WOMEN’S HEALTH: Chinese Medicine for Menopause
By – David Treviño, L.Ac
Most women who live in industrialized societies experience menopause between the ages of 48 and 55. This natural transition from a fertile to a non-fertile stage in women is designated when menstruation permanently ceases. During this phase, many women experience uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, insomnia, headaches, lethargy, weight gain, water retention, vaginal dryness, and menstrual irregularities. For the last several decades western medicine has been prescribing hormone replacement therapy to help women deal with the uncomfortable menopausal symptoms. Recent research, however, has found that these medications increase the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as cancer. Fortunately, Chinese medicine has much to offer women who are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause. Acupuncture and herbal remedies and specific nutritional adjustments have been used for thousands of years in China to help women transition through these symptoms without the use of medications.
According to Chinese medicine, the physiological transition in a woman’s life from a reproductive to a non-reproductive age occurs when kidney’s yin and yang energies begin to decline. For example, when the kidney yin energies are deficient the body is unable to cool or moisten. This can contribute to insomnia, palpitations, night sweating, constipation, tinnitus, and dryness. When kidney yang deficiency is also present, women often experience depression, hot flashes, night sweats early in the morning, cold hands and feet, fatigue, ankle swelling, and backache. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines are great in helping the body balance the specific energy deficiencies and reduce menopausal symptoms safely and naturally. Most women experience a reduction of menopausal symptoms only after a few acupuncture treatments but are best treated by combining acupuncture with Chinese herbal medicine. Most of the Chinese herbal formulas prescribed today have been used for thousands of years to strengthen Qi, blood, yang, or yin and can be used on a regular basis without adverse side effects.
Other lifestyle factors such as excessive stress, lack of exercise and consuming spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine can aggravate menopausal symptoms. If you are experiencing menopausal symptoms try eating whole foods and increase foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, exercise regularly, and practice activities that decrease stress and promote relaxation such as tai chi, yoga and meditation. If you continue to experience menopausal difficulties after adjusting your lifestyle, speak to one of your licensed acupuncturists. Chinese Medicine can assist you in creating a harmonious shift and move through this life transition