When women reach menopause, they experience various physiological changes, many of which can have a significant influence on their lives. Hot flashes, nightly sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, and exhaustion are all common menopausal symptoms. Fortunately, integrative medicine has a lot to offer in terms of treating them.
Mind Over Matter
Regardless of the symptom, your attitude has a big role in how successfully you adjust to menopause. The first point to keep in mind is that menopause is not a sickness. It is a typical part of a woman’s life cycle defined by menopause as a result of the ovary’s normal drop in estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones. Most symptoms are temporary and fade away over two to five years. You’ll be able to accept and adjust to menopause more easily if you think of it as a normal transition to the next stage of life.
It can cause major upsets in your daily routine, as well as the temptation to “fix” the problem with untested therapies that promise eternal youth.
Hot flashes normally start when your periods become irregular and last for one or two years after menstruation has stopped. Some women feel flushing or warmth in their faces and upper bodies while others sweat and get chills. Hot flashes can strike at any hour of the day or night.
While the exact cause of hot flashes is unknown some experts believe it has something to do with confusing signals from the hypothalamus brain area that regulates body temperature and sex hormones. The hypothalamus must be responding to lower estrogen production which might explain why a woman’s hot flashes stop when she takes estrogen replacement. To get relief naturally, do the following:
- Avoid Triggers: Hot or spicy foods, alcohol, warm temperatures, hot beverages, and mental stress can all cause hot flashes.
- Schedule an acupuncture session: Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina have discovered that acupuncture successfully reduced the frequency of hot flashes with the benefits lasting for six months after treatment ended.
- Experiment with different herbs: Although it isn’t helpful for everyone black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is one of the most well-studied traditional herbs for hot flashes and is a safe alternative. It is thought to interact with neurotransmitters including serotonin and norepinephrine although it has no estrogenic action. Other botanicals that may be useful include chaste berry, licorice root, fennel, and Dong Quai, which are recognized for their capacity to maintain hormonal balance in both China and the West.
- Eat whole soy foods: Consume soy foods in their natural state. They may assist because of the phytoestrogens they contain. Two portions of entire (organic) soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, or soy milk, should be consumed daily.
During the night, many women experience intense hot flashes accompanied by heavy sweating also called hyperhidrosis. Sweats might wake you up from a sound sleep causing tiredness during the day (see next page for ways to address fatigue.) Night sweats may be relieved by following the hot flashes guidelines above. Consider the following suggestions as well:
- Keep your surroundings cool: Don’t underestimate the impact of just keeping yourself and your bedroom cooler than usual. Choose breathable cotton sleepwear. Use fans and keep the temperature low.
- Milk thistle is a good option: Milk thistle is “possibly beneficial in decreasing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats by around 70% when administered in conjunction with extracts of black cohosh, Dong Quai, red clover, American ginseng, and chaste berry.” According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. While it is usually considered safe it can occasionally produce an allergic response or moderate stomach distress as well as interfere with certain drugs so consult your doctor first. Women with estrogen-related disorders such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or a history of hormone-related malignancies should avoid this plant.
Mood swings are a common occurrence
Menstrual irregularity can show as rapid inexplicable shifts in mood ranging from happiness to irritation, rage, anxiety, or melancholy when ovulation becomes unpredictable. While the majority of women do not develop a serious mood problem after menopause when emotional reactions do arise they can be stressful. Mind-body activities like yoga and meditation as well as physical activity can go a long way toward boosting mood. These natural methods might also be beneficial:
- Adaptogens should be used: Rhodiola studies suggest that they can assist with mild-to-moderate depression and generalized anxiety. Rhodiola root includes rosavins which appear to increase the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain and may be responsible for the herb’s mood-boosting properties studies have shown that they can reduce anxiety and tiredness.
- Take holy basil: For example, This herb (Ocimum Sanctum) often known as tulsi is considered sacred in India. It’s a cousin of our culinary basil, but with a stronger love-like scent and flavor. It’s also good as a tea. It has a calming effect on the mind and can be used alongside antidepressants.
- Increase your turmeric intake: The yellow spice that gives curry and yellow mustard their color in animal models has shown promise as an antidepressant. Use black pepper to boost absorption when adding it to meals. If you wish to take turmeric supplements seek ones that contain piperine (Bioperine) the active ingredient in black pepper.
Menopause has no reason to make you less interested in or enjoy sex, although vaginal dryness can make it more difficult. Replens Vaginal Moisturizer and lubricants like Astroglide are two over-the-counter treatments that can assist. A topical estrogen gel, which restores normal vaginal tissue can also be prescribed by your doctor.