We speak to R&B soul singer and acupuncturist Babs Savage.
Team MM: Hi Babs! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m an R&B soul singer and I just picked up a Chicago Music Award for International Outstanding Contribution to Music. I’ve been singing since I was 16. I have three kids, (20, 17 and 14) and I have been married to Jon Moss of Culture Club. I became an acupuncturist after leaving drama school and I made a career of that for many years before I went back to singing.
Team MM: How did you get into acupuncture?
I had a very bad knee from an accident and I was told by the doctors that I would have to have an operation, but I was not going to have an operation, so I went for acupuncture and it really helped me. I went back again actually after I had been attacked, because as a result of that attack I had really bad insomnia and was also suffering from shock. It really, really helped me with that, very quickly as well, because the acupuncture can tap into spirit points and it can not only help the physical but it can help the emotional, and it can help the body memory recover much quicker. It’s really powerful like that and it made me think, ‘Wow, this is really amazing stuff! It can do physical and emotional?’
After leaving drama school (I decided acting wasn’t for me) I was too vulnerable to go back to singing because I’d sung already and I couldn’t deal with the male, gross kind of chauvinism that surrounds young women in the industry – so that wasn’t an option for me at that point. Then, I decided that I was fascinated and in love with acupuncture so, after a four-year degree course in English and Drama, I went straight into a three-year course in Chinese medicine.
Team MM: How does acupuncture help with the symptoms of the menopause?
Let’s start with the hot flushes: the hot flushes are often something called empty heat in women and there’s this sort of heat where there’s not enough ‘yin’ so the body fluids are lacking, they’ve juiced. So, what I do is help restore the yin deficiency affected during menopause. I help restore the blood and body fluids that are lacking during menopause. This helps with the empty heat condition and symptoms of heat rising and palpitations and hot flushes. And of course, all of the symptoms of body aches which occur with the lack of estrogen, they also start restoring themselves as well because you’re restoring that yin deficiency. That then starts feeding the joints and muscles and nourishes them.Acupuncture can help to smooth out those hormones that are imbalanced and this also helps with any emotional issues that a woman may be going through.
Team MM: How often should women go for treatments to best help them cope with their symptoms?
If somebody is suffering quite badly, what I say to them is go twice a week for the first couple of weeks, and then once a week. Or, they can go once a week for the first four weeks, and then once every two weeks, and then once a month. And then we see where it goes, depending on their symptoms.
Team MM: Do you think of the menopause as a taboo subject?
Yeah, I do. It’s a word that people associate with being ‘past it’. That has stopped us talking about it, because it has unattractive connotations, as in ‘yeah, this is the end of your female life, as it were’. So, I think it isn’t talked about.
Team MM: Do you feel that there is enough support in society for women going through the menopause?
There isn’t a lot of support, which is why what Meg is doing is great as she’s changing the perception of what menopause is. In a way, it’s a swap back to your child life. When you’re a child you aren’t as affected by all these hormones so I see it as a reverse, a new life almost. It can be a refreshing time because it can be the beginning of you going back to your life, pre-teenager! You’re freed up from much of the hormonal stuff. You have this new lease of life where you have more yang going on. And I think lots of women who are perimenopausal and postmenopausal go on to do amazing things because they’re not tied up to those hormones anymore. And that’s another way of looking at it as an attractive part of life. It’s not necessarily that we’re just getting old and we haven’t got the hormones that we should have. I’ve certainly found that in my own life, being a solo R&B singer, doing my singles and getting out there; I almost feel younger than I did before. I’m not going through menopause yet but I’m certainly approaching that time in my life.
And I think the other thing that is very important is to talk about it. Talking about stuff that might not be very attractive is actually very empowering and it makes it normal. We need to make this part of our lives much less stigmatised. Everyone goes through it God willing you live to that age. It’s a freeing up and a way of celebrating being a woman with all the wisdom that you’ve got that you didn’t have as a younger woman. You can be free to go out and do what you perhaps couldn’t do when you were having your kids. I say to my patients: “It’s a start of a new life; it might be the closing of one door but it’s definitely the opening of another!”