In the third of our three week series of blogs on dealing with the difficulties of peri-menopause and menopause, I want to focus on natural remedies - some of which are regarded as "alternative" or "complementary".
Below is a whistle stop round up of some of the things we can try, with case studies and advice from a variety of therapists:
Personally, I found cutting back on sugar and eating a diet abundant with fresh vegetables and fruit really helped to reduce hot flushes and night sweats.
Here's what Shannon Howe, Nutritional Therapist at I Cook, You Serve has to say:
"The changes that our bodies go through in a lifetime are far reaching, it is remarkable how some women breeze through these changes whilst others feel like they are wading through treacle. And whilst you can’t control these changes, you can use nutrition as your weapon to alleviate symptoms such as a decline in bone density, increased risk of disease and of course hot flushes.
Interesting fact – in Japan they don’t have a word for hot flushes, this is attributed to the high amount of soy and vegetable protein in their diet. Following the example of the Asian diet, limiting your intake of added sugars and processed foods and increasing your soy and vegetable proteins, the plant compounds mimic some of the biological activities in female hormones. Such as Tofu (which is soy), chickpeas (great roasted with Cajun and turmeric) lentils, and nuts and seeds – perfect for snacking on but they don’t count if they’re covered in salt. Crack open the tofu and cuddle up to a chickpea and hopefully your hot flushes will be a thing of the past."
I asked Michelle Riches RSHom Classical Homeopath about the role of Homeopathy in managing menopausal symptoms.
"Homeopathic Medicine helps to balance hormones and you don’t need to keep taking it. Here is a quote from one of my patients who had menopausal hot flushes …
‘’I have become more emotional and angry. The hot flushes at night make me angry, I thought my husband had put the heating on, I was so angry with him, the bedroom was freezing but I was so hot, sometimes I stay up as I can’t get back to sleep. I’m hot in the day too, feels like someone has put petrol on me, I feel ablaze from my feet up to my head! I’m wearing a t-shirt in the day and opening the windows and doors, the rest of the family have blankets on they are so cold, they feel they need coats and hats on!’’
At the first follow up appointment after taking Homeopathic Medicine ‘’The hot flushes used to happen without a reason, now they only happen when I eat spices or have a coffee. At night I only get a hot flush between 3-4 am now.’’ Second follow up appointment ‘’No hot flushes!’’
I treat my patients individually, not one size fits all, everyone can experience the menopause differently and there may be some other areas of your health that needs balancing at the same time.
It is natural for the body to change, embracing this change with natural support to balance the hormones is what I offer, listening to how you are affected mentally, emotionally and physically is important in treating you."
"The endocrine system is mapped on the plantar surface of the foot (the mapping has been done by western scientists/therapists over the last century - working on eastern foot maps centuries old) By stimulating the various endocrine points on each foot (they're mirrored) and then working points on both feet simultaneously this can bring the system in to homeostasis.
But it's not a quick fix and regular treatments are the best way forward."
Ann Foley, Owner, The Feel Good Factory Holistics
Pragna Soni, owner of Core Body Balance, has this to day about Acupuncture:
"Our body is a balanced triangle of physical, emotional and chemical elements. It is about the balance between Yin and Yang and the flow of energy. Women have major hormonal changes again when they reach the menopausal stage. Alternative therapies, combined with acupuncture, helps in bringing the balance back to that triangle and the balance between yin and yang.
It helps with sleep, sweating, anxiety, body aches, fatigue and also digestive issues too. The body has its own intelligence to heal itself and maintain the balance and flow of energy, however in this day and age, we are surrounded with lots of stress which throws the body out of balance and alignment and with holistic therapy we try and bring the balance back so the body can heal itself."
"Hormonal Release the Bowen Way is a gentle touch Therapy that supports rebalancing of hormones to ease menopausal symptoms and other hormonal problems such as menstrual cramps and endometriosis."
Monica Texeira Tebbut. from The Healing Art of Chi
Cathrine Cook-Loftus and Johnathan Cook of SpoilAll (DoTerra) describe the role essential oils can play in rebalancing hormones:
"Some essential oils can also exert beneficial effects to help manage symptoms of hormonal changes:
- Clary Sage: Helps ease muscle tension,lifts mood and balances hormones.
- Lavender: Calms and supports normal hormone levels
- Bergamot: Emotionally uplifting, helps ease muscle tension
- Roman Chamomile: Relaxes and helps ease muscle tension
- Cedarwood: supports normal hormone levels
- Ylang Ylang: helps with stress, phytoestrogenic
- Geranium: helps balance endocrine system, calming, phytoestrogenic
The use of adaptogens such as gingeseng, turmeric. and, particularly in the case of menopausal symptoms, ashwagandha have long been used in the Ayurvedic healing tradition to bring the body back into balance (homeostasis)
We will be covering the role exercise plays in maintaining health in more detail. over the coming weeks. For now, knowing that weight bearing exercise helps fend off osteoporosis, yoga can enable us to stay supple and cardiovascular exercise (as in anything that raises our heart rate) is known to keep the heart healthy, raise the mood and help to keep weight at reasonable levels is enough to pull out the plimsolls!
Looking at our diet and exercise seems to me to be a no brainer at this time in our lives. In addition, whilst complementary therapists aren't allowed to make medical claims for their modalities and some have been more well researched than others, it is encouraging to see that there many things we can try to support ourselves during our midlife transition.
As with HRT and BHRT, it's important to do your own research. What works for one woman might not work for another - the trick, I believe, is to keep and open mind and try different things. We don't have to simply accept feeling under par.