TREAT MENOPAUSE NATURALLY
With Traditional Chinese Medicine
How unfair is it that after decades of dealing with periods, now we have a whole new set of uncomfortable symptoms to deal with? Nearly 90% of women are likely to experience hot flashes, poor sleep, or depression during menopause. While these symptoms can stop on their own without treatment, some people can experience them for more than a decade.
If you’re looking for a more natural way to ease your symptoms of menopause, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) might be the right option for you as it assesses conditions from the root issue and can recommend physical treatments, herbal remedies, diet, and lifestyle changes specifically to fit your needs.
TCM Treatments for Menopause Symptoms
While there’s no one set treatment plan, there are several herbal remedies that might be suggested for menopause symptoms. These can include bai shao, huang qin, dang gui, chai hu, yin yang huo, and zhi mu. Acupuncture has also been shown to help reduce symptoms like hot flashes, intensity and frequency of sweating, sleep disturbances, emotional and physical disruptions, and skin and hair problems.
One study concluded that over the course of two months, a combined treatment of herbal remedies and acupuncture proved to be equally effective as a medical hormone therapy when easing menopause symptoms. Treatments based around the belly button have sometimes been prescribed. These could include moxibustion in the navel, or specific topical salves and pastes designed to treat symptoms like insomnia, sweating, and hot flashes.
Best Diets for Menopause Symptoms
Based on the diagnoses of menopause in TCM, commonly prescribed diets are built around providing nourishment to the Kidney and Liver, nourishing yin, and clearing excess heat (yang). Generally speaking, you should always aim to eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and limit excess intake of fats, oils, alcohol, and caffeine.
To nourish the Kidney you should try to add black soybeans, wolfberries (aka goji berries), milk, cherries, cashews, pig’s kidney, and sesame seeds to your diet. For the Liver, TCM practitioners might suggest mulberry fruits, wolfberries, carrots, spinach, Japanese knotweed root and angelica root. When it comes to nourishing yin foods that help clear heat you have plenty of options. These can include refreshing fruits like pear, wolfberries, mulberry fruits, lotus roots as well as meats like duck, chicken, and rabbit. You can also add in milk and egg yolks. Be sure to reach out to your TCM practitioner and nutritionist for a specific meal plan that is targeted to you specifically.
Lifestyle Adjustments for Menopause
In TCM, it’s believed that each person only has a certain amount of the Kidney jing, or essence. While time naturally drains the essence, the process can be sped up or slowed down depending on our lifestyle choices. The Kidney’s direct connection to menopause suggests that women seeking to ease their symptoms should be particularly aware of maintaining a healthy lifestyle from a young age (years before menopause) and preserving the essence.
Many TCM practitioners suggest living a life of moderation to avoid wasting your Kidney essence. That means you’ll want to be particularly aware of overworking, long hours, long bouts of extreme emotional tension, too much or too little exercise, and following extreme diets. All of these things, especially when repeated throughout your life can drain your essence.
Whether you’re looking to be proactive before your menopausal years or seeking to ease current symptoms, there are several basic life shifts you can make. Make sleep a priority and maintain consistency in your schedule. You’ll also want to balance work, rest, and play and be sure to set aside time to renew the mind and spirit. Knowing yourself and your stress triggers goes a long way to reducing feelings of stress and excess that can trigger your symptoms.
The Cause of Menopause in TCM
In TCM, menopause is directly related to Kidney deficiency or dysfunction. This aligns with the standard medical understanding that menopause marks the end of the fertile years because the Kidney system in TCM is related to temperature, fertility and sterility, and fluid balance regulation. The qi, or energy, that flows through our bodies also flows uniquely through each of our organ systems. The Kidney qi, essence, and blood naturally begin a gradual decline, creating an imbalance of yin and yang in the body. The level and reflection of this imbalance can present itself differently from person-to-person, so the specific physical disruptions will be thoroughly assessed before treatment is prescribed.
Specific symptoms of menopause are linked to specific imbalances. For example, hot flashes are believed to be caused by a Kidney yin deficiency which means that yang, or fire, runs rampant and creates an excess of heat. To fix hot flashes, yin and yang balance needs to be restored so yin should be nourished and heat should be cleared.
Emotional imbalances related to menopause are connected to Liver imbalances (because the Liver is the organ that sparks many strong emotions). The Liver can become depressed of qi which leads to Liver fire and burning of yin.
When it comes to sleep problems, we look back to the Heart. There’s often a lack of qi and blood flow and a disharmony of yin and yang that can reduce flow between the Kidney and the Heart. These are the many different symptoms and signs that a TCM practitioner will look for to help determine the right course of treatment for a patient.