Treating Menopause Naturally
Menopause is like puberty, only not. It’s a natural part of aging, like puberty and like any change it can often be uncomfortable. It does not however need to be pathologic. Changes to lifestyle in particular diet along with supportive supplementation may offer the key to a gentle segue into and away from menopause.
Menopause is official when 12 months has lapsed without a menstrual period (and when marked levels of the hormone FSH occur with other menopausal signs). It “generally” occurs to women around 50 years of age. Shifts to the body in preparation for this are known as peri menopause and can occur 5-10 years before menopause is achieved.
These body shifts are typified by irregular menstrual periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood lability, sleep disturbances, weight gain and sometimes feelings of brain fog. Other symptoms can include: dry mouth, nose and eyes, sore breasts, headaches, dizziness, decreased libido, fatigue, nervousness, bladder incontinence.
Essentially what’s happening, is that estrogen stops being produced as it should, throwing a wrench into the symphony of regular hormone interplay. Many hormones rely on estrogen and its fluctuating concentrations and so without it, they fail to do their job properly or cause additional effects that likewise affect other hormones. Of course estrogen doesn’t just quit at once, it ebbs and flows, leading to peri menopausal symptoms.
Estrogen however is never completely gone, instead the values required post menopausal are maintained from ovary tissue and the adrenals. Because of this its important that your adrenal glands are robust enough to handle this extra duty.
Of course it’s always wise to consult your naturopathic doctor for personalized approaches to supporting your menopausal journey, however keep these in mind when considering your next steps.
1. Make Helpful Diet Choices
- In order to ensure that your digestion is in good working order (at least daily bowel movements and no gas / bloating / heart burn) you want to consume lots of phytoestrogens which can be found in flax, soy, tofu, nuts and seeds.
- Other beneficial foods include: black beans, kidney beans, lentils, millet, blueberries, raspberries
- It is important t to follow a low inflammatory diet (talk to a naturopathic doctor for food guidelines)
- You will also want to avoid (or at least significantly reduce) your intake of caffeine, chocolate and large amounts of red meat.
2. Incorporate Healthy Lifestyle Choices
- Get in 15 minutes of brisk cardio activity with 2 weight bearing exercises per week
- Consistent and restful sleep
- Manageable stress
- Good family / social support
- Regular acupuncture
- Supplements – as dosed by your health care provider (HCP)
- Vitamin C with bioflavenoids
- Calcium / magnesium
- Vitamin B
- Herbs – There are many excellent herb choices to support the body through menopause however interactions with your current medications and potential contraindications led me to caution use without the guidance of a HCP.
- Homeopathy – Selected by your individual needs. Complex homeopathy however is more general in its accommodations and has no side effects or interactions.
- Sepia plex (by Unda) & Pascofemin (by pascoe)
In summary, support your whole body through menopause to ease the journey. Treat your body to healthy food including eating plenty of greens. Reduce the effects of stress by giving yourself daily time to pause and reflect, to quiet your mind. Ask for help to lessen the amount of work if it is overwhelming or currently unmanageable. And remember, your hormones are interlinked so support them all to bring them back into balance.
The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Women’s Healthy by Dr. Sat Dharam Kaur, ND, Dr. Mary Danylak-Arhanic, MD, and Dr. Carolyn Dean, ND, MD.
Prousky, J. Principles and Practice of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition.CCNM Press: Toronto 2008