Managing Menopause with Eastern Medicine
Healthy Living Blog
By Dr. Rachelle Tetreault
Menopause can be a smooth transition into a new phase of life for women. Median age is around 51 but can be much earlier depending on many factors and lifestyles. For many women, this time of life can play havoc on sleep habits, temperature control, and even emotions. In Eastern Medicine, menopausal symptoms are looked upon as yin deficiency with deficiency heat. Often signs may include hot flashes, night sweats, body temperature fluctuations, and irritability. Other kidney yin deficiency signs which may or may not be related to menopause are dryness of skin and loss of skin elasticity throughout the body, diabetes, chronic hepatitis, frequent urination and incontinence, chronic nephritis or weakening of the kidneys, blurry vision, even glaucoma, and macular degeneration. These symptoms or disorders all are typically characterized by dryness, weakness, and even atrophy of certain glands or organs. These types of disorders are diagnosed as yin deficiency.
The goals of treatment are to help regulate the endocrine functions and overall naturally balance hormones. Other goals are to restore normal function of internal organs such as kidneys, bladder, pancreas, and liver. With Eastern Medicine, this is done by nourishing both the liver and kidney yin and controlling exacerbations or flare-ups of yin deficient heat signs. The herbal formulas used to help regulate hormones during menopause are both effective and safe. In fact, the main herbals used have been found to naturally help protect the body by reducing the risk of both breast cancer and cardiovascular diseases as opposed to western pharmaceutical hormone therapies. This proves differently in western therapies for menopause which can increase breast cancer up to 30 percent. Herbal formulas work in alignment with the body allowing balance and regulation without increasing risks.
Food therapy for yin deficiency patients should include all the variety of colors of fruits and vegetables with high-fiber whole grains and nuts as part of daily regimen. Drinking warm liquids with meals as opposed to cold or iced drinks help the digestive system which keeps the spleen energy working optimally for both nutrient absorption and digestion. Nourishing yin foods such as yam, beets, melons, cucumbers, and radish. Other foods which are very helpful include sesame seeds, tofu, black beans, walnuts, and goji berries. Avoid spicy fand spices. Consuming more vegetables and less meat allows more yin nourishment into the body. Eating a lot of organic fruits and vegetables will help maintain this balance more adequately. Blackstrap molasses, broccoli, kelp, salmon and sardines with bones, and whitefish are all very beneficial due to the nutrient denseness of these foods.
During perimenopause, the body is preparing for actual menopause and hormone production begins to slow down. Typically, hormone production can start to slow down at the age of 30s and continue to diminish. At this time, many women may suffer from a variety of symptoms. These may include heart palpitations, headaches, bloating, mood swings, loss of libido, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, irritability and many more. There needs to be a good balance maintained between both estrogen and progesterone at this time. Often, chaste tree oil is a great choice to provide proper progesterone levels during perimenopause.
Estrogen is important for the body and the diminished supply of this precious hormone increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, vaginal atrophy, and osteoporosis. Foods rich in phytoestrogens such as soybeans, whole grains, apples, parsley, fennel, flaxseeds, nuts, and celery are very beneficial. Foods rich in calcium are encouraged to help prevent the beginning of osteoporosis. These include dandelion greens, seaweed, sardines with edible bones, chickweed, amaranth, and nettle. Staying active and certain exercises can also help decrease the risk for osteoporosis. Soybeans are a great source of natural estrogen. Soy protein at 30 grams a day is greatly helpful in relieving hot flashes as well as protecting against both osteoporosis and heart disease.
Essential fatty acids should be included in daily diet regimen as well as Vitamin B complex, vitamin E, and zinc. Essential fatty acids found in foods like fish, olive oil, avocado, walnuts also help as natural sedatives and diuretics. These are good for hot flashes and natural estrogen production. Zinc helps in protecting against bone loss and overall symptoms of menopause.
Though men do not undergo menopause, they do experience symptoms which are often referred to as male menopause. This is typically seen in mid-life age or around age 40, where men may notice their sex drive may weaken, and moodiness becomes more frequent. This can be seen also with depression and anxiety signs due to lower levels of testosterone. Eastern medicine addresses this imbalance with both acupoints given to balance the endocrine system and herbal formulas which help naturally regulate testosterone. Food therapy is also given which are foods typically considered kidney yang food tonics. These include many nuts, kidney beans, ginger, chestnuts, dill seed, pistachio, shrimp, oyster, lobster, and thyme.
So, whether male or female, menopausal, or perimenopausal, much can be done to balance the body and help regulate the endocrine system through Eastern Medicine. Call today to begin your journey for optimal health. 772-626-6419