healing, Ayurveda, and bodywork into your routine.
Highlighting the advantages of a holistic and natural approach, Dibra decodes the complexity of women’s health from puberty to post-menopause, giving each woman a self-care toolkit to make informed decisions about her health and well-being at any age.
In 2017 neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified the brain circuit necessary for memory formation. This new finding challenges the previous model of memory formation occurring solely in the hippocampus (and then the memory moving from there). Memories are formed simultaneously in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. In the longterm storage location of the brain’s cortex the memories in the cells of the cortex are “silent” for two weeks before maturing (Kitamura et al. 2017).
Being in nature helps women’s brain systems with consolidation of memory. Researchers at the University of Michigan gave students a fleeting memory test and then divided the participants into two groups. One group took a walk around an arboretum and the other half took a walk down a city street. When the participants returned and repeated the test, those who had wandered among trees did nearly 20 percent better than they had on the first memory test. The students who had taken in city views did not consistently develop their short-term memory (Berman, Jonides, and Kaplan 2008). A related study on depressed individuals also found that walks in nature boosted working memory significantly compared to walks in urban surroundings (Berman et al. 2012). Physical activity in green environments can both prevent and treat depression as well as increase short-term memory.
A study published in 2010 in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias shows that long-suffering dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are known to have decreased symptoms following time in nature (Jarrott & Gigliotti 2010). Landscape architects are designing therapeutic gardens and green environments for use in nursing homes, hospitals, and work-related spaces. These innovative spaces not only decrease symptoms in women suffering from neurological disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s, they also reduce the stress and anxiety of the caretakers in these facilities.
Many women today report feelings of un-centeredness and dizziness with reduced clarity, attention, and focus--what researchers call brain fog, or mental fatigue. A profound way to restore mental clarity and focus is being immersed in restorative green environments. One study found that women’s mental energy increased even when simply looking at pictures of nature.
The frontal lobe, the part of our brain that’s hyper-engaged in modern life, deactivates when outside. Alpha waves, which indicate a calm but alert state, grow stronger and connect to the energy that is found in nature. Meditation is also great at engaging alpha waves. Thus, pairing brain and body exercises such as meditation and running in nature is significantly beneficial. Transcendental Meditation has been heavily researched and shown to reduce crime, violence, and negative behavior in the general area where the meditation takes place. Likewise, proximity to nature corresponds to lower murder and crime rates, which should influence more green spaces to be prominent in city environments (Kuo & Sullivan 2001).
Mental illness and negative thoughts worsen without nature (Berman 2012). A group of researchers from Stanford University think the green effect might have something to do with reducing rumination, or as the researchers state, “a maladaptive pattern of self-referential thought that is associated with heightened risk for depression and other mental illnesses.” Rumination is what happens when women get remarkably sad and can’t stop thinking about negative beliefs, concepts, and situations in their life. Rumination is shown to be increased activity in a brain region called the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a narrow band in the lower part of the brain that regulates negative emotions. If rumination continues for too long unregulated, depression can develop. The Stanford researchers chose to study city dwellers, predicting they would have “a somewhat elevated level of rumination resulting from the ongoing and chronic stressors associated with the urban experience.” (Bratman, Hamilton, Hahn, Daily & Gross, 2015).
Women and men report significantly different reactions to stress. Women can find stress relief in all aspects of nature--the sight of the mountains, the feel of the grass, the smell of the air full of rich oxygen and electrons, the calming sounds of crickets chirping and water flowing. The entire experience brings about change in physical and mental health. It is not isolating bits of nature into city environments that has the most measurable effect in health and mental health (Journal of Environmental Psychology 1995 and 2005; Psychological Science 2012).
One study found that students who spent two nights in a forest had lower levels of cortisol, the hormone often used as a marker for stress, in contrast to those who spent the same period in urban or city surroundings. In another study researchers found a decrease in both heart rate and levels of cortisol in subjects in the forest when compared to those in the city. The researchers concluded that stressful states can be relieved by forest therapy (Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 2007; Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine 2010; Japanese Journal of Hygiene 2011; Biomedical and Environmental Sciences 2012).
In the workplace, a recent study showed a reduction in employee stress when the employees spent time outside (Largo-Wight, Chen, Dodd, & Weiler 2011). The view of nature out a window is also associated with lower stress and higher job satisfaction. Even looking at nature photos and images on mobile devices has shown some benefit.
In another study women who spent time in the forest had lower levels of inflammation than those who spent time in urban environments. In a study published in the Journal of Cardiology elderly women sent on a week-long trip into the forest showed reduced signs of inflammation and a positive effect on their hypertension (Biomedical and EnvironmentalSciences 2012; Journal of Cardiology 2012). The health effects of green space are numerous and even studies that can’t prove causeand-effect still show strong associations between access to nature and longer, healthier lives for women.
Sebhia Marie Dibra contributes a 21st-century perspective on energetics and spiritual dimensions to health and wellness issues, including life cycle and healthy aging. Coauthor of Common Pain Conditions with Marc Micozzi, among other publications, she is on the editorial board of the European Journal of Physics Education and is a biofeedback retreat facilitator at the Academy of Wellness.