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General Guidelines for a Natural Menopause
Return to Naturopathic Medicine

Menopause can be a confusing and turbulent time in a woman’s life. As if both repeating her puberty and then some, she will suffer through nightsweats, hot flashes, temporary loss of libido, mental confusion, depression, and mood swings. She will feel a new loss of control difficult to reconcile in her adult life. Upon reaching menopause, women are frequently presented with two options: take some form of replacement hormonal therapy or have significant symptoms and risk osteoporosis. For the average woman, estrogen replacement therapy is unnecessary.

There are, however, a few important situations in which hormone replacement therapy is appropriate. A woman who has prematurely reached menopause resulting from surgery needs hormonal support. A woman with a family history of osteoporosis, who has 4 or more of the major indicators, and has not taken any preventive action like exercise or calcium supplementation in her thirties and forties need hormonal replacement. A woman with a family history of heart disease who has not taken any preventive action to increase her heart health prior to menopause and is not willing to during menopause.

Happy Perimenopause Tea 
Natural medicine has been successfully treating both hot flashes and other perimenopausal sysmptoms for hundreds if not thousands of years. In the West, this treatment includes herbs, diet, stress management homeopathy, and the avoidance of hot flash triggers. Our Happy Perimenopause Tea uses these same herbs. These particular herbal combinations have proven effective for hundreds of patients.


Resources:

Awakening at Midlife by Kathleen Brehony

The Menopause Self Help Book by Susan Love

Menopausal Years by Susan Weed Transformation through Menopause by Marian Van Eyk McCain

Menopause, Me and You: The Sound of Women Pausing by Ann Voda

The Pause: Positive Approaches to Menopause. By Lonnie Barbach

The Silent Passage – Menopause by Gail Sheehy

Understanding Menopause by Janine O’Leary Cobb

 

 


If none of those are the case, then symptomatic relief can be achieved through diet change, herbs, homeopathy, exercise and some form of meditation.

Naturopathic medicine treats the menopausal woman on all the levels that she is affected - mentally, emotionally and physically. One of the ways in which we do this is by giving herbs that affect the hormonal balance to make a smoother transition from a menstruating to a non-menstruating woman. We can also balance the mental, emotional and physical levels with a constitutional homeopathic remedy.

Equally, if not more important as the physician in the health of the menopausal woman, is her own participation in the health process. The following are general guidelines that will improve her quality of life and decrease the potential risk hazards of osteoporosis and heart disease.

Diet: When treating menopause dietarily, focus on foods that will be both supportive and protective of your heart and bones. By 40, most women are losing bone mass. Estrogen prevents further bone loss after several months of continued bone loss but does not reverse it. There have been several studies showing that the postmenopausal woman can reverse bone loss with calcium supplementation and exercise. It is important to eat food that is rich in absorbable forms of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium.

Foods to eat in abundance: Salmon, mackerel, halibut, leafy greens (kale, collard greens, chard, spinach – lettuce doesn’t count), fruit, blueberries, black berries, and any form of soybeans.

Foods to avoid: Coffee, alcohol, pop, high protein foods (cut back on meat), high fat foods.

Foods to eat in moderation: All the foods you normally eat that are not included under foods to avoid.

Hot Flashes: While avoiding all hot flashes may be unrealistic, it is possible to decrease them by testing the triggers below and seeing which ones affect you – and then avoiding those.

Hot flash triggers:
Hot drinks Acidic foods (pickles, citrus, tomatoes)
White sugar Caffeine (coffee, black tea, colas)
Stress Alcoholic drinks, including wine and beer
Intense exercise Hydrogenated or saturated fats (meat, margarine)
Spicy food Tobacco or marijuana
Hot weather Anger, especially unexpressed
Hot tubs and saunas  

Physical Activity: Often this is the most difficult part of the treatment plan. Some tend to think of it as optional. Because of the osteoporosis and heart disease risk, it is not optional. It is important to find some sort of physical activity that you can stick with. Take up gardening, learn how to dance, find someone to bike with, walk (with others or your dog), consider yoga or tai chi, and definitely take every opportunity to walk by parking farther away from the grocery store or climbing up the stairs rather than taking the elevator. Stress the social aspect of exercise; otherwise it will be hard to maintain after the first few weeks. Don’t be too ambitious to start. Thirty minutes, 3 times a weeks is fine for most people. Then work this up to 1 hour 3 times a week as that is the exercise amount that the studies showing positive bone gain were maintained.

Spiritual, Mental, Emotional: Even though tens of million of women are menopausal in our society, we try not to talk about it or even admit that it is happening. Somehow, there is a shame in entering this new phase of a woman’s life. Some experience a sense of loss; others take estrogen to delay or deny its affects.

Menopause is a natural phase of a woman’s life. It can be a time of great introspection that can end in a new freedom. A woman’s ability to bear children is over, yet 1/3 of her life is still ahead. Many great and influential women have made significant contributions in their postmenopausal years: Madeline Albright, Shirley Temple Black, Dr. Margaret Mead, and Queen Elizabeth II.

Rethink menopause. Read books, talk to other women going through it. Talk to younger women. Consider getting together with other women and celebrate the change.


 

 

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Dr. Juniper Martin
11825 SW Greenburg Road,
Suite A2
Tigard, OR 97223
503-443-2332