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A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.

Menopause

Menopause, the period when menstruation stops permanently, may often be a harrowing time for some women and often it is seen as the reason behind the aging process in them. Nevertheless, several of the symptoms that are said to be due to menopause, for instance, appearance of facial lines, middle age spread and even graying hair, are just a part of the normal aging process and they also occur in men.

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When the reproductive years of a woman cease, she is also likely to experience depression and distress. Some women may also have a feeling that the most constructive life has come to an end - particularly men add force to this belief as they find most menopausal women less beautiful. Such belief is also reinforced in women when their bosses take no notice of or underestimate their inputs and when children do not need them as before and like to spend most of their time in the company of their peers.

It is important that we should examine the stressful symptoms related to menopause, such as headaches, mood changes, hot flashes, depression, palpitations, cystitis and vaginal soreness, in the above mentioned context, which occur very often. Some menopausal women may also frequently experience symptoms like irregular menstrual periods or profuse bleeding and occasionally flooding of menstrual discharges, which may occur once in two weeks and continue for an equal period. While some of the changes are attributable to hormonal changes that women undergo during this stage, the symptoms may differ and all of them cannot be attributed only to menopause.

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To comprehend the effect of stress on our hormones, it is essential that we try to understand the fact that the hypothalamus (the region of the brain located between the thalamus and the mid-brain) regulates the hormonal system in women. In fact, the hypothalamus also influences the release of the sex hormones as well as the production of an assortment of different other hormones that direct the endocrine glands all over the body. The endocrine glands are responsible for regulating the circulation, temperature of our body, bone structure, digestion, maintaining equilibrium of water in the body, mood changes, depression, sleep as well as the body weight. During menopause, these aspects are disturbed.

Since the hypothalamus is extremely sensitive to stress, when women are under stress during menopause, the process involving the normal occupation of estrogen production is also disturbed. Hence, we cannot solely hold the changing levels of estrogen for the symptoms related to menopause. In fact, these symptoms may be associated more with the stress that a woman undergoes during this period.

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When we become familiar with this, it may perhaps be less difficult for us to deal with the physical changes that occur during menopause and not have a feeling that these are a result of the aging process of our body. In fact, we ought to discuss these problems and related issues openly and should never feel embarrassed about it. Such open discussions should be held whenever it is necessary.

Taking a healthful diet, having enough rest as well as physical workouts, recreation and enjoyment will be helpful in dealing with the changes and also to maintain the hormonal balance.

Women undergoing menopausal phase should essentially consume foods that are rich in calcium content. It may be noted that calcium assists in putting off osteoporosis as well as other problems, especially those related to the bones. In addition, calcium also aids in avoiding hot flashes. Ingesting calcium in the form of that present in yogurt, different milk products, sesame seeds and products, almonds, seaweeds and in nearly all vegetables having dark green leaves like spinach, broccoli, chard, kale and turnip greens, are easy to digest. In addition, there are several herbs that contribute high calcium levels to our diet, such as amaranth, oat straw, mustard greens, dandelion greens, comfrey, nettle, chickweed, and watercress.

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In this context, seaweeds deserve special mention, as they contain very high levels of calcium. While seaweeds form a main source of foods in several regions across the globe, Americans generally overlook them and do not incorporate them in their diets. While consuming 3.5 ounces of cow's milk provides us with 118 mg calcium, an equal quantity of hizike seaweed having a gentle flavour offers as much as 1,400 mg of calcium. Similarly, 3.5 ounces of wakame provides 1,300 mg of calcium, while the same amount of kelp contains 1,093 mg of calcium.

In addition to consuming calcium-rich foods, it is also advisable that you include calcium supplements in your diet. If you are using pills, ensure that the calcium in them is derived from organic sources and is also biochelated to make assimilation easy. Floradix Iron with Herbs as well as Nature Works Herbal Iron are first-rate liquid calcium/ mineral supplements prepared from herbs and other organic mineral sources.

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Supplements and herbs

Several herbs and supplements are useful in alleviating the stressful symptoms related to menopause. Some of them are listed below.

Acidophilus
Acidophilus is helpful in combating problems like cystitis and vaginitis. It may be noted that a number of women are also vulnerable to develop infections of the bladder.
Black cohosh
This herb works to promote production of natural estrogen and also serves as a tonic for the nerves.
Chaste tree
This herb is especially effective for regularizing the balance as well as functioning of the hormones. A number of studies undertaken by different universities have hinted that chase tree seems to encourage the pituitary gland to maintain the balance between estrogen and progesterone.
False unicorn root
It invigorates the hormones in the ovary and particularly helps in the initial stages of menopause. False unicorn root encloses hormone - simonies.
Ginseng
This herb is helpful in alleviating depression and also promoting estrogen production.
Gotu kola and dong quai
These are two separate herbs that are effective in alleviating depression as well as vaginal dryness.
He shou wu
This Chinese herb is generally employed for treating the symptoms experienced by some women during the initial stages of menopause.
Licorice
It helps to encourage the production of estrogen.
Motherwort
This herb works as a stimulant for the uterus, in addition to helping in reducing anxiety and heart palpitations.
Primrose/ blackcurrant oil
This helps to augment production of estrogen and also works in the form of a diuretic and sedative. In addition, this herb and herbal oil are also prescribed for women having frequent hot flashes.
Sarsaparilla
This herb encloses cortin and the hormone progesterone. It aids in maintaining the glandular balance.
Calcium/ magnesium
These are two essential and vital minerals that help to avoid osteoporosis, which can occur to menopausal women immediately when the levels of estrogen start falling. Using these minerals in combination is also helpful for treating disorders related to the nervous system as well as alleviating anxiety.
Lecithin
This supplements works in the form of an emulsifier and may facilitate the body to absorb vitamin E.
Potassium
The reserves of this mineral in the body are often depleted through perspiration and hot flashes. Potassium is vital for assimilating calcium into the body.
Vitamin C
This particular supplement is suggested for women having hot flashes and, like potassium, is lost easily by means of sweating.
Vitamin E
Supplements high in vitamin E are helpful in a number of ways, such as controlling hot flashes, promoting hormone production and even alleviating vaginal dryness.
Vitamin B complex
This supplement helps in treating water retention, in addition to aiding in the treatment of mental disturbances and emotional problems. In addition, it has been found that when vitamin B5 and B6 are administered in the form of injections, they are effective in alleviating hot flashes as well as diminishing nervous problems.
Selenium
This is a vital trace mineral and essential for our body. Selenium works to sustain the balance of hormones in our body.

Herbs like chaparral, dong quai and damiana are taken together orally and may be helpful in alleviating hot flashes.

Herbs like black cohosh, blessed thistle, false unicorn, licorice, sarsaparilla, Siberian ginseng and squaw vine have been found to be more effective when they are used in combination with one another or other herbs.

Aromatherapy

Commonly used essential oils for menopause:

Homeopathy

Specific homeopathic remedies are helpful in alleviating menopausal symptoms. Homeopathic remedies Lachesis, Sulphur and Sepia are effective and somewhat deep-acting and you may use them just once every day till the symptoms for which they are used goes away. Depending on the individual symptoms, you need to take the suitable remedies once or several times every day.

  • Belladonna
    This homeopathic remedy is appropriate for menopausal women who suffer from pounding headaches, abrupt flashing accompanied by redness of the face, dilated pupils, which are followed by perspirations. They usually also suffer from bleeding from the uterus, nosebleeds, vaginal discharge and heat.
    Such women usually endure symptoms like aggressive anger, rage that begins with a fear. They also suffer from feverish hallucination and have an impulse to run. The condition of women requiring this homeopathic remedy becomes worse during the evening, night, when they are exposed to light, jarring sounds, noise and drafts, besides when they come in contact with breeze. They usually have a craving for lemonade.
  • Cimicifuga
    Menopausal women who are sad, depressed something akin to a dark cloud will find this homeopathic remedy beneficial. Such women usually feel as if they have been caged and suffer from occasional flushing. They experience pain in their breasts and ovary and feel hot on top of their head. Women requiring this remedy have flooding menstrual periods and feel feeble, fainting, suffer from palpitations and sleeplessness. They also experience a sinking sensation in their stomach.
    Cimicifuga is most appropriate for women suffering arthritic and rheumatic pains and tender muscles, in addition to pain in the neck and the lumbar region. The condition of such women deteriorates when they are exposed to cold, dampness and feel even worse when there is an increased blood circulation. They feel better when there is warmth.
  • Lachesis
    This is a suitable homeopathic remedy for menopausal women experiencing heat flushes without any sweating even after any physical as well as mental exertion. They suffer from blood rushing to their head, burning sensations, fainting as well as heat on their head. They also endure nosebleeds and haemorrhoids and their condition deteriorates further when the flow of blood ceases. Such women also experience poor blood clotting and uterine hemorrhage. They also suffer from constriction and are very sensitive when they are touched at their waist or throat and their problems are usually on the left side.
    Such women are generally suspicious, intense and talk a lot. They also suffer from memory loss. The changes in life make them feel sick. The condition of such women deteriorate when they are out in the sun, exposed to heat, after they awake from sleep, and consume coffee and alcohol. They feel better during the blood flow.
  • Sanguinaria
    Women who are in their menopausal stage and experience flushing and reddening of the cheeks benefit from the homeopathic remedy Sanguinaria. Such women usually experience burning sensations in their palms and soles. Menopausal women requiring this homeopathic remedy also suffer from a feeling of emptiness and burning sensations in their stomach. They also suffer from throbbing headaches, usually on the right side. They have a heavy menstrual flow, which has a foul smell and comprises black blood. In addition, they also have corrosive and foul smelling vaginal discharges. They have a craving for spices.
    Such women usually feel feeble and numbed. They are languid and do not like to work. The condition of such women deteriorates during the day (especially when there is sunlight), night, when the weather conditions are damp and when they are exposed to noise and odours. They feel better when they are asleep.
  • Sepia
    This homeopathic remedy is most effective for menopausal women who experience hot flashes even when there is minimum motion and this is accompanied by debility, fainting and profuse perspiration. These hot flashes seem to originate in the pelvis and extend upwards. Such women usually feel heavy in the uterus and suffer from vaginitis as well as profuse bleeding, while their urine has a foul smell. They have a weak stomach and experience notable hair loss. They are depressed most of the time and desire to be left alone. In addition, such women are generally unresponsive to sexual activities and also towards those they love. They are also sarcastic.
    The condition of such women deteriorates when they are exposed to cold and dampness; during the night; have their menstrual periods; and consume milk and fats. They fell much better when they exercise and are in the open air.
  • Sulphur
    The homeopathic remedy Sulphur is beneficial for menopausal women who are experiencing hot flushes accompanied by hotness in the head, feet and hands. They experience such a burning sensation that they need to remove the covers. Such women also have gentle sweating, exhaustion, and fainting. They endure emptiness at the stomach's cavity. These women suffer from heavy menstrual flow, swollen breasts and sleeplessness, in addition to depression. Their scalp and skin are usually dry and cause itching. Women requiring Sulphur are dreamers and intellectuals, but their life is generally in a mess. Such women are selfish and irritable.
    The condition of such women deteriorates when they become hot; during the night and at 11.00 a.m., when there is full moon; when they consume sweets; and when they bathe and are in a standing position.

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