Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Periods - They May Be 'Normal', But Are They Healthy?

It's a long one! And no pics (answers on a postcard as to what I could have included!). And when I use 'we' in the article, yes I mean women, but hopefully men will also find the subject matter of interest.

Disclaimer: not a doctor, not a scientist, just a raw fooder who blogs. Some of the suggestions in this article are radical. They may be shocking, or, at the least, seem a bit barmy. Some might cause offence. Some might even be considered dangerous. I'm just presenting an...alternative view of something that is considered 'normal' in our modern, 'developed' society, and that (we've been brought up to think) is therefore healthy.

This is what we've been taught about menstruation:
  • It occurs when an egg released from the ovary has not been fertilized.
  • It occurs approximately 14 days after ovulation.
  • There will be a flow of blood, and loss of womb lining.
  • The blood flow will last for a few days.

We are taught that periods as described above are normal, that it is normal to menstruate monthly, and that normal = healthy. We have been taught that it is right to be concerned if, in a woman of child-bearing age, monthly blood flow is absent or even if periods have become 'scant' (when not pregnant, that is).

We have been told that ideas emanating from ancient times of periods being bad things, eg that a period is a 'curse', or that women having periods are 'unclean', are wrong, and that these 'negative' interpretations of periods came about through a combination of ignorance, superstition and patriarchal societies. We are taught to 'embrace' menstruation, celebrate it as being a healthy and integral part of being a woman (and we support companies making millions from the sales of pads and tampons to mop up the copious bleeding).

Consequently, women who make positive improvements to their diet, eg by significantly increasing the raw component and/or cutting out meat, alcohol, coffee etc in favour of fresh, whole foods in which fruits and vegetables predominate, are concerned when their menstruation changes, that is, the flow becomes much lighter and/or infrequent, or in some cases seems to disappear altogether.

I've always had nagging doubts about periods, from the age of 14 when they started. Surely it isn't meant to be like this, I thought. If we were all living naturally, in a 'Garden of Eden' (however that's defined), without pads, tampons, tissues (or even clothes?), would we all be running around dripping blood all over the place for a few days every month?

36 years later, my feeling is that...no, we wouldn't be. I'll be explaining why in this article, where I pull together a number of observations and writings from various sources that all suggest pretty much the same thing - that whilst a menstrual blood flow - that is, anything beyond a few spots of blood - may be normal, it's not healthy.

MONTHLY BLOOD FLOW - IT MAY BE 'NORMAL' IN OUR SOCIETY, BUT IS IT UNIVERSAL?

Human beings

'Black African females on a wholistic diet of natural foods do not menstruate...Menstruation by black African women is a recent occurrence...Haemorrhaging among black African women represents a deterioration of the race...'Fruitarian and vegetarian women, normally, do not menstruate. If they do menstruate it consists of one or two drops of blood (about the size of a pea) from the unfertilized egg.' (Dr Imhotep Llaila O Afrika, 'African Holistic Health').

OK...firstly, Dr Afrika's account appears to be anecdotal, rather than scientific. I've searched for anthropological studies confirming it, but haven't found anything, although neither have I found anything contradicting it. And (I can hear you shouting) sure - most vegetarian women do menstruate, and some have quite a heavy flow, but what is certainly the case is that I have seen hundreds of messages on raw food forums from those on fruitarian and raw vegan or low-dairy raw vegetarian diets reporting lighter, or absent periods. (Please note that 'fruitarian' is variously defined, eg a loose definition would be a diet where the greater part (eg 75%) is fruit (including non-sweet fruit such as tomato, cucumber etc, and nuts). I am not suggesting anyone eats 'nothing but sweet fruit'!)

'Few Navaho women wear undergarments and the great majority apparently do not use perineal pads during menstruation.' (American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, May 1951). That suggests the women's flow was very light then, although of course their diets in 1951 would probably have been quite different from the diet they follow today - I suspect things will have changed now...

'Among one primitive people in the Australian bush country who live entirely on fruit, the menstrual period lasts about twenty minutes and approximately a tablespoon of blood is expelled...The women of the American Indian of the Great Plains who lived on a simple diet and were exceedingly active, had a short, uncomplicated menstrual period, scarcely noticeable.' (Dr Bieler, MD, 'Natural Way to Sexual Health' 1972).

Animals

In most cases, it's not relevant to look at animals, as most don't experience ovulatory cycles as we do.

One exception is non-human primates (eg gorillas, monkeys). However, it's debatable whether observations of primates in captivity are relevant, as they will be living unnatural lifestyles (and in many cases following unnatural diets) in the same way that women in the developed world are.

But studies of primates in the wild are interesting:

'Studies have found that gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans do shed, following non-fertilization of the egg, but that there is either a very small amount of bleeding, or no bleeding observed (my italics)...The menstrual cycle lasts 31-32 days...menstrual bleeding is minimal.' (Tim Knight, University of Washington, 'Gorilla Natural History')

'Gorillas. In captivity, the first menstrual flow reportedly occurs between six and seven years of age. (Dixson, 1981). Menstrual bleeding has not been observed in wild mountain gorillas at Karisoke;' (my italics again) (Peter Thorpe Ellison, 'Reproductive Ecology and Human Evolution')

'NO BLEEDING OBSERVED'

Note that the two accounts of gorillas in the wild conflict. One says they do not menstruate. The other chooses its words more carefully. It says 'no observed flow'. This carries the implication that the researchers recognize that there could actually be a small amount of bleeding, but it's so small that they weren't able to detect it.

In the same way, women who think they haven't menstruated at all may actually have lost a drop or two of blood but haven't noticed it. For example, it could have been lost within a flow of wee, or not noticed on coloured underwear.

ARE INDIGENOUS WOMEN (AND GORILLAS IN THE WILD) WITH LITTLE OR NO (OBSERVED) BLEEDING UNHEALTHY?

The gorillas are obviously healthy. And the lifestyle of the indigenous women, or at least those studied relatively early in the 20th century, will almost certainly have been free of many of the things in the developed world linked with illness, eg refined sugar, white flour, processed foods in general, not to mention alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs etc and they will have been living outdoor lives.

Healthier than us? Or less healthy. Not a difficult one to answer.

In the 21st century 'developed' world, the women most likely to report light or 'absent' periods are so often the healthiest. They're often athletes - women at the peak of physical fitness. And/or they're women who have at least eschewed the disease-causing substances listed above and following diets high in raw plant foods. They may eat voraciously, but they eat healthily.

In general, the less healthy women are, the better the diet, the more they are likely to be plagued by heavy periods. Studies have shown that overweight women tend to have heavier periods.

And, the more body fat, the younger the age girls will start bleeding. Body fat is of course not necessary for ovulation, as, if it was, starving women throughout the world would not be having children, and clearly they are. It could be that young girls whose 'periods' have not started may well have started ovulating, but with no (observable) blood flow (yet) and, yes, these will tend to be the slimmer girls. As, an increase in body fat is often accompanied by an increase in toxicity and you will see later in the article why I'd tentatively suggest at this point that this could account for the link between body fat and bleeding. (Note I am generalising - slim women can have high levels of toxicity too!).

And of course the higher the blood loss the more likely there is to be anaemia caused by a loss of iron.

ARE WOMEN WHO DON'T HAVE A 'FLOW' INFERTILE?

If there is no ovulation (more later) then, yes, they would be infertile.

But there are many accounts of women who have either not had periods, or have not had any 'flow', or have had periods infrequently, having no problems becoming pregnant, so clearly they have been ovulating and fertile. The indigenous women reported as having little or no flow, and the gorillas with little flow, or no 'observed' flow, have borne children - in fact I'd guess fertility rates in these groups are far higher than in our society.

Natural Hygienist Herbert Shelton: 'I personally know of one woman who is the mother of five children and she has never menstruated in her life. I know another who menstruated during her adolescent period and married a man who had changed his way of living to a truly natural lifestyle. She joined him in his health regime and became a fine specimen of health and ceased menstruating. Thereafter she had three children, all delivered naturally and painlessly and never menstruated again in her life.' (Shelton advocated a high-raw low-dairy vegetarian diet.)

Viktoras Kulvinskas in 'Survival in the 21st Century' reports the case of a woman treated by Dr G S White, who changed her diet to vegan. '[She] flowed bright blood five or six days of each month [and] had such severe cramps that she could not hold her position as stenographer. [He treated her for six months, after which her]periods changed to half a day mucous flow with no blood at all. She was able to resume her work and did so for two or three years. She married and has had three daughters. Each of them had a mucous flow for about half a day each month and are in perfect health. One is married and had a healthy baby girl.'

Thomas Lodi MD ('Get Fresh' magazine, Summer 08): '...it has been my experience over the past eight years working with women eating raw, vegan diets that the menstrual cycles become scant and few, while quality of life and fertility not only persist but improve.'

HAVE WOMEN ALWAYS HAD A MONTHLY BLOOD FLOW?

Simple answer is: we don't know.

Not many ancient writings discuss menstruation. The stock answer to this is 'ah, that's because it was taboo.' What if, what if...it's because it didn't actually used to happen much?!

Here's a mention:

Leviticus 15:19: 'And if a woman has an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days; and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean.'

Note the word 'IF'. Not 'WHEN'. This suggests that perhaps women didn't habitually menstruate. ('Unclean' as used in those times meant 'unhealthy'). Also, elsewhere in Leviticus, it describes the period as the 'blood of the purification'. As if the body is cleaning itself via the blood flow.

In ancient Japan also, menstruating women were segregated. After their period of seclusion ended, they had to wash in the river or sea.

We've been taught that people then knew less than we do nowadays. Could it be that they actually knew more? I'll explain why I think that could be the case...

'WOMB LINING' PUZZLE

'Little bleeding', 'no observed flow', 'tablespoon of blood', 'half a day mucous flow' - doesn't seem to make sense, does it, when we've been led to understand that the 'womb lining' has to be shed each month. But, many women in developed countries following healthy diets/lifestyles, some indigenous women, and gorillas, don't seem to be shedding any womb lining, but are still having babies!

Why is that many, if not most, women in developed countries do appear to shed a lot of gunge along with the blood, but the most natural-living women don't appear to?

One theory, (and this is backed to some extent by scientific observations of monkeys), is that the womb lining can, instead of being shed, be reabsorbed by the body when not needed as a bed for the fertilised egg.

'If the endometrial tissues are not needed - in a truly healthy woman, as in animals in their wild state, those tissues are mostly reabsorbed. What remains is expelled over a short period of time as a slight mucus discharge.' (Dr H G Beiler)

So - could it be that the womb lining that the average woman has built up contains toxic substances due to things ingested and the body is saying 'No way - don't want that reabsorbed thank you!' and chooses instead to dump it? It's certainly likely that, in the average woman, the womb lining will contain toxic substances, as, when pregnant, it develops into the placenta, and we know that toxins on the placenta can be harmful to a developing baby.

Of course, if the egg has been fertilised, the lining will need to stay. But it's possible that the body could find other ways to detox itself of any poisons in early pregnancy, eg via morning sickness (discussed later).

And/or perhaps it's simply the case that the unhealthier the woman, the thicker the womb lining will become. And, connected with the argument above, this could be because a lot of material/blood is being deposited there that is not deposited in the healthier woman, or the primate.

SO WHY DO THE BODIES OF 'CIVILISED' WOMEN GENERALLY BLEED SO MUCH?

'Civilised', 'developed' - difficult to choose words that won't offend someone, but...you know what I mean, I hope.

Most women in our society don't bleed just a drop or two, or very lightly, as do many women living natural lifestyles, and primates. They bleed lots. Yes, the blood does flow. And very few men reading this will have any idea just how much! For days - often a week.

So here come the radical views. They're mainly writings from early in the 20th century (as, from the later 20th century, when radical feminist writings took hold, anything suggesting that menstruation was anything less than a wonderful thing would have been 'deposited' on from a great height - would anyone have dared?) Basically, the idea presented in the following writings is that of menstruation as 'dis-ease'.

'Menstruation is a haemorrhage. No authority on earth can successfully maintain that a haemorrhage is natural and normal, no matter in what part of the body it occurs.' (Dr G R Clements, 'Female Degeneration')

'Women are beginning to see the mistake of not questioning every aspect of their mental, physical and bodily circumstance. If one wrong condition in the body is not alleviated, it will compound itself and lead to other, worse conditions...when the organs of elimination are overburdened, the body stores some of the waste and then seeks other avenues (not designed for elimination of waste disposal.) (Dr Schroyer, 'The Physiological Enigma of Women').

'...toxic blood seeks an outlet through the womb via the menstrual function...The quality of menstrual blood varies according to the chemistry of the toxic material. Bright red, profuse, odourless blood accompanied by severe uterine cramps indicates that the preponderant irritant comes from improper digestion of sugars and starches. The offending toxins are acids which have failed to be completely oxidized to carbon dioxide and water. On the other hand, if the menstrual blood is dark and odorous, clotted and stringy, the toxins of protein indigestion or putrefaction are present...thus it is obvious that under chemical duress the uturus, which nature developed as the organ of reproduction, can become an organ for the elimination of putrid waste.' (H G Bieler, 'Natural Way to Sexual Health'). (Old Jewish writings from the 'Talmud' also distinguished between different colours of menstrual blood).

Interestingly, in 'Diseases of Women and Children', Dr Tilden related the amount of menstrual bleeding to the amount of discharge women produce at other times of the month, which he felt was also a means by which the body eliminates toxic matter. (The Old Testament records that the ancient Israelites viewed any discharge, from men or women, as unhealthy, and is in fact similar to the modern 'alternative' health view that when the body discharges, via whatever outlet, it is trying to purify itself, to clean itself of toxic substances.)

To many feminists, the idea of the menstrual blood as being 'impure' is heresy, but...'The toxicity of menstrual blood has been well substantiated. Mach and Lubin (Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapy 22:413 (1924)) showed that the blood plasma, milk, sweat and saliva of menstruating women contains a substance that is highly toxic to protoplasm of living plants. This toxic substance is not present during the intermenstrual periods.' Even the sweat and saliva! And these toxins are not present when not menstruating. It's as if the body is 'gathering together' toxins in the period preceding menstruation, prior to expulsion at menstruation, to get the body all nice and clean again for possible impregnation the following month. But, sure, the study's old, and if anyone knows whether any subsequent studies have refuted it, let me know.

MORE ON DIET

Health researchers and writers Leslie and Susanna Kenton found their periods changed after switching to a diet high in raw fruits and vegetables:

'Women on an all-raw or high-raw diet often report that menstrual problems such as bloating, pre-menstrual tension and fatigue improve greatly after two or three months. For some of them the improvement is so dramatic that they are not aware of their periods until they arrive. This is something we discovered ourselves and at first we thought we were unique. Then we spoke to numerous other women who said they had had a similar experience. Heavy periods become lighter - a period that lasts six or seven days can be reduced to as few as one or two. In some women, particularly those who do not eat meat, dairy products or large quantities of nuts, periods even cease altogether.'

Bellgene Chung, who healed herself of cervical cancer, and believes raw food helped her do that, has researched menstruation and diet:

'Menstruation (bleeding) is NOT a necessity following ovulation...We have been conditioned to believe that menstruation goes hand in hand with ovulation...Most women, including myself, experience menstruation because they are not truly clean on the inside...Menstruation is the body's desperate attempt to free itself from toxins, and many females experience PMS in addition to the needless bleeding. Abdominal pain (cramping), headaches, fatigue and irritability do NOT signify an optimal state of health, yet most of us brush these symptoms off as the norm. If you feel such symptoms, this is how your body is communicating that it wants you to change what you are doing; we must listen to Nature's messages...Presently, on a mainly raw diet, I do not even realize that I am menstruating until I feel moist and decide to take a peek'.

(re PMS - could it be that we also accumulate psychological toxins...building up just pre menstruation, to be expelled (phew!) at menstruation?)

SO WHAT HAPPENS AT PREGNANCY, OR AT THE MENOPAUSE?

These are my suggestions only; they've come from my 'wrestles' with the various theories.

When we become pregnant, we stop ovulating. So, there's no longer any egg released to be fertilised. So there's no unfertilised egg to be shed. So there's no monthly 'loss' which the body can efficiently take advantage of to offload toxic matter. And the womb lining can't be discarded, as if it was the embryo would go along with it.

So...if the theories above are correct, the body could have a problem, in that it may have accumulated toxic matter, but its monthly outlet via the uterus and vagina, is firmly closed. So, it will have to find some alternative way to expel any gathered toxins. Cue morning sickness. As a non-doctor, non-nutritionist, non-scientist, I'm going to suggest that morning sickness could be a wonderful outlet for detoxification.

And others feel similarly. Natural Hygienist Joyce M Kling: 'Morning sickness is a body purification effort to create a better environment for the fetus.' Some say that morning sickness is all down to 'hormones'. Well, I don't see why hormones can't be involved in the purification process, and I can only say that if I were pregnant I would not do anything in any way to stop or 'cure' morning sickness, if it occurred. That is because I believe that anything that suppresses morning sickness will mean that unwanted toxins may stay in our bodies - with possibly adverse consequences for the unborn baby. Not proven by science. Just the theory of a madwoman.

Menopause: as in pregnancy, the body is no longer ovulating, therefore no monthly loss of unfertilised egg, so, again, if the theories above are correct, that exit for toxins is again closed. Thus the body will look for other ways to detoxify. I'd suggest that one way in which it will do this is via the skin - cue 'hot flushes'.

FOR THOSE WHOSE PERIODS HAVE GONE AWOL (OR AT LEAST APPEAR TO HAVE) ON RAW

First, watch very carefully! It could simply be that you have had a tiny blood loss, but that this is so far removed from a period-as-you-know-it, that you haven't noticed. A spot or two, or perhaps a pink discharge, around the time that you'd expect a period, could well mean that ovulation has taken place 14 days previously.

If you've detected nothing for months, not even a spot, I'd understand why you might feel concerned. After all, a teeny amount of bleeding at least is reassuring to our conditioned minds that ovulation has occurred, and it's good to know that it is occurring if we wish to become pregnant at some time. So the key thing then is to establish whether you are in fact ovulating.

The accounts I've described suggest that, if you feel healthy generally, there is a far higher likelihood that you are ovulating and that all is well, than not. Please don't worry if anyone on a conventional diet tells you that perhaps you are not ovulating because you are 'starving' yourself, or 'malnourished'. That theory really doesn't hold water, because millions of starving, malnourished women in the world continue to have babies, so clearly ovulate. Secondly, even if it were correct, you are just about as far from being malnourished as it is possible to be. People on standard cooked diets are often 'malnourished'. If you are on a diet high in raw plant foods, you are likely to be in the best health you've experienced for a long time.

So, having said that you're very likely to be ovulating fine, how can you know for sure? Here are two things you could do to know for 'almost sure'! Firstly, you can take your temperature daily and see if there's a slight rise mid-cycle. The rise indicates ovulation. Secondly, observe the state of vaginal discharge/mucus daily (if any - see Tilden above!). At ovulation it should change from being relatively opaque and thick to thinner and transparent with the consistency of raw egg white (sorry, lifetime vegans who've never had an egg - you'll have to get hold of one.). Try putting some of the mucus on a tissue and folding then unfolding it - if you see any 'strings', and it's thin and transparent, it's likely ovulatory mucus.

If you've detected nothing, not even a spot, nor a temperature rise, nor a change in mucus, then it would be wise to follow Thomas Lodi MD's advice: 'absence of menstruation can sometimes (my italics) denote an underlying hormonal problem...consult a suitably qualified holistic physician who can carry out the relevant checks.' Bear in mind, in the UK at least, medical doctors will rarely act until periods have been absent for six consecutive months.

I believe however that the vast majority of women on raw vegan or low-dairy raw vegetarian diets who are experiencing scant, or no (observed!) blood flow are doing so for the very best and healthiest reasons rather than there being anything wrong.

CONCLUSION

Was pristine woman walking in paradise dripping blood for a few days each month? I don't think so.

Are periods normal? Yes - in most 'developed' societies, and particularly amongst women on standard cooked omnivorous diets. Are they healthy? Periods-as-generally-understood? I don't think so.

Do I still have them? Well - er... yes. At 50, I do still have periods, but obviously have mixed feelings here! Pre-raw, I was rather pleased that my body was still bleeding each month, but now I'm obviously not so sure. It's all slightly confused by the fact that I'm an old hag and therefore may not be ovulating regularly, but I can say (way-hay!) that, since raw (I'm almost 100% raw, but my diet's not perfect), my periods are much lighter and more infrequent. Phew.

The main aim of this article has been to challenge the prevailing view of periods as 'healthy', to challenge the things we've been brought up to believe about them, and to reassure those women whose menstrual flow has changed since going raw that this is probably not something to be concerned about, that it is just as likely (if not more likely) to be a sign that health is improving, rather than the opposite.

It's also been to suggest that a flow of blood is our body's taking advantage of this outlet to eliminate toxins. Perhaps periods - the pain, the blood flow, PMT - were rightly named a 'curse' - a curse on us for falling short of living how we are meant to live - physically and psychologically. But, as Proverbs 26:2 says 'as the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.' Curses have causes. Remove the causes and the curse goes.

When we go raw, we are going out of step with what 99% of the world says on diet. In this article, I've taken the same path on menstruation. I hope I have, at least, provided food for thought.

POSTSCRIPT

This article received more comment, here, and on raw food forums, than any other article I've written. The majority has been positive (thank you).

Predictably, the content of some of the negative comments has indicated that posters have not actually read the article carefully. In some cases what I have said has been misrepresented. Just to clarify, I have suggested (and have made it clear that I do not have medical qualifications) that minimal bleeding (along with no bleeding) may well be a sign of good health, but that the 'flow' most people understand as a 'period' is unhealthy. I do not advocate that anyone 'targets' to eradicate all bleeding and feels that they have in any way 'failed' if that has not been achieved!

I have also made a clear distinction between menstrual flow, and ovulation, and again it should be obvious to anyone who has read the article that I regard ovulation as healthy, and lack of ovulation as unhealthy.

I am always open to critical comment, as long as the poster has read the article and the comment is positive, constructive, and substantiated. Indeed, if there are any flaws in my logic, I would like to be made aware of them, and will research further.

And although the majority of comments have been positive and open-minded, I was sad to see the article denounced on a cooked vegan forum for being a possible trigger for eating disorders! Nowhere in my article do I suggest anyone starves themselves - one of the many wonderful things about the raw (or high-raw), vegan (or 'low-dairy vegetarian') diet is that we can eat all we like, enjoy our food, 'eat freely', without any issues. 'Eating disorders' are firmly linked to the crazy diet and lifestyle we think of as 'normal'. In the event that someone did totally misunderstand what I am saying in the article and develop an 'eating disorder' as a result, that surely has to be weighed against its effect (hopefully) in helping to move women away from the standard cooked diet (often high in processed food and fat) that is causing unnecessary suffering and premature death to millions.

And, finally but very importantly, if English is not your first language, and you have used a Google translation, please bear in mind that meanings can be changed significantly in translation! I've just seen my article discussed on a Danish forum and was horrified to see (OK, on translating the Danish back to English) a poster saying that I'd said that the eggs (my italics) we emit are a consequence of poisons in the body! Of course I've said nothing of the sort.

89 comments:

Utopian Kitchen said...

This is an interesting topic. I have noticed lighter periods on raw 99.5%, about 20% of calories from fat, but now I'm doing about 10% of calories from fat about 5/7 days a week (and other days a bit more and/or not calculating it), and I can't wait to see the change in my periods. I unfortunately still get cramps/back aches for one day.

My friend is a vegan who eats cooked food, some raw (tries to eat more) and her periods have been horrendous, so I wonder what else besides diet plays a role.

Debbie Took said...

Hi UK

Yes, although I've focused on diet, I suspect there are non-diet influences on our health that could have an influence - eg the indigenous women mentioned would not only be getting lots more sunshine and fresh air than most of us, but also be free of many of the other unnatural ways of living we see as normal in our society (not to mention toxins we ingest in the air we breathe...)

elasticfate said...

There are tons of articles on this topic on soilandhealth.org as well. I remember trolling it when I first went raw as someone had told me they no longer mentstruated. It's quite fascinating stuff!

Debbie Took said...

Many thanks, elasticfate! I hadn't heard of this site before, and see it's Australian in origin, but full of excellent stuff of interest to people all over the world - 'nutritional anthropology' library, wow! Yet another thing to keep me glued to this chair...

Debbie Took said...

Michael Hoffman, can you contact me at thisgeneration@btinternet.com, where I can reply to your comment in more detail? (And many thanks for the information!)

Vegan said...

Food for thought indeed! I'd never come across this view before Debbie, so thanks for putting it out there. Not sure what to make of it, but I think we should never be closed to new and different ideas.

- A vegan who keeps an eye on raw food happenings!

happyherbivore.com said...

I'm not raw (and never will be) but I'm a vegan and I focus my diet around whole, unprocessed foods. I've noticed lighter periods (opposed to my omni days) but I'm also much more active (and consequently more lean/strong) and I can't see it was my 'diet' that made my flow any less... or maybe its my birthconrol that makes it less... anyway, my friend's dog isnt fixed and is a raw vegan and that does DOES bleed when its that time...

Debbie Took said...

Hi happy herbivore

I'm wondering why you don't feel your change from omni to vegan could have had anything to do with your periods becoming lighter. The theories presented in the article would suggest it could have done (that is, if you work on the basis that it's unnatural to eat meat - OK, much-debated!).

Increased exercise is also a part of more natural living, so could well have played a role.

Re your friend's dog that bleeds, my only comment there would be that the dog is domesticated, so not living in the same way that it would be in the wild (note the differences observed between gorillas in captivity and gorillas in the wild). Whatever the case, it's good news your periods are easier -Best wishes!

Debbie Took said...

Vegan, love your comment. That's pretty much my policy when I come across something that initially seems a bit whacky!

Vegan said...

It's be great to see a study of women who don't menstruate (for whatever reason) to determine whether they ovulate or not. Maybe someday someone will do one!

Vegan (www.theveganmentor.com)

Debbie Took said...

Vegan, agree! If anyone hears of one (or knows of one that's been carried out) please let me know.

Mila said...

hey Deb!!
long time since i have written here. could you email me? i have a question to ask...and know you will direct me to the right source.
as far as this menstrual thing...i remember a WHILE back ...maybe a year ago? you forward me this amazingly LONG article about non-'menstruating' and cases for it. I have not had 'normal' menstruation any more. I LOVE IT. it is SOOOOOOOOO nice to not have to buy all the products.
I get a mucous discharge twice a month. each for a half day. I feel so in-touch and attuned to my female rhythmns now. it is so nice. It's a really incredible feeling. i don't get bloated, crampy, mood swings, etc.
i can always 'sense' when i am either in my ovulation discharge or 'menstrual' discharge.
may be too much information i am giving here...but thought it might help someone else.
furthermore, i have a HIGH raw and vegan diet. though, must be honest, the past couple months have been tumultuous for me and have reverted to junk food and sweets. Again, i was 'sensing' i have to get back on track, or the blood flow could return as a result of the higher food toxins i have been putting in my body. So, back to basics for me. I figure a nice week long juice fast could help recallobrate.
hope you are well! here is my email: milalulu1 at gmail dot com.

MWUAH!

Debbie Took said...

Hi Mila
Good to hear from you again! E-mail me the question privately via thisgeneration@btinternet.com and I'll be delighted to help (if I can).

Katharine said...

Good blog post, I completely agree. In fact I resonate so well with your "take" on things that most of your articles feel like someone opened my head and made a coherent piece out of all the many but disjointed scraps of common sense in there... I don't have time to do it myself, so I'm grateful! Please keep up the good work, it's such an interesting read.

Debbie Took said...

Katherine, appreciate comment. Many of my articles have been written following my own internal wrestles - all quite cathartic!

ajchanter said...

Debbie, thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much for this article!!!!!!!!!!

My period has not come since I've gone raw, albeit a few times when I was encouraged to incorporate less-than-optimal stuff into my diet by my mum and (ex) nutritionalist right at the beginning of my 'jouney'.

My nutritionist beleived it was wrong for me to not have my perios (although my blodd levels were perfect) so she thought that my vegan/high raw at that time (although high fat at that time too...!) was wrong too! Against my wishes, my mum (out of love though) encouraged me to eat goats cheese and cows milk according to my nutritionalists recommendations (my mum is also convinced that having my period is essential) .... in a few days, my period came back but i could not STAND eating animal products!!!! so within a week, i was vegan again!! ...

Since... I have gone (100%) now - and now, within the past few weeks 80/10/10... I feel the best ever, but to the dismay of my mum, i don't have my period...
and now I come across your brilliant article and understand why!!! thank youuuu!! ... I was wondering myself that if the raw diet is optional, then why arn't i getting my 'all.essential' monthly blood flow? ;) (and back in the pre-raw/vegan days, it HURT and was definatly a flow!!!).... I am grateful to not have the pain now!!! (:

What do you think? Do you think i'm 'safe' without my monthly flow?

anyway, sooooo sorry for this long comment! Thanks so much! I love your blog! (:

AJ

Debbie Took said...

Hi AJ

So good to hear the article has helped.

But...the boring answer is...I really have to cover myself here by reminding you what I'm not (doctor, nutritionist etc). The article is basically a gathering together of a non-conventional view of periods, together with my own musings.

What I think you should do is...show the article to your mum and perhaps discuss it?

Very best wishes to you. I so wish I'd discovered raw food at 15.

alembicat said...

hello
i thought my experience might be useful to others.
i became veggie at 16, first tried vegan at 18, which in effect was mostly raw (i came across the raw concept then) as i was living somewhere with no kitchen (long story). anyway, my periods vanished, which as i remember didn't really bother me at all. i hadn't bled for many months, but still managed to get pregnant, by my first boyfriend, despite taking precautions.
the downside of not bleeding was that i didn't have any sign that i was pregnant! and maybe following on from your theory of morning sickness... well i didn't have that either!! (nor with my other 2 children). so i didn't actually realise i was pregnant until i felt her move inside me.
a bit of a shock!!!!
i was 20 weeks, it was the end of my first term at university. this wasn't part of the plan!
needless to say, i went on to have my daughter, and finish my course, though things were hard at times as a young single mum. she will be 20 in a few weeks :-)))
i'm now back experimenting raw, and have been for the last few years, my periods are still there but very light, i don't buy pads, just use cloths i cut from old t-shirts, usually only have to change them twice during the whole flow. i'm looking forward to them getting even less :-))
so just a warning to those without periods... you may not get any signs that you are pregnant! until the baby moves...

emma

Debbie Took said...

Wow, yes...something to be borne in mind indeed!

Thank you so much, Emma, for sharing your story with us.

katherinejustine said...

I think you have some excellent points. I hope so much that what you say is true. However, I was wondering what you think happens with men? They do not have that monthly outlet so where do their toxins go?

Debbie Took said...

Hi Katherine

Good question.

Yes, they are denied that outlet for elimination, so if you have a man and a woman and, hypothetically, the toxins ingested are identical, the man is going to experience elimination symptoms that the woman isn't, or will suffer similar symptoms but with increased severity. For example...I'm thinking that in general young males seem to suffer more severely with acne than young females.

alive! said...

THANK YOU MISS DEBBI! Such a relief after reading this article! Hi. My name is Ashley, I'm 20 and in my second year studying wildlife ecology at Sam Houston State University. I last had a period(very light) in June, it is now the end of November, still no menstration. I was a little concerned, but I am greatly relieved by your article. Other information: I weight about 117 and am 5'6, have been on raw foods for a little over a year now, and feel excellent, abundant energy, bright eyes and gleaming skin, all of the beneficial associations of raw-dom ;) First of all I am thrilled/blessed to have stumbled upon your website! There are copious amounts of obviously flawed mainstream health advice found on medical websites, and everything I read about 'amennorhea' made me feel as if I were alienated and diseased. Lack of protein, lack of minerals, muscle wasting, other nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, ect. were all given as reasons why one might cease to menstruate. Of course are extremes at both ends, and it pulls you different directions, and it's shocking/overwhelming/nerve racking at times, I never know what to trust or who's input to believe because it's all biast, even the research is biast in favor of those who funded it! So ultimately I think it's important to listen to your body and what it tells you it needs because we are all a little different in our genetic coding, and every day is different, and our needs are going to fluctute as such. In this particular instance, if indeed I was so deficient in protein why is it that my hair and nails grow like weeds, and why is it that the beginnings of cavities from my pre-raw life healed themselves if I am so lacking in calcium? I do believe that I am still ovulating as my discharge changes throughout the month, sometimes I'll get a little rush where I feel like I've had a flow, and when I go check it's just a small amount of the thin thread-like clear mucous you spoke of in your article, and it will remain more moist than usual for a few days, so this to me is a decent indication that I am ovulating (does anyone else have this kind of experience???) It's time we as capable educated individuals do our own research to avoid being manipulated and supressed by the vast allotment of false information that is spoon fed, from the time we begin to make cognitive connections, by society, our parents (who rear us with the best intentions planning meals in reverence of the USDA's food guide pyramid) even the M.D.'s continue to lead us down the path of disease and misery! We are a sickly population and the success of their position requires it, but anyways thank you for sharing your knowledge, Best regards, Ashley

Debbie Took said...

Hi Ashley

A big cheer going to you across the Atlantic!

Everything you say makes me feel confident that you are a living testimony to the power of raw food, and I'm envious that you've discovered this at 20, when at that age just about everything found its way down my gullet, and I had the frequent colds and lack of energy to show for that!

As regards the MDs, I think most of them genuinely believe that their advice is in the best interests of the individual - it's just that the world is...upside down.

I think you'll find Natural Hygiene a very interesting area to study.

Very best wishes to you, Ashley and greatly appreciate the feedback.

Denis said...

Hey Debbie,

thanks for this great article! I'm a guy, so I'm not "affected directly" by the topic of interest here, but I believe it's very important for men, too, to be concerned with the health of their girlfriends, spouses, mothers and other women in their lives :)
Don't let those get you down that are so close-minded not to at least respect other ways of looking at things, let alone honestly considering their truth and value! Keep up the critical thinking and good work! :)

- Denis

ps. thanks for all the great comments here, too, you ladies are awesome, keep it up! :)

Debbie Took said...

Hi Denis

Comments much appreciated :-)

AirborneVet said...

Very interesting article. I am not on a raw diet, but I do exercise quite often. I am also on hormonal birth control, so I don't really have much of a flow. During the 5 years I was NOT on birth control, I had a medium flow unless I was exercising often. It took me 4 years to get pregnant and the doctor could never really explain why.

Debbie Took said...

Thanks AV and happy to hear that your unexplained infertility was not permanent.

I do hope you will be able to get off hormonal birth control soon though.

Laura said...

Thanks Debbie. I have been vegetarian for 25 years, though not vegan - and not raw.. I don't suffer PMS or cramps, or bleed heavily. I had a baby just over a year ago at 42, and would love to have another. I found your blog because I was concerned about my monthly bleed being 1.5 days at most, and was concerned my uterine lining may be too thin to be able to conceive (though this was also an issue when I conceived my son).

I am thanking you becuse this is literally the first article I have read that has suggested this may not be a bad thing. Also, it reads as a highly original and free-thinking piece of work that has obviously seen a lot of research go into the preparation. I really enjoyed it! I look forward to reading more from you.

Debbie Took said...

Hi Laura

Many thanks for comments.

Yes, I'm sure that what you had perceived as a 'problem', because you weren't like most women, was simply due to the fact that your health was better than most women. Oh it's wonderful not to be 'normal'! And, as, biologically, you are younger than most 42 year-olds, you should be able to have another child or three easily. Very best wishes!

Esmee said...

Great article Debbie. In college, I studied anthropology and was particularly interested in diet, health, breastfeeding, childbirth etc. of the cultures I explored. The Kung people of the Kalahari Desert in Africa still lived a hunting and gathering lifestyle when anthropologists studied them in the first part of the 1900's. The women did have very light periods, and they used a very small of dried plant matter to absorb the blood. Obviously, for this to be sufficient, it would have to be very slight. While they ate a hunter-gatherer diet that included wild game meat, their over all diet was quite low in fat I believe. The only overt fat they had access to was the mongongo nut, and I am not sure what percentage of fat it contained, nor do I remember if they had access to it year round. The women did not start menstruating until the age of 18, they gave birth in about 2 hours, and breastfed each child for about 4 years, so they only had about 10 periods total during their entire reproductive life. My personal diet related menstrual experience has been interesting. I have had severe dysmenorrhea since I started menstruating at the age of 13. I have eaten a an all-raw diet for most of the past 20 years, sometimes with animal products and sometimes without, BUT either way it was always VERY HIGH in FAT. I never experienced any improvement in my dysmenorrhea eating all raw. However, after reading Dr. Graham's book The 80/10/10/ Diet and getting all overt fat out of my diet, I have seen dramatic improvement after only 2 months. I did not have to use any pain medication at all during my last period. This leads me to the inevitable conclusion that too much fat is one of the primary causes of the monthly menstrual misery we "civilized" women suffer. You could probably do a little more research on hunter-gatherers to add to this article if you felt so inclined. :)

Debbie Took said...

Esmee, this is very interesting - thank you so much for contributing!

alisa said...

Wow, this info is mind-blowing. It's almost like every woman in the back of her mind hasn't wondered...

I eat high raw, and am breastfeeding a 1-year-old, still no sign of bleeding coming back any time soon. I've been a veg since before puberty, and have always had light periods. (funny, looking back on it now, the intensity has coincided with my diet choices)

Unbelievable - it inspires me to continue on to full raw! This is what I call women's lib. Thanks for sharing this wisdom.

Alisa www.natures-babies.com

Debbie Took said...

Thank you so much, Alisa. This article has now received more comment than anything else I've written. Perhaps because it's relevant to 100% of women. At this stage I'd like to pay tribute to the trailblazers - the people from this century and the last who I've quoted - whose observations inspired me to write the article.

Jodie said...

It's easy enough in this day and age to test to see if you are actually ovulating- is anyone actually doing that? I don't see a flaw in logic here, but it's total conjecture. Anyone up for doing some unofficial testing?

Debbie Took said...

It's only 'total conjecture' if you don't believe the accounts of indigenous women (and those described later in the article) with little or no flow but are still bearing children.

Yes, it's easy to check whether ovulation is taking place. I suggest ways in the article (temperature, mucus) and, yes, kits can be bought from the chemist. I'm sure people are doing that, and trust that my aricle will have encouraged them to do so. I have observed ovulatory mucus myself without a blood flow two weeks later.

AJ said...

I haven't had a period since November 2007. That was my first and last period as a raw foodist. It was so light I did not use any products.

I have two children and with both children, I do not menstrate OR OVULATE until they are nearly weaned. Naysayers may say this is because I am skinny and "low on reserves." I admit, at 16%, my body fat percentage is lower than typical (although still "healthy" according to Dr Douglas Graham)

I believe this lactational anovulation is indeed a sign of health. It would be interesting for you to research and blog on this related topic. I believe it is a natural sign for our bodies, upon lactating, to know that we already have a baby, and hence do not need to be making another one. When our babies are done lactating, nature knows it is time to initiate fertility once again.

http://pullingdaisies.blogspot.com

AJ said...

Somebody asked how men expel their toxins (besides the usual eliminative channels of sweating, urination, mucous, etc.) - isn't it obvious? Ejaculation!

Debbie Took said...

Hi AJ

Thanks - that all makes absolute sense to me. (It also took me 50 years to realise that much suffering is due to the human being's various attempts to separate the act of intercourse from creation.)

Debbie Took said...

I should point out that my first comment applies to AJ's first comment.

I'm not sure about your second comment, AJ. On the one hand, it wouldn't make sense for the body to use semen as an outlet for detoxification, as it's designed to be deposited inside the woman.

On the other hand...it might explain why there's a 'link' (we're told) between sexual promiscuity and cervical cancer (obviously many exceptions!!), but prostitutes, who would have intercourse with a sperm barrier, ie condom, have the same (or less?) incidence of cancer than the general population.

Anja said...

One thing that isn't in your article is that women used to have many more children than they do now. They also nursed their children for an extended period of time. Pregnancy and lactation suppress ovulation. I read an article recently that estimated that women used to have an average of 100 periods in a life time and now they have an average of 400 in the developed world. This could account for the "if" word in the bible passage. More periods are associated with higher rates of breast cancer. Some surmise that it the greater exposure to estrogen in a lifetime.

Jason said...

I'm a man, but this is a fascinating hypothesis, and seems highly probable when considering people like the Hunzacuts, who seemed to live in universally perfect health until their 90s and 100s. I would be very interested to know if the Hunza women ever had heavy flow. They ate mostly raw, mostly vegan, and when cooking they cooked extremely lightly and briefly.

As Tim O'Shea often implies on thedoctorwithin.com, a normal life (read: truly healthy life well-integrated into the matrix of the natural order, not a typical Western one) should be completely without any disease or symptoms at all. Never a cold, never a headache, never a pimple. It seems to me certainly never anything odd like extensive bleeding would be "normal." (Isn't it a vexing trick of language that "normal" can be interpreted either as typical or what "ought to be" typical?)

As for how men deal with the same toxic load, perhaps it's evolutionarily the case men are more active (and more muscular, have role as persistence hunters) and hence sweat more. Since hot flashes seem to be a mechanism in post-menopausal women to induce sweating, and the detoxifying effects of saunas are well-known, this would jive well with the impressively cogent theory you've laid out.

Debbie Took said...

Thanks, Jason.

If you ever do find out the Hunza women, please do let me know. Although I gather their diet has changed significantly in recent years and is far nearer the typical SAD diet than it was decades ago.

Courtney said...

wow thank you for the wonderful article it has really made me think differently about everything and i completely agree with everything you say and is even more motivation to step up my raw food diet

Thank you! :-)
Courtney

Debbie Took said...

Thanks, Courtney, that's good to hear. Stepping up the raw will have countless benefits. As you know!

IsabelleMarcil said...

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge... I Didn'y have period (or haven't notified!) for months now and my boyfriend and I were a little worry about this situation... I'll share your article with him... It opens my mind... I am so so grateful! I'll make deeper reseach, but it make yo much sense!

Thank you...

With love,
Isabelle, Canada

Rena said...

I will definitely share your knowledge on my site: http://www.facebook.com/goodchoicestarks

This is very insightful and appreciated by me.

I would absolutely love it if you joined my forum to discuss this among those in integrative medicine:
http://integrativeexchange.com/profile/RenaEStarks

Thank you again and hopefully we will discuss further?

Debbie Took said...

Hi Rena

Thank you so much for your feedback.

I will have to decline your kind offer simply because my non-raw workload is so crazy right now that my 'forum life' is on hold. (I do love to discuss, and that can be a problem for me! I'm having to curb my 'forum addiction'):-)

But possibly in the future?

Evita said...

Hi Debbie

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this long, and very thorough look at all parts of menstruation. You did a great job!

I have been vegetarian since 2007, then vegan since the start of 2009, then about a year and a half ago I finally got off the pill. For the first few months my period cycles were long and light, and I just thought it was my body getting used to being without the pill for 5 years.... but now it is still continuing, although my cycles have gone down to about 34 days.

I don't use Western medicine and the whole time believed that everything was fine, but inside I had some doubts about what is normal. Well I finally decided to look more into this and something made me think about my diet, which has been 100% clean, vegan with at least 50% raw for over 2 years now.

So your article has shed so much light and has made so much sense to me! How brilliant! OF course the body would detox less if it is clean! Not to mention all the other points!

So from now on, I will be super grateful and embracing the beauty of having a 1 day light period, not letting society's skewed ways of what is healthy influence me. I keep track of my cycle using the awesome natural Pearly birth control (just measures temp each morning & gives green or red light) and I know from that and my body that I ovulate so I have no doubt not only is all well, but just the way it is supposed to be :)

Thank you again for this!!!!

Debbie Took said...

Hi Evita

And thank YOU, not least for the reference to the Pearly ovulation monitor, which could be very useful for many readers in the US concerned.

http://www.
raxmedical.com/pearly.php

dsgdsgds said...

I'm pretty happy with the idea of only getting my period once every three months. I definitely want to have kids, but not now, and I definitely am sick of having an unpredictable period thanks to the other birth control pills I've been on. I'm hoping this pill is the one for me.

Debbie Took said...

By 'pill', I hope you don't mean birth control pills. The point of the article was to show that if we live a natural life we might not bleed (or might not bleed much). It shouldn't be about living an unnatural life then suppressing the body's necessary cleaning-out at ovulation via birth control pills.

mm said...

About the question "How do men expel their extra load of toxins?" I was just thinking about how their sweat is usually much more odorous then women`s sweat. Wouldn't it be because there is more toxins present? This would on the other hand go against what I have learned about where the smell comes from which we´ve been told is the bacterias on the skin. Does someone knows more about it?

Debbie Took said...

Hi mm

They'd expel (subject to the body's energy available to expel) their toxins in all the other (ie non-bleeding) ways that women do. If they have one less channel of detoxification, could look it two ways: either they will be, in general, unhealthier than women (and men do in general die earlier...), OR they simply have to expel more toxins per 'outlet'. Have to say that in my experience men's feet are generally more...pungent. :-)

Dana said...

I have fed my dog a raw diet and she doesn't bleed while she is in heat. JUst a few drops and that is it as I can tell. As for myself, the better I eat the less I bleed and no pms or at least less pms symptoms. I knew there was something wrong with bleeding. I use a cup so I can see how much I bleed and what I am bleeding.Thank you for your words.

Debbie Took said...

Hi Dana

Many thanks for comments. Although...I think we can probably only compare ourselves with primates when it comes to ovulation/periods. It's a couple of years since I wrote the article, so I can't quite remember the 'science' on that! Measuring in a cup would be a good idea, although that would probably be practical only for those like you who are on a healthy diet. In my 20s and 30s, on a standard cooked diet, I think I would have needed several cups a day!

ajatrocity said...

thanks for this article! i was wondering if i was just imagining things haha.when i went vegan my periods went from 5-6 days to 2-3.and when i faithfully stick to my raw diet i don't have cramps or any kind of pms, i don't realize it's coming til it's there, and i forget i'm on my period.which used to never happen because the cramps were so bad i could hardly walk sometimes!

Laurie Masters said...

Thanks for this post. It concurs with my understanding of human reproductive physiology.

Readers here might be interested in the following story, told to me years ago by Dr. Tim Trader (low-fat raw vegan educator, retired naturopathic doctor and fasting supervisor). Back in the early 1990s when he was a country doctor in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Dr. Tim received a visit one summer from a local game warden, who was accompanied by the town veterinarian. The vet was a friend of Dr. Tim's, and he knew that "Doc" (as he was fondly known by) would offer an interesting perspective into an unusual problem occurring in the local forests. It seems the does there (female deer) had recently begun bleeding from their vaginas, for no apparent reason ... and of course were being killled at an unprecedented rate by predators, who could easily smell the blood.

Upon hearing the story, Dr. Tim immediately asked "by chance have any pesticides been sprayed in the forest in recent months?" Surprised, one of the rangers replied, "Why, yes ... we started spraying earlier this year." "Aah!" said Dr. Tim. "That makes perfect sense." He went on to describe how the body is highly intelligent and seizes every opportunity to shed toxins and poisons. He explained that the does were bleeding because their bodies were attempting to keep things clean, in order to support a pregnancy. This is Nature's way of expelling the toxic chemicals from the body. In natural settings, healthy female mammals do not bleed with their reproductive cycles. Instead, they shed a very small amount (maybe a teaspoon) of clear-white liquid, the endometrial tissue. Only when they ingest poisons or eat unnatural cooked and processed foods (as occurs in captivity) do they bleed with their cycles. The rangers were surprised, yet the theory made perfect sense.

Of course," continued Doc Tim, "the same holds true for human females: women are not designed to bleed each month ... at most they should expel a clear-white "mucus plug" and a few drops of blood. If we were living in clean, natural environments and eating unprocessed raw plant foods, human females, too, would experience little or no bleeding."

--------------------

Wow ... I had no idea before hearing this story from Tim. Over the years I've heard things like this on occasion, but this article is the most thorough examination of the topic that I have run across.

Before I close I'd like to direct readers to the two comments above that mention "the 80/10/10 diet," a LOW-FAT raw vegan program espoused by Dr. Doug Graham in his book of the same title (which I edited and contributed substantial original writing to). It's important to understand the importance, for both reproductive and general health, of eating a whole-foods diet that is both unprocessed and very low in fat ... and in particular one that contains ZERO oil. Few people recognize the fact that oil is one of the most highly processed foods and health-damaging foods that humans can eat.

For further information about oil, here are some excellent resources:

1. VIDEO: Olive Oil is NOT Health Food but Sick Food (10:02): www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfBKauKVi4M

2. ARTICLE: Don't Go Cuckoo Over Coconut Oil (Jeff Novick, RD: www.jeffnovick.com/RD/Newsletter/Entries/2008/4/10_Marketing_Junk_Food%3A_Dont_Go_Cuckoo_Over_Coconut_Oil.html

3. ARTICLE: "I'm Going to Miss My Olive Oil): http://bit.ly/90LuMh

--Laurie Masters, Precision Revision (www.GreenSongPress.org)

Melissa said...

Dr. Kate Clancy has a some info about the "menotoxin" idea http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/context-and-variation/2011/09/09/menstruation-blood-and-tissue/#respond

gwarm said...

I hear less menstrual cycles = less estrogen exposure
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNTm31TMWKQ&feature=BFa&list=PL53AA35449C7DD652&lf=PlayList#t=4m57s quote at 9minutes in may be somewhere in here http://is.gd/UxcxdH

Debbie Took said...

Thank you so much for this excellent information, Laurie!

Becs said...

I am SO relieved!!! I haven't had a period since January. I had one at Christmas, went raw and then had another 2 weeks later, which I thought was odd, and then nothing since. I thought it was because I'd lost weight (but I wasn't underweight, I had a healthy BMI), but I gained some back and still no period. I was scared being raw was making my infertile! But this month I definitely had the ovulation discharge you talked about. I'm SO relieved that I am not the only one. I cannot express my gratitude enough!

Debbie Took said...

That is good to hear, Becs. You could always double-check by taking temperature readings. Re the 'extra' period initially, my understanding is that we do sometimes ovulate more than once in a month, and the body appears to have taken advantage of this for 'detox' when embarking on raw.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your post. I am a definite example of Better Eating, Lighter Periods. Since I changed my eating style from sugars and flours to vegestables and fruits, beans, my periods and cramps have decreased some 90%. Sometimes I fall off my eating style, and begin eating the unhealthy, unnatural foods: refined sugars, flour does it for me. My period comes back at me with a vengence. When I do come back to natural foods, it is heaven.

Vanessa said...

Thanks for an amazing point-of-view. I changed to vegan from lacto-ovo-vegetarian in September. I had a 'Normal' period on Oct 3. Then on 16-17 Oct I had bleeding. I assumed 'ovulation' bleeding even though it was way more than Spotting. I expected to get a 'period' by Oct 31- Nov 1. And I did get it. I was excited to see some light brown/pink discharge on Nov 1. That's how it usually is for day 1 and 2 of my period. The 'flow' starts on day 3. I am on day 4 now. And hey! It's still very little pink on the tissue.

I was like, what's happening?

This article and comments here made me feel good and 'clean' :)

I am worried about the prospect of not knowing when I am pregnant. I am so NOT looking forward to being pregnant. I guess I have to buy a few pregnancy tests and test once a month. Just in case. :)

Catt said...

Hmmm, thanks for the interesting read! Here's my non-period story:

I've had only a handful of periods over the past year. No hair falling out or weakness or anything strange -- just no periods or some very light, almost undetectable spotting. It worries me in the back of my head but, while I'm slim, I'm not starving looking (or feeling).

What I eat: primal. So that's pastured meat, pastured eggs, tubers, veggies, fruit; no sugar, almost no grain, almost always no diary, and not engineered/manufactured/processed foods or food-like products. Just whole food, with some occasional modifications for the sake of social eating. I also cook my food.

One thing we all have in common is that we have ditched industrial foods (hopefully -- of course, some vegans, raws, and primals find creative ways to stuff junk foods into their eating paradigm -- but, at its core, that's one thing all "healthy" eating agrees on: eat it if man didn't have a hand in changing it).

By the way, I used to be a raw vegan (~7 months) -- had my period then. Actually, I gained fat on raw and it was one of the reasons I ditched it. (Actually, many, but that's a debate for another day...)

About the lack of period: I've wondered if I should be concerned; but have also always wondered if a billion periods in a women's lifetime is ideal or even necessary. I am still agnostic on the point but find this very interesting food for thought!

johanna said...

Hi Debbie!

VERY interesting, informative, serious article! I just about a few days ago, after being 90 % raw for almost 3 months, realized that I have not had my "flow" for like 6 weeks or so.

The first month of being raw I did have a 2-day period, but it did not seem to be that emotional and struggling as it can be. And now I just felt in my body, a few days ago, that something was going on in the womb area, but it did not hurt, and I did not dispose any mucous or anything. It is very interesting indeed and I told my mother which directly went something like: "you have to have that looked up. It's unhealthy NOT bleeding blabla".

I personally think it is a bad sign and an unhealty one, with her menopause "hot flushes" which she experience a lot. (Her body trying to eliminate all those cell toxins from chemo, and uric acids and build-up food waste.)

Thank you SO MUCH for this information. I was not looking for it, but I am so glad that I did find it, 'cause I know I would have been anxious if it went further on, with me not knowing that it actually is healthy NOT to have it. It just shows that I am not shoving toxins down my throat and trough my skin and lungs.

Keep on writing!

Johanna

Debbie Took said...

Thanks, Johanna.

If it helps, I'm pretty sure I've had the menopause (I'm 54 this year, and no signs of ovulation), and I've had no 'hot flushes'.

Aromatherapy Health said...

Debbie,
Wow you are a real researcher. Great Article. I really encourage you to get it published ! You know I have been on a health journey since I was real young. I believe I became a 'consious' health advocate at the age 15. I really have never had cramps or pms and my periods last 3-4 days. This article was very encouraging. I just started the Raw Vegan diet. I'm actually looking forward to my periods becoming silthch ! Thanks for the Article, again get it published! CarolGayFagerhaugh@rocketmail.com

Debbie Took said...

Many thanks for the feedback, Carol. I'm hoping that one day the article will come to the attention of a 'proper' academic researcher with an open mind.

kalidances said...

dear debbie- you are the most racist bullshit artist i have ever read anything from. comparing indigenous women to gorillas? are you fucking kidding me? you are definitely right you are not a doctor. menstruation is something new for african women? then how on earth have they procreated? some of the most unhealthy women i have ever met don't bleed regularly. when your body is under great stress from malnourishment it is unwilling to shed potent nutrients which womb lining and menstrual blood are full of. you obviously have never truly known indigenous women or africans for the matter so stop writing to the public as if you are informed on them and try talking about them as if they are human beings and not gorilla test subjects for your thesis. i live in the middle of no where in the mountains, breathe fresh air, eat out of the forest and drink clean water, and i bleed every twenty eight days in sync with the moon....

Debbie Took said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debbie Took said...

As you can see, I did comment initially, but deleted, as I don't wish to further inflame this poster, who is obviously very upset. I hope she will at some point read the article more carefully.

Sherisse Hartley said...

Debbie, I'm so glad I found your post. I am a vegan, while I'm not a raw vegan, I do consume a high amount of raw food and eat very minimally processed foods. I also have omitted all oils. I feel truly amazing, all around. I did not understand how I could feel so good but not have a period. Your post has brought me so much relief. Thank you very, very much.

Sherisse Hartley said...

Debbie, I'm so glad I found your blog post. I have been searching for some time on this matter. I eat a whole foods plant based diet. Although I'm not entirely raw, a large portion of my diet is. I also try my best to eat minimally processed foods. I became concerned when I wasn't getting my period, I haven't had it since February, which coincidentally is when I switched from a vegetarian to a plant based vegan. I didn't understand how I could feel truly amazing from the switch but be considered "unhealthy" for that reason. I feel a huge relief after reading your post and plan to take my temperature out of curiosity. Thank you so very much for your brave and encouraging words of knowledge. <3

Debbie Took said...

Sherisse, many thanks for the feedback. However, for added peace of mind, check you are ovulating (you can obtain an ovulation kit from the chemist).

Debbie Took said...

Sherisse, after answering your first post I see from a second comment that you are going to be monitoring your temperature around ovulation time.

Vanessa said...

Just a thought
My theory is instead of the uterine lining containing toxins (which can be harmful to the embryo), the body uses menstruation as a means of detoxifying. The mucus discharge every month can be an outlet for toxins elsewhere which segregate to the EXIT route.
I was on a weight loss program some years back and was not losing too much 2 months into it. My trainer and dietician were perplexed as to why. In the meantime, I went in to get Intra-uterine device. 4-5 days of normal menstrual flow + more than a week of flow from irritation due to the IUD + more normal period (went for checkup and they had to readjust it) so had more blood flow. They had to take it off in 2 months because it did not suit me. Those two months were the ones I lose most weight. I lost 14 kgs in that year out of which 8 kgs were in those two months of IUD fiasco.
I have gained the weight back since and some more. I am having a tough time losing and sometimes I think, 'let's go get an IUD' :)
Now I am guessing may be it was the detox from all that bleeding?

Debbie Took said...

Interesting, Vanessa. Re the IUD however, from personal experience I cannot recommend it. I became pregnant with an IUD in place, it was ectopic, and I am now minus one fallopian tube!

riya said...

Hi,

You have been putting a lot of effort in this and I am really grateful to you for this as it has proven to be a life saving piece of information for me.

I am just 15 and got my period a year back, and I kept wondering why is it that pain, uneasiness and discomfort are considered as a normal part of a woman's life.

The fact that not having a period leads you to osteoporosis and having one for a long time leads you to cancer scared me. It was like how can natural things be self-contradictory.


Though I have a so called "normal" period now I am really looking forward to work hard and get a healthier life. I wonder though, why is it said that 16% body fat is required for a female to ovulate and having more muscle is bad for women as it reduces the fat. Does this have anything to do with it?

It's really sad to note that some people ( though very few in number compared to the rest) are posting senseless comments when they clearly don't even understand the logic behind it.

Also, I wonder how do children get rid of these toxins ( eg. men can do it through heavy exercise and sweating) as children lack both estrogen and testosterone.

Your article has helped me gain hope.

Thanks Alot!

Debbie Took said...

Hi Riya
Taking one thing at a time...you say 'not having a period' leads you to osteoporosis. I've never heard this statement before, but I suppose if lack of periods is due to lack of ovulation, the lack of ovulation could be due to a health problem. You've heard that having a period for a long time leads to cancer. Hmm... There is a school of thought that says organisms reproduce when they feel under threat. If that is so, then early onset of puberty could be a response to a toxic overload. Now before all those who started their periods early start screaming at me, logically the degree to which this would lead to health problems later would depend on the toxicity of the diet throughout life. For example, a girl who, due to some environmental trigger (perhaps diet, perhaps something else) started her periods at nine, but followed a 'relatively' healthy diet inlater life may be far less at risk than someone who started their periods later but lived on chip butties from that point on!
Re the body fat needed for ovulation, I've heard that this is 'needed' for menstruation, and my article would explain why this would be the case...but I'm not sure that it's 'needed' for ovulation - there are many women with body fat below this (eg where the population is starving!) who are bearing children, which disproves this statement. How do children get rid of toxins? Well -they try their best through 'childhood illness', although vaccination and medication will of course reduce their abilities to do this. Finally..don't be concerned about some of the 'less positive' comments. Some people don't read articles properly before leaping in, some feel threatened and get angry...all normal stuff! Very best wishes to you. X

HealthyGirl said...

I wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts. I found this article to be very thought provoking.


I'm 34, healthy and athletic. My dietary intake is pretty routine...my workouts can vary. I consider myself a constant experiment by watching/feeling/being conscious of how my body reacts to my typical diet as well as when I introduce new foods for fuel. It's truly amazing how the body works to utilize what you take in. And it pays out the equal amount of respect.


I thought you might find it interesting that my personal variable, which affects my menstruation, is not my diet (because I eat the same foods daily)...it's the intensity of my workouts. This same truth can be a partial reason why anything living in the "wild" produces little to no observable menstruation...they're physically more active. Even when they're sitting, they haven't an air conditioner they can just turn on, so their bodies must work to keep them cool and/or help keep them warm. Their survival is dependent on their bodies running efficiently. I think it's safe to say, they're working their bodies harder on a daily basis. Women living in "underdeveloped" areas consume meat, therefore, a vegan or raw type diet may not necessarily be the reason for their low-menstruation.


I did not read all of the comments, so I apologize if my comment relating to exercise playing more of a role than diet, was already mentioned. I will say that this article deserves recognition, and I will certainly pass it along. Thank you again for sharing, I thoroughly enjoyed it! :-)

Debbie Took said...

Hi Healthygirl

Basically, my premise is the healthier the person the lighter the blood flow. With most people, diet would be a big factor there, but other things may compensate to some extent for a less-than-healthy diet, eg level of physical activity, environment, state of mind etc, eg someone who eats raw vegetarian but spends their days inside on the PC arguing with others about diet etc may not be that healthy, thus reducing the energy available to detox, thus...etc!

Debbie Took said...

Would also like to say that I very much appreciate your comments, healthygirl.

Sapphyreopal5 said...

Initially, I'll admit that I was skeptical of this article (I'm skeptical of many things anyways but is that such a bad thing?) yet I thought about my own changes and understand my period changes are not unhealthy at all.

I am 22 years old and for the last several months I have been eating more fruits and vegetables than anything. Also, I started to cut back on dairy products the last month or two. My periods have been getting lighter with minimal to no cramping even during the first couple days (used to have some cramping before but not too terribly usually). Also, I just started my period earlier today... I am honestly surprised I have only used a regular tampon and changed it literally 3-4 hours later and was shocked. Before on my first day I would be going through supers every couple hours or so. I must say, this period being much lighter is a pleasant surprise :)

To the people who say that some unhealthy women don't experience periods, that may be true but that kind of problem associates with more anorexia and malnutrition (at least from what I know), not from being vegan or vegetarian and also eating more raw foods. The author isn't saying that if you don't have periods, it automatically means you're healthy; she is trying to explain that periods are one way the female body decides to get rid of toxins (not saying periods or lack of periods = healthy automatically).

Anyways, I read your article and thought about the logic behind what women are told by doctors about what periods supposedly are. I have to say that in the big scheme of things, it doesn't entirely make sense. With what you were saying, it makes sense as to why the women I know who have heavier flows are also generally, you said it, unhealthier (not ALL women with heavier flows are less healthy so please don't attack me for that because it's not what I am trying to say!) and the women I know who have lighter flows are generally healthier. Again I am not saying that lighter flows = always healthier, and heavier flows = always less healthy but that is just a general observation of my own.

Thank you for this blog, and I hope to read more articles like this.

Debbie Took said...

Sapphyre, thank you so much for this considered response. Very cheering to see that most people commenting have read the article carefully!

oceanfullofroses said...

Hi! I found your article fascinating. I actually did some research to find more non-menstruating raw food testimonials. I found many articles and comments that confirm what your article says. However, I realised that sometimes the most simple things are the most revealing…. So, despite the fact that the information I’m about to post is so basic, it adds credence to your article, so I wanted to share...

For example, referencing the wiki article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstruation :

All female placental mammals have a uterine lining that builds up when the animal is fertile, but is dismantled (menstruated) when the animal is infertile. Some anthropologists have questioned the energy cost of rebuilding the endometrium every fertility cycle. However, anthropologist Beverly Strassmann has proposed that the energy savings of not having to continuously maintain the uterine lining more than offsets energy cost of having to rebuild the lining in the next fertility cycle, even in species such as humans where much of the lining is lost through bleeding (overt menstruation) rather than reabsorbed (covert menstruation).[1][15] However, even in humans, much of it is re-absorbed.

Like I said, pretty basic. But, the last line particularly interested me. I had no idea that humans actually reasorbed most of the lining, as also referenced by this article: http://www.kband.com/reports/000116.html


On top of this, I also found out that domesticated dogs don't actually menstruate. The bleeding that you see is actually vaginal bleeding coming directly from the vaginal walls, not blood coming from the uterus.
Likewise, the other placental mammals that are in estrous may experience bleeding, but similarly to dogs, this bleeding isn't from shedding womb lining, but vaginal only.

Another quick article that explains this: http://myperiodblog.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/do-other-animals-menstruate/


Personally, I’m not currently on a raw food diet myself, and my periods have been the same length and volume ever since they started, despite the fact that I’ve been on a vegetarian diet for the past few years... But, I also wonder now if this would change if I ate more nutrient dense foods (raw milk, raw eggs, etc) instead of just cutting out soy and meat. Very interesting.


With the information I found along with your in-depth article, I'm convinced now that menstruation isn't natural. Especially considering that human females already reabsorb 2/3rds of the lining, I just don't see why it wouldn't be possible for the body to reabsorb 100%.



Thank you for posting this article! If I hadn't read it, I wouldn't have even thought to question all of this.

Debbie Took said...

And thank YOU for this excellent information. I hope that anyone reading the article now will read the article-and-comments as a package, as it has been so enriched by those who have read it!

Lisa Trevino said...

THANK YOU for writing this. I have suffered from Endometriosis for most of my "period" career. I had stopped bleeding for an entire year when I merely switched from nonorganic meats to organic. I judged the process with fear that it is really unhealthy, etc and had mixed feelings about having it back as well. However, funny, I went to a retreat, prayed to have it return and subsequently resumed menstruation when I got back home! Years have passed and even when I was vegetarian for years, my period was PAINFUL and THICK. Debilitating, really. I often questioned this...why would this be a "natural" part of the process? Why would our bodies that are designed so perfectly include painful periods?! Well, I went fully raw low fat vegan (80-10-10) for other reasons and my first month was worse. I was detoxing. I took medicine because it was so much pain and that sent my body into such a deep detoxification that I had a fever and was bedridden for a week or so. Then, I found out that women with a history of endometriosis and who were raw vegan simply omitted the overt fats (avocado, nuts and seeds, and fatty fruits such as durian) from their diets and found great relief! I was already eating only fruits and veggies (no processed foods, oils, etc), but had started to eat a bit of cooked potato and rice and some juices while being sick from the detox. I went 100% with no overts, anticipating it taking months to have improvement, but that month, I had a tolerable period that lasted less time, had NO PMS, and was able to walk and function! I cried so many times that day! I am 42. I have had painful periods since before 12, other than that one year off. This month I have continued high raw, low fat (no overts) vegan diet and even the cramping that happened throughout the month from residual endometrial tissue attached to other parts of the body was not there! No cramping. How amazing!!! I thought, "what if I lose my period if I keep going, though? Do I care? Is that unhealthy?" and God answered with YOUR BLOG. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Namaste! Lisa

Debbie Took said...

Lisa, thank you so much for your feedback. Although personally I would never omit 'overt fats' from my diet, as I believe avocados, nuts etc to be excellent foods for man (or woman!), this obviously seems to be working for you right now.