Creative Eldering: Menopause
Despite the bombardment of media and societal messages, menopause is a natural passage of life for women and not a guaranteed time of discomfort or dis-ease. While sometimes imbalances can occur before, during and after menopause, there are many natural modifications that can help make menopause a smooth transition.
Generally, women begin to experience a natural decrease of hormone production between the ages of forty and fifty. This progressive changeover and the slowing of estrogen and progesterone production will eventually lead to the ceasing of menstruation. While both of these hormones lessen, there is some evidence that progesterone production begins to slow prior to estrogen. This is a slow change that can actually take several years and includes a premenopausal stage. “The progesterone slowdown theory hints that before a woman begins to notice any other symptoms, numerous “brown spots” or “age spots” appear, and increased skin dryness, wrinkling, and other symptoms develop” (Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition, 202).
As you have repeatedly seen in nearly all of my Creative Eldering articles, your body is completely connected to each part of itself. When change occurs in one area of your body, simultaneous changes and effects are seen throughout other areas of the body. Because of the connection between your hormonal system and glandular system, menopausal symptoms related to imbalances in your thyroid and hypothalamus are often the first symptoms many women notice. These symptoms may include hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, depression, irritability and insomnia. One natural means of minimizing the symptoms of menopause is to address the imbalances in your thyroid and hypothalamus. You can find information about glandular supplements on pages 209-210 in Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition. You may find acupuncture and Chiropractic treatment to be supportive in this time of transition.
In addition to glandular supplements, a menopause supporting diet can also assist you in minimizing your negative symptoms of menopause. Please read chapter 5 in Your Aging Body Can Talk for a concise review of nutrition and dietary guidance. Calcium and magnesium are two specific minerals requirements that increase for women experiencing menopause. Essential fatty acids are also essential during menopause. They are necessary to balancing hormone function and help “the digestive process, enhance skin texture and moisture, and assist in joint lubrication” (Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition, 209). Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is another nutrient that can assist you during menopause. Foods than can help your body produce more HCL include limes, lemons, pineapple, apple cider vinegar and papaya.
“Along with glandulars, the multi-vitamins, minerals (including potassium) and antioxidants such as selenium all work to strengthen the hormones” (Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition, 210). Potassium, found in avocados, spinach, wild-caught salmon, acorn squash and other foods, can help to minimize the effects that sodium has on blood pressure for everyone, including menopausal women. Selenium is an antioxidant that can help protect your body’s cells from damage. You can find a high-quality selenium supplement with the help of your natural healthcare provider or you may choose to increase your selenium levels through natural food sources including Brazil nuts, walnuts, wild-caught fish, whole grains and organic, pasture raised beef and poultry. Germanium is a mineral with antioxidant properties that can boost your immune system and increase your tissue strength. Your natural health care practitioner can assist you in finding a high-quality germanium supplement.
Herbal remedies, including tinctures and teas, have also proven very helpful for menopausal women. Licorice root tea and tincture has been shown to help the body naturally produce estrogen. Licorice root also has anti-inflammatory, stress reducing and detoxifying properties. Squaw vine, a Native American herb, can help your body naturally increase its progesterone production. Helonias root, false unicorn root, black cohosh and blue cohosh are other beneficial herbs that can help to naturally balance your uterus.
Menopause is a natural event that each woman will experience during the second half of her life. While changes do occur during this time, menopause doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Many natural and healthy measures can be taken to make menopause a smooth transition. Before making the decision to use synthetic hormones or other extreme medical measures to treat menopausal symptoms, I strongly encourage you to take less invasive measures, such as implementing a menopause friendly diet and including herbal supplements, vitamins and minerals.