Naturopathic Changes to Help During the Menopause
It comes as a surprise to many people that the menopause, (which is a time of change in a woman's life when she stops menstruating) does not have to be a time of illness and distress.
There has been so much publicity regarding HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) that its easy to assume that all women need some form of drug intervention, during this time and indeed after the menopause too.
Although some women do experience symptoms around the menopause (such as hot flushes and mood swings and osteoporosis), not all women do. It is interesting that there is no word in Japanese for the menopause, and those symptoms we associate with this time of life occur far less in Japanese women. Many studies about the menopause have looked at the Japanese diet. The traditional Japanese diet is low in animal fats, and dairy foods and high in soya foods (including tofu, soya milk) and vegetables.
Hormone levels naturally change during the menopause. The level of oestrogen (a hormone) will naturally decrease, however a very low level of oestrogen is associated with many problems of the menopause. Some plants make substances similar to human oestrogen. These are called phytoestrogens; they can be converted in the body to human oestrogen. A group of phytoestrogens especially helpful are isoflavones. Isoflavones are found in soya beans, herbs, grains and other plants.
Studies show that isoflavones can improve menopausal symptoms. However the digestive system has to be healthy for this to happen. A diet high in vegetables and fruit will promote a healthy gut and help the absorption of isoflavones, whereas a high fat diet will not.
Be careful when taking supplements of phytoestrogens. Oestrogen taken in high amounts can put the body at risk of developing oestrogen dependant cancers such as breast cancer. It is safe to make changes in the diet. Eat a variety of soya products, vegetables, beans, fruit, seeds, almonds and olive oil. These nutrient rich foods will help decrease your likelihood of developing cancer and heart disease as well as easing menopausal symptoms.
Changes in diet and supplementation help rebalance your body enabling it to work better as a whole. This in turn helps many problems associated with the menopause. Fish oil has been found to give great relief, the best source of this is fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Both selenium and vitamin E can be effective in easing menopausal symptoms.
Hormonal levels are sensitive to any stress on the body especially during the menopause. I have found many women have relief from their hot flushes using relaxation, exercise and supplements of vitamin B complex and magnesium supplements. All of these are essential ingredients to cope with stress.
Many herbs will give relief to menopausal symptoms. The most easily available is sage. Sage tea can give almost instant relief to hot flushes. Other herbs that help are Black cohosh, Vitex agnus castus, Dong quoi, Liquorice and Ginseng.
We live in an increasingly sedentary society. The menopause is a time of life when women are less likely to be literally running round after the family and at work. We all need to walk at least 20 minutes a day, as well as do other exercise. Exercise will help almost all symptoms of the menopause especially osteoporosis.