Interview by Dr. Sherrill Sellman
Leslie Botha, Women’s Health Educator, author, publisher, and television and radio talk show host is a nationally recognized expert on women’s cycles. Botha is a member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research and the International Association of Human Caring.She currently is the host of two radio shows; titled “Holy Hormones Honey the Greatest Story Never Told!” on KRFC FM in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Botha has been researching the behavioral effects of the hormone cycle on women’s health and well-being for the past twenty-five years. In addition to her broadcast accomplishments, Botha also published a national and international magazine titled “Changing Woman Magazine.”
Dr. Sellman – What prompted you to begin your research in the field of women’s hormonal health?
Not unlike many women, years ago I had an appointment for an annual check up at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Fort Collins CO.I was so impressed by the quality of care and the information about women’s health that was shared with patients that I became a volunteer, then a staff member and a medical assistant.I worked there for five years.During that time, the director of the clinic invited me to read the library of women’s books that were in her office.And for the first time in my life – women’s roles; my role, my identity and values made sense.I was reading books written by women for women about history, mythology, religion, archaeology, and political and social conditions.I became president of the Fort Collins Chapter of the National Organization for Women and was very active in the HLA and ERA campaigns.I also was a member of the Larimer County Task Force on Women’s Issues – and co-chaired the committee of health care.But what really made an impact on me during that time – was my experience in the clinic.I had the opportunity to sit behind the desk and when women walked in for their appointments, I had their chart in hand and was amazed that month after month – to the day even – women were coming into the clinic for the same complaints; headaches, bacterial and viral infections, depression, anxiety, Herpes and genital wart outbreaks. What I observed was that a high percentage of the time – the onset of the symptoms were presenting during the premenstrual phase of the cycle.What was most shocking was that the women themselves were unaware of their month after month “cyclical” return to the clinic until I pointed out the dates that they had been in the clinic previously.
It seemed to me that if women were aware that hormonal changes in the post ovulatory phase of the cycle precipitated the symptoms they were experiencing in the premenstrual phase that they would be able to prevent the imbalances from occurring in the first place.
But this means that women need to be educated about their hormonal health.Not having this information/education leaves women of all ages victimized; trying to “control” their cyclical changes – most often by masking them with hormone regulators– which has become socially acceptable,instead of “trusting” and “living” with those changes; knowing that there is a rhythm to their body cycle that resonates with the rhythms of the universe.
It seems to me that women’s negative experience with the menstrual/hormone cycle are a large part socially induced by a culture that negates this experience as much as it negates women. Imagine if we were bringing our daughters into a culture that respected her body, her value and her perspectives on life.Wouldn’t it seem that her menstrual/hormonal experience might be different?
How did you compile your research?
Reading and observation.I have spent years, researching the information found in the women’s books that I read during my time at Planned Parenthood.Unfortunately without a required Women’s History course for all students, many women are unaware that our ancient foremothers were revered for the cyclical nature of the menstrual cycle and its ties to the lunar cycle.Or perhaps if we were aware, we have lost sight of what that really means.It is so much more than – ovulating with the full moon.The magnitude of this is something that I am just beginning to become aware of.I have researched physics, circadian rhythms, lunar cycles, life cycles, and planetary cycles – all to some degree.
In the past year I have become a distance learning student of theNew England School of Whole Health Education (NESWHE) under the direction of Dr. Georgianna Donadio.And just like reading the library of women’s books years ago, the program offered at NESWHE integrating the concept of body, mind, spirit in terms of one’s health and well being has impressed me greatly.It also resonates in my heart. People do not have to become victims of an over-stressed ecological/social system….we have a choice of being active participants in the heath and healing of not only those systems, but of our own spiritual, mental/emotional, environmental, nutritional and spiritual behaviors that hold us back from being vital, healthy, appreciative and connected with all of life around us.
What has made the foremost impact – was learning about the connectedness of all the systems of the body.How one imbalance will affect another and another; that there is a cause and effect to our health.Most importantly I have learned that all of these systems cycle – and that cycle is based on the circadian rhythm whose pulsating energy enters into the body through the pineal gland in the brain and is transmitted to every cell throughout the body.
From the tiniest microcosm in our body to the largest macrocosm – which is the universe within which we live – we are all cycling.As Above- So Below.
How important is this information to women’s hormonal health?
Drastically important.We are living in a time when medications/drugs are being pushed by an industry onto uneducated women, men and children that dupes them into believing that the synthetic medications – experimental in many cases will cure their ills.Women especially become victimized by the pharmaceutical industry.We stand by and watch our daughters prescribed the birth control pill – whether or not she is sexually active to “regulate the hormone cycle” and we ourselves are prescribed as we enter perimenopause to help “regulate our hormone cycle”.
Not only that, the introduction of new hormone regulators such as Seasonale which willact in a similar way to traditional BCPswill limit a woman’s hormone cycle to four times a year.This newly introduced birth control medication was introduced to the women’s market after only one year of testing by the pharmaceutical company that is manufacturing it. And of course, women will be prescribed this latest BCPfor many years at a time.There have not been any studies to determine what the side effects will be after one year of use.And from what I have read the study itself was drastically flawed – and many women were dropping out of the study early because of the side effects that they were having with Seasonale. This is not acceptable. But Seasonale is being touted at the latest and best in birth control.According to proponents of menstrual suppression – periods are unnecessary.According to other menstrual cycle research experts, “Women’s health care is the largest uncontrolled experiment in the history of medicine.”
Look at what happened to HRT.Thirty years after HRT was introduced to the market, the Women’s Health Institute (>WHI) finally did an independent study of the risk vs. benefits of using HRT therapy.In July of 2002, the study was abruptly halted – and a press release was immediately issued stating that the risks of using HRT far outweighed the benefits for the women taking it.
It was at this time, I realized that my work and research was going to be relevant and important.In fact a nurse attending one of my workshops at a conference in Boulder, CO commented;“Ten – twenty years ago, no one would have paid attention to your work – because everyone was so pill happy.”In fact, the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research expressed concern at their 1999 conference in Tucson AZ that in ten years there may no longer be a hormone cycle.Young girls will be placed at an earlier and earlier age on BCP’s, they will be given a window of opportunity to have children, and then go back on BCP’s and finally “graduate” onto HRT’s.And as things are progressing – we are well on the way to suppressing menstrual cycles all together.
Let’s take a moment and examine what has happened to the billion dollar revenue loss suffered by each pharmaceutical manufacturer that was affected by the downfall of HRT, – even though, from what I have read, HRT use is on the rise again.
Bottom line is that corporations are in business to generate revenue and to show a profit.If one of their products fails in the marketplace it will mean a serious threat to their revenues – which of course, must be reported back to the shareholders.So they go back to product development.The marketing department will have their say and point out – accurately, the market where the product failed, in this case HRT, is no longer viable.The company has lost their credibility with women who did experience more side effects from taking HRT than the symptoms that they were trying to get rid of. Older women have become educated, wise and wary.Next step?Develop a new market for a new product.An uneducated market is best.How about the teen market – and the women in their twenties and thirties who are choosing to prolong pregnancy.And thus, Seasonale was introduced.Production increased, revenues skyrocketed and the shareholders are happy.
So where is the concern for women’s health?Not from the pharmaceutical industry.Not from the doctors who take free samples, and gifts and vacations that are sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.
If one stops to ponder this is not unlike what the tobacco industry did when their product failed in an aging but wiser market that were aware that the risks outweighed the addiction.The tobacco company turned around developed a new name for their cigarettes, a new marketing plan and a new market – teenagers; our daughters and sons.
How do we change this industry that has taken over our health care?By becoming educated about our hormonal health.By understanding that women’s cycles are not a problem, Illness or a cause of disease.
Let’s get back to the importance of understanding cycles in people’s lives; specifically in regard to women’s health care.
Simply stated, when everything in our world is cycling and maintaining homeostasis (balance) and we –women, men and children are not understanding the important concept of becoming connected; living with life cycles – we become out of balance; dis-eased.
Dr. Paul Pearsall, Ph.D. has written a fascinating book titled The Heart’s Code Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy.”It is a wonderful thought provoking read.Dr. Pearsall’s life experience and background led him to compile research on heart transplant recipients and their donors.What he found is that many times the recipient not only receives the organ, but the organ contains cells which contain the donor’s memory.He cites example after example of life changes that heart recipients go through that can be clearly documented as a result of the donor’s cellular memory.
Dr. Pearsall also believes that cellular memory is based on the Circadian rhythm – as I stated earlier in the interview.
“Our heart seems to share its code with all systems of the universe.Poets and scientists know that we pulsate with energy and that this rhythm and pulsation are intrinsic to all life.Scientists can observe bacterial “biorhythms” as they look at their tiny cilia pulsating under their microscopes.There are alternating cycles of photosynthesis and responses in plants, and the soil constantly changes and shifts its composition to its own natural rhythm.If you learn to tap into the heart’s code, you will be tapping in to the code that is the life force of all systems.As a result, you will be able to sense the steady heartbeat of the forests, flowers and rocks.
Our body operates in a circadian rhythm, and our body bioenergy has its own cyclical rythmicity. Since all life is both biorhythmic and info-energetically rhythmic, and scientists know that rhythmic energy contains information, every oscillation of our heart represents the resonance of nature’s code within us.Author Ernest Bennett describes this phenomenon as continuing contests of opposites including birth and death, give and take, night and day, summer and winter, work and play, love and hate.Each of these contests of opposites are represented in the systolic/diastolic contractions of the heart.”
The Heart’s Code –Tapping into the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy
Paul Pearsall, Ph.D.
My concern is that since we live in a society where we are moving at an extremely fast pace; based on a linear calendar/pattern that dictates that we live hour after hour, day after day, week after week and month after month at the same frenetic pace and rate – and in the process we have lost our memory about the cyclical nature of life….other than the holidays come once a year.Most of us do not even see the moon in the sky let alone are aware that its light and energy are directly influencing our lives. Statistics on the rise in emergency room and jail admissions on the full moon prove that beyond a doubt!
If we are forgetting the cyclical lunar influence – then perhaps our cells in our bodies are also forgetting.If we are not living with and honoring the cyclical flow of our hormone cycle, is it any wonder that we are having problems?If you put a square tire on a round wheel – will it work?
If the body is striving to cycle – knowing deep in its memory that there is a time to give and a time to receive; i.e., time to be active and a time to rest and be nurtured – and we are running full force day in and day out, the cells in our body will have to adapt for the body to survive – since survival is its number one concern.
So perhaps, instead reproducing cells with cyclical memories, we begin producing free radicals, cells without memory of the circadian rhythm of life.And perhaps these free radicals start feeding off the weaker cycling cells whose memory is getting more fragile.Perhaps this is one yet-to-be explored reason as to why cancer is on such a dramatic rise.
In fact, a parallel could be drawn between the production of free radicals- cells without a cyclical memory and our own lives.Think of how many of us act like “free radicals” in our everyday life.We are on the go constantly, stressed, distraught and feeding off of each other and the ecosystem that sustains us. We have forgotten about the interconnectedness of life and use and abuse the resources.Not unlike a free radical.Industry is a great example.Corporations have become so omnipotent that they feed off the people in the name of helping them; destroying the ecosystem –while fattening their own coffers.As Within- As Without!
See how this all ties in?
Back to women’s health and cycles
It is up to the women!Just like we have always known – and once again beginning to remember.
Our hormonal cycle is an integral link to our cycling universe.To deny this fact is to deny our womanhood.Which is exactly why women are struggling on a physical, mental/emotional and spiritual level.We are desperately trying to adapt to a linear society, forgetting the importance of our cyclical nature.
Einstein’s Theory on the Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy states that: energy and matter cannot be created nor destroyed, only transformed again and again.This is an important concept to absorb and reflect on.It means that humans are cycling with the universe from the moment that time began to the moment that this universe ends. Life as we know it is one big cycle.We need to remember that.And the cells of our body need to remember that to stay whole, healthy and balanced.God/Goddess may have given us Free Will – but He/She never said that we would be healthy if we did not choose His/Her path!
Women’s hormone cycles are innately tied to the rhythms of the universe.The Dance of Life is what I call it.Our menstrual cycle is a physical manifestation of cycling with the ebb and flow of the universe.
I have created a model titled, Female Mystique The Three Phases of Eve – where I use a diagram to explain that the Maiden, Mother, Wise Woman passage of our life are the same phases that we pass through each month.Not unlike how the lunar cycle passes through the same phases each month; Waxing, Full and Waning.
There is a great deal of information posted on the Internet about the influence the lunar cycle has on our lives – many of which are posted on my website, www.holyhormones.comI just read a line from another web site about lunar cycles – that I fell in love with:
“Begin each month with the New Moon”
This is so true.New Moon, equates to New Beginnings, just as the first day of our menstrual period is known as the first day of a new cycle.It is also noted as a new beginning.Just as one cannot see the first day or so of the NewMoon (the moon is actually at its darkest point at this phase) a woman’s hormones are also lowest during menstruation.Within a couple of days there is a beautiful sliver of a crescent moon shining by day five or six of our new cycle our hormones also start rising peaking with ovulation – and, yes, just as the moon reaches its fullest peak.
When the moon wanes, and women are past ovulation, we also begin to wane as we approach the “premenstrual phase of the cycle.Our hormone levels drop, the immune system is suppressed -and just as life on the planet wanes during this lunar phase, our body is also attempting to slow down.However, we all know that our life styles dictate that we keep racing forward to some imaginary finish line….that we never seem to get to anyway.
This constant pushing forward is causing our bodies to become fatigued an imbalanced.If we continue on this downward trend of fatigue, our bodies will begin to falter and myriads of manifestations of imbalance and illness take place on all levels.
The most famous section in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (from King James’ Version) is a beautiful parable that speaks of the cycles of life.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; ….”
There is a time to give and a time to receive” is another well known parable.
Yes, it is.For it means simply that from the new moon to the full moon – we can give, move mountains, create, envision – be active.From the full moon through the waning phase of the new moon on the other side of the cycle, is a time to rest, be nurtured, reflect – what goals were accomplished in the last cycle and what goals need to be accomplished in the next.
When one understands this – one begins to realize that “Shit Does Not Happen”.There is a rhythm and knowing and trusting that comes with living with one’s hormone cycle.For menopausal women – living with the lunar cycle is the most stable cycle they will ever experience!Now wonder all of us menopausal women are coming to realize the power in our lives at this phase of our life.No wonder we are known as “Wise Women”.It was at this age that our mothers and grandmothers imparted their wisdom to us.It is now time for us to reflect on our life experience so that we may share that knowledge and wisdom that we have gained with our daughters and granddaughters.
Women’s menstrual cycles are hardly ever in synch with the lunar cycle.
That is true.Which is why women must understand where they are in their hormone cycle inrelation to where the moon is in its lunar cycle.Many times the moon is the reason for conflicting feelings that a woman experiences during her menstrual cycle.For example if a woman has her period during the Full Moon – her body will be in direct opposition to the pull of the moon which will generate feelings of frustration, indecisiveness etc.
You have found research along the way to back up your theory?
Oh, yes! And from many different sources.My book, titled “Holy Hormones Honey!The Greatest Story Never Told” will be published next year. I would like to share with you and your readers two small pieces/”blurbs” that appeared in Glamour and McCall’s Magazine in the early 1990’s that really propelled me on this journey.I just happened to stumble on both pieces – which I believe should have made headline world-wide news instead of just an “Oh, by the way”.All of the information below – can be found on my web site.
Glamour Magazine – 1990
“Keeping in step with your body’s natural rhythms could add years to your life, especially is you are one of the 40,000 to 50,000 pre-menopausal women who will face breast cancer surgery this year. According to a recent Lancet study report on a twelve year study of forty-one women with breast cancer, those whose surgery is performed near the times of ovulation are four to five times less likely to suffer relapse and death than those who are operated on during or nearer their menstrual period.”
Why the dramatic difference? Researcher William J.M. Hrushesky, M.D., senior oncologist at the Albany VA Medical Center in Albany, N.Y., speculates that a woman’s immune defenses are likely to vary with her menstrual cycle and may become most potent with ovulation. So her ability to fight disease may be significantly higher that point of her cycle.”
McCall’s Magazine reported on the same study in a 1993 issue.
“While most women hardly need to be told that their hormone cycle affects
their body; few of us suspected it could make the difference between life and death. But research with breast-cancer patients is starting to suggest that scheduling a patient’s surgery according to her cycle may increase her chances of being cured. And that’s just the most prominent example to emerge from a small but growing exploration of the relationship between women’s monthly hormonal changes and common illnesses, ranging from migraines to irritable bowel syndrome.”
Within the last two years, I found out about another study that was conducted from 1998 – 2001 titled the Timing of Breast Cancer Surgery, Menstrual Cycle and Prognosis” conducted by researchers at the University of California. This three-year study will follow 400 White, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian or Pacific Islander premenopausal women who will undergo surgery for breast cancer at four different hospitals (University of California San Diego, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles County-University of Southern California, and USC/Kenneth Norris) between July 1998 and June 2001. The researchers concluded that the timing of scheduling surgery based on where a woman is in her hormone cycle will affect the outcome of the surgery….and that surgeries scheduled at the time of ovulation were more successful than those scheduled at other times.
I asked one of the members of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research why the results of this study were not published in the media.Her response to me was that every attempt was made to gain media attention–but the media was just not interested.
Intentional denial by the media to report news that empowers women’s lives, while continuing to portraying us as victims, restricting informative and timely education about our history and our health care is a crime against all of women.For too long we have been scheduling our surgeries according to someone else’s work or vacation or golf schedule – instead of listening to our bodies.
Let’s face it women – we have given away a lot of our power – and in return we (and our families) are maltreated by an industry that thrives on our ill health.What should be respected as a normal biological process of women’s lives has become industrialized and medicalized – and as a result, we have become traumatized and victimized.
Goddess or Victim – It is Our Choice.