Menopause is a woman's time of wisdom, power and knowledge. Cultural
background, diet, lifestyle, genetics and knowledge of the menopausal
process play key roles in how a woman will experience menopause.
The average age for a woman to cease having her menstrual cycle
and stop reproduction is 51.3 years of age, however, peri-menopause
can begin in the late thirties. An individualized process, no woman
experiences menopause in exactly the same way. Menopause symptoms
can range from none to many and last for varying lengths of time
up to a period of five-years.
The common symptoms of menopause can include none, some or all of
Vasomotor symptoms include insomnia, palpitations and hot flashes
or night sweats associated with headaches, itchy skin, dizziness,
weakness, numbness in arms or hands; low libido; vaginal changes
of dryness, itchiness, infections or painful sex; urinary infections
or incontinence; irregular bleeding; psychological factors, such
as, depression, anxiety, irritability, weeping, mood swings; cognitive
changes verbal and episodic forgetfulness; acne; hair loss; facial
hair; and weight gain due to a slower resting metabolic rate and
other factors. Osteoporosis is in fact not a symptom of menopause.
However it is associated with menopause because calcitonin, a thyroid
hormone necessary for bone growth, is reduced because of the lower
NATURAL METHODS: A to V
Women who choose not to use traditional hormone replacement therapy
(HRT) may choose to use natural methods to help alleviate menopausal
symptoms. These mind and body methods treat the whole person to
make menopause a more positive experience.
1. Aromatherapy works by using the sense of smell to generate
symptomatic relief of emotional and physical problems. Oils used
as a bath, perfume, massage or inhalant have shown positive results.
For example try these oils for these associated symptoms: hot flash
- rose or peppermint oil; fatigue -rosemary; low libido -cardamom;
vaginal dryness -neroli or geranium; urinary incontinence -eucalyptus;
emotional stress -lavender or jasmine; and for overall relief -lemon
balm, rose or cypress.
2. Deep Breathing and focusing on the breath activates the
major quieting nerve of the body -the vagus nerve. This helps to
immediately lower blood pressure, heart, pulse, and respiratory
rates to aid in reducing anxiety and overall stress.
3. Diet is one of the most important keys to help menopause.
In parts of India, China and Africa they do not experience hot flashes.
Lesser menopause symptoms are experienced in countries whose cultures
eat a mostly vegetarian, high fiber, low fat diet. It also includes
leafy green vegetables and fatty acids, such as flaxseed or evening
primrose oil, (which have estrogen properties). They also avoid,
eliminate or reduce caffeine, refined sugar, refined flour and grains,
salt, alcohol, nicotine, dairy products, spicy foods, artificial
colorings, flavorings and preservatives.
4. Education about the menopausal process is the first defense
against menopausal symptoms. In the past, menopause was shrouded
in mystery and often viewed as a negative experience and a precursor
to death. In previous generations our life span was shorter and
communication about menopause was considered an unmentionable subject.
Menopause is a natural part of life. Eliminate its mystery and misconceptions
and women are better prepared to handle the outcome.
5. Exercise helps to minimize and eliminate menopausal symptoms,
as well as, osteoporosis. Try yoga, aerobics or walking for thirty
(30) minutes, three times a week.
6. Herbs are part of nature's pharmacy. Herbs have many different
properties and certain herbs have phytoestrogen (plant estrogens)
qualities. For example try these herbs for these associated symptoms:
hot flash and night sweats -red clover, chaste berry (vitex) or
black cohash; low libido -panax ginseng or damiana; vaginal dryness
and tissue weakness -yellow dock, motherwort, or raspberry leaf
and calendula cream; urinary incontinence- garlic, cranberry and
saw palmetto; hormonal balance -black cohash, anise, licorice root,
wild yam cream; and emotional stress -St. John's wort, kava, dong
quai, blessed thistle.
7. Homeopathy was discovered in the 1700ís and is
based on unblocking the body's own healing system. Homeopathy is
a non-toxic therapy with no known side effects. It is safe to use
in conjunction of traditional, medical, psychological and physical
8. Phytoestrogens are found in plants and activate estrogen
receptors. There are 3 types of natural estrogen found in plants:
resorcyclic acid lactones found in rice, corn, barley and wheat
which contain beta estradiol; steroidal estrogen found in rice,
date palms and licorice which are identical to the estrone and estradiol
produced in the body; and phenolics which come in different classes
and include isoflavones. In menopause isoflavones can buffer symptoms
of estrogen loss and with the highest sources of isoflavones being
found in red clover, flaxseed, and soybeans. Other sources include
beans, lentils, black-eyed peas and phytoestrogen herbs.
9. Positive Attitude does the most for menopause. We are
what we think and a positive attitude helps the physical body combat
symptoms. Without fighting change (and this includes any change)
the emotional transition becomes easier.
10. Sexual Activity provides physical benefits for menopause.
It is good exercise and helps hormonal levels, vaginal muscle tone
11. Smoking Cessation may cause earlier menopause and smokers
may experience higher changes in vaginal atrophy.
12. Vitamin, Mineral and Supplement therapy can help support
the body in obtaining relief from menopausal symptoms. A good multi-vitamin/mineral
supplement, which includes digestive enzymes, green foods and amino
acids, helps the adrenal glands to lessen emotional symptoms and
keeps the immune system of the body working at peak performance.
Here are some vitamin/mineral/supplement alternatives per symptom:
hot flash - Vitamin E (Remember that D-alphatocopherol is preferred
over synthetic vitamin E), lecithin, Vitamin C, bioflavinoids. Some
studies have found that taking 1200mg.of bioflavinoids and vitamin
C have reduced and eliminated hot flash; low libido -B complex and
octaconsal; vaginal dryness -evening primrose oil; urinary incontinence
-vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, l-glycine, l-carnitine and evening
primrose oil; emotional stress -B complex, B12, melatonin, 5HTP,
l-tyrosine, zinc, l-arginine, l-lysine, silica, potassium, chromium
and bee pollen; hormonal balance-B complex, DHEA, manganese and
13. Visualization and self-hypnosis puts the intention of
healing to work using the mind-body connection. Using positive images,
visualization helps to produce positive emotions that turn into
physical sensations in the body. A good example of how this works
is if you imagine yourself at a scary movie, when you become afraid,
goose bumps appear on your skin. Visualization does the same thing
except it uses positive suggestion and images to produce positive
changes in the body. Usually done once in the morning and before
bedtime for 6 weeks visualization can help eliminate or minimize
menopausal physical and emotional symptoms.
Since everyone's body is different, not one method will work for
everyone. Woman can make the choice for natural alternatives. They
can be women of power, wisdom and knowledge.
PDR for Herbal Medicines, (Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Co.,
Hobbs, L.Ac., Christopher& Keville, Kathi, Woman's Herbs, Woman's
Health ( Loveland, CO: Botanica Press, 1998)
Tisserand, Maggie, Aromatherapy for Women, (Rochester, VT: Healing
Balch,M.D., James F. and Balch C.N.C., Phyllis A., Prescriptions
for Nutritional Healing, Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing
Null, Gary, Get Healthy Now! , (New York, NY: Seven Stories Press,1999)
Goldstein, M.D., Steven and Ashner, Laurie, Could It Be Peri-Menopause,
(Toronto, Canada: Little, Brown and Company, 1998
Mackenzie, Linda, C.H.T., Help yourself heal with self-hypnosis,(New
York, NY: Sterling Publishing, 2000)