Lewis County Naturopath Hopes Book Helps Women Find Help, Support Through Menopause


For her first published book, traditional naturopath Vanessa Nixon knew she wanted to tackle a subject that many people find hard to discuss but affects so many: menopause.

Through her naturopathic  work with her clients, Nixon said she realized that many felt invisible, unprepared and isolated when they began the phase that happens at the end of a woman’s fertility.

“When you don’t talk about something that at least 50 percent of the population is going to go through, that’s problematic,” Nixon said. “Grandmothers and mothers are not talking to their daughters about it and we don’t know what to expect.”

Nixon recently published “Meno-Morphosis: Rituals, Spells and Natural Remedies for Peri, Mid and Postmenopausal Women,” a book she said is an appropriate read for any woman age 35 or older, no matter what stage inside or outside menopause they find themselves in.

“If you are 35, you can start now so you can have a more joyful experience and you can feel more empowered during some of the rougher portions,” Nixon said. “If you’re in menopause or are past it, there are still many ways we can support ourselves naturally so we can fully embrace who we are.”

Nixon’s interest in natural healing began with her own chronic illness as a teenager. She was overprescribed antibiotics, which made her condition even worse. A few years later, while telling a coworker about her health conditions, they asked “is it helping?” about her daily antibiotic dose. That question really changed her perspective, she said.

“That single question really was the first time I was able to ask myself that question,” Nixon recalled. “I didn’t think there could be a question of was it helping. You just did what you were told.”

Nixon found help and healing through a herbalist, which inspired her to want to learn more and perhaps help others. Nixon studied in the 1990s with herbalist Cascade Anderson Geller in Portland. Her first step was starting her own business, Herbs of Grace, first selling soaps, and later skin care and makeup using her herbal know-how.

She got back into learning more about natural healing in the early 2000s, earning a diploma in homeopathy and then a degree in traditional naturopathy. Nixon began seeing clients a few years ago as a traditional naturopath, with expertise in areas including nutritional healing, herbal medicine, vibrational modality, homeopathy and flower essence. She also teaches natural dance and movement at The Hive in Centralia. Nixon said what she loves best about working with clients, especially those experiencing the symptoms of menopause, is helping women take charge of their own health and wellbeing.

“As women, we have this innate wisdom and maternal instinct and I think in modern society we don’t think about it, but it’s real and when we do tap into that and trust that, it can be so empowering and really lead us down a path that’s meant for our lives,” Nixon said.

Unlike a trip to a traditional Western medicine doctor, Nixon explained that a visit with a naturopath emphasizes physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

“It’s so much more than coming in for an office visit,” Nixon said. “I want to be able to really get to the root cause of their pain.”

In the same vein, women journeying through menopause can experience both physical and emotional symptoms that must be dealt with to help the whole person. And that starts with talking about what can be for many people a taboo subject. 

Nixon said one reason for the hesitancy to talk about menopause could come from the notion that menopause is closely related to death. A hundred years ago, the average life expectancy for a woman was just 63, so that life phase may have been more closely linked with the end of someone’s life. 

Today, 80 percent of centenarians are women and the average lifespan of women in the U.S. is 80, meaning that women in menopause today may only be one-half to one-third through their life. Nixon said she loves that in traditional Chinese medicine, menopause is called the second spring.

“It’s the birth of the whole second half of your life,” Nixon said. “I want women to know what’s happening so they’re as healthy as possible in the second half of their life.”

Nixon added that menopause can be a hard subject because of the extreme focus on youth culture in America. And since menopause is the end of a woman’s reproductive years, for women who waited until much later in life to start families, it can bring grief over the family they envisioned for themselves. But Nixon pointed to cultures where multiple generations of women live together and share wisdom and mature women are revered for their knowledge and life experience.

“The Dalai Lama once said that it is the Western women who will change the world,” Nixon said. “I believe it’s the mature Western woman because she’s the one who has the wisdom and the life experience.”

Nixon said the idea for a book about menopause had been in her head for quite some time and after working with a writing coach, she realized she had at least half of the book already written down. She added she has ideas for about three other books and intends to start working on the next one in the next year or so. For now, she said she is focusing on celebrating the completion of this book and hopes to eventually be able to offer in-person workshops surrounding the subject of menopause.

“My hope is that this book will kind of start the conversation and encourage women to seek out ways of creating community for themselves and the women around them that really need this support,” Nixon said.

Get the Book 

“Meno-Morphosis: Rituals, Spells and Natural Remedies for Peri, Mid, and Postmenopausal Women” by Vanessa Nixon is available for purchase at Book N’ Brush in Chehalis, Book Bone & Stone in Centralia and online at Amazon.com For more information, go to herbsofgracehealingarts.com.