by Dr. Isabel Sharkar, ND
What has been passed down to us from our mothers and grandmothers about the sacred feminine and taking care of our female organs? How many of us have been taught to honor and embrace our menstrual (moon) cycles? Most of us view our moon cycle as a nuisance—wishing it to be over and done with. Many of us have forgotten the ancient wisdom and healing that comes each month. Our cycles represent shedding the old and welcoming the new—with introspection and intuition.
The actual word “menstruation” comes from the Greek root word “men”, which means month and menus –which denotes both moon and power. With the rise of patriarchal societies around the world, the feminine has been slowly stripped from her moon power as she endures more masculine traits. Regardless, there’s nothing more powerful than having women in close proximity sync their moon cycles together.
The menstrual cycle and the lunar (moon) cycle are both of 28 days and women’s cycles were influenced by natural moonlight. Moonlight provided an important synchronizing signal called “zeitgebers”, which is lost in our modern-day society with household electricity and indoor living. A zeitgeber is a cue given by the environment, such as a change in light or temperature, to reset the internal body clock. Sleeping under the moonlight is an old folk remedy for women experiencing irregular cycles to sync back up with the moon.
Like the four seasons, a woman’s moon cycle also goes through four stages.
Days one through seven mark the beginning of your moon cycle, which begins with the first day of bleeding. The heaviness of PMS lifts as the estrogen level rises and drops, stimulating the hypothalamus to prepare for another cycle of ovulation. During this time, the shedding of the uterine lining symbolizes cleansing and removing negative thoughts and emotions that have accumulated throughout the month.
This phase is marked by high intuition and clarity, and is great for self-analysis and course correction. Are you on the right track and what can you do to get there? Use food and medicine to restore the blood and kidneys, and increase iron and zinc levels. The best type of movement during the moon phase is walking, stretching, restorative Yin yoga, rest and recovery. Go inward, be silent, reflect on the month you had and honor your femininity.
Days seven through 14 is the pre-ovulation or follicular phase, where the ovaries are stimulated to release another egg. Estrogen increases and allows for thickening of the uterine lining. During this phase, women feel at their energetic best—like like rebirth post the moon phase where you feel refreshed and enlivened. This is the time for new beginnings like projects and creative work. Eat fresh, vibrant and light foods like salads, lean proteins, sprouted beans and seeds, avocados and foods that sustain your energy. Challenging workouts and physical activity are recommended.
Days 14 to 21 is the phase of ovulation. An increase in Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) occurs, allowing for one follicle to swell and burst, releasing an egg into one fallopian tube. The egg travels to the uterus and waits. This is the phase a woman is most fertile and is naturally more social and involved in her community. She takes better care of herself to look and feel good. Women during this phase are said to be more physically attractive. Fiber, vegetables and low carbs are important during this time. Exercise continues to be strong during this phase with high intensity workouts and weight training.
Days 21 through 28 is the luteal phase before the moon cycle. FSH and LH are stopped, while estrogen and progesterone rise. When progesterone halts, the moon cycle is triggered. During the luteal phase, physical energy declines, while PMS, mood swings and cravings may occur. The body needs comfort and to nest.
Clean your home, take better care of your body, take long baths and slow down socially. Eating foods rich in B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and fiber are helpful. Fiber helps the liver and large intestines flush out estrogen. Roasting or baking vegetables increases their sugar content, which helps stabilize serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain and helps prevent mood swings. Toward the second half of the luteal phase it is helpful to switch from strenuous activity toward Pilates, yoga and walking.
Embracing these four phases of your moon cycle will help you learn to work with your body instead against it. You will gain deeper insight and connection with yourself, the way we are meant. The female body is a beautiful masterpiece to be loved, nurtured and adored.
Dr. Isabel Sharkar is a licensed naturopathic physician and co-owner of Indigo Integrative Health Clinic, in Georgetown. For more information, call 202-298-9131 or visit IndigoHealthClinic.com.