Dr. Maryam Mahanian, DTCM, RAc

Ways to Treat Menopause Symptoms and Perimenopausal Symptoms

Menopause is defined as the permanent stoppage of menstruation, marking the end of a woman’s ability to conceive. It’s a normal process of ageing which occurs when the ovaries stop making  estrogen. This usually happens between the ages of 45 to 60, but it can happen earlier. The average age of menopause is fifty-one. Menopause can also occur when the ovaries are surgically removed or stop functioning for any other reason.

Once a woman has not menstruated for a full year, menopause is considered complete (she is post-menopausal). Diagnostic tests can confirm menopause. The FSH test measures the body’s level of follicle stimulating hormone. As estrogen levels decline, the pituitary gland secretes more and more FSH; therefore, a high level may indicate menopause. Blood and urine tests can also determine if a woman is still ovulating. While it is a normal process of aging, it can sometimes come with a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms and have an impact on a woman’s quality of life. It is also important to note that, along with the decline in estrogen, there is also a decline in progesterone. Progesterone is the hormone secreted by the corpus luteum after ovulation. But in menopause there is no more ovulation, which means no more progesterone. 

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) can offer support and balance in this transitional part of life. Whether used alone, or in conjunction with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), it can provide women with a safe, natural and personalized approach at this time. 

Understanding Menopause from the lens of Chinese medicine

In TCM, menopause is seen as a natural phase of life characterized by the gradual decline of Yin and Yang energies within the body. Yin represents the cooling, nourishing, and feminine aspects, while Yang represents the warming, active, and masculine aspects. As a woman approaches menopause, the basic pathology is kidney essence deficiency; however, within this basic pathology there can be many variations to the pattern. The deficiency of the kidneys can be combined with patterns such as dampness, Qi (energy) stagnation, blood stasis, and heat for example. These patterns can lead to various physical and emotional changes. The aim of a Chinese medicine practitioner is to be able to identify the patterns being shown in an individual and to create a personalized treatment plan accordingly. 

Common Symptoms of Menopause

As most women approach menopause, their menstrual periods become irregular – they happen closer together and/or farther apart. Other common symptoms include:

  • Achy joints

  • Hot flashes

  • Night sweats

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Loss of sexual desire 

  • Rapid mood changes

  • Tension & anxiety

  • Depression

  • Extreme sweating

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness 

  • Lack of concentration

  • Difficulties with memory

  • Frequent urination

  • Bone loss

  • Insomnia

*Keep in mind that a woman may have one, some, or none of these symptoms.

TCM used with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

If you choose to go on hormone replacement therapy, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are a great complement.

While HRT works by supplementing declining hormone levels, Chinese medicine treatment works by nourishing the kidney essence and addressing any underlying causes that contribute to menopausal symptoms.

For example, in TCM, the kidneys are in charge of reproduction and development. As we age, our kidney essence declines. One of the most important ways of providing balance at the menopausal time is to nourish the declining kidney system.

So while HRT is effective in the short term relief of menopausal symptoms and protecting the body from osteoporosis and heart disease, Chinese medicine works by looking at the long term relief of balancing the body’s energy systems, including disruptions in yin and yang, Qi and blood flow, and overall well being. 

TCM can treat the potential side effects of  HRT and also enhance its effectiveness while promoting overall wellness.

It offers a personalized approach and works very well alongside HRT. 

How Chinese Medicine Offers Ways to Treats Menopause Symptoms?

Chinese Medicine for menopause involves a number of practices including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and nutritional advice (food cures). It especially emphasizes lifestyle changes. Chinese Medicine has been used as the sole source of medicine in China for thousands of years and is still being used today throughout the world.

Gynecology is an area in which Chinese Medicine shines. It can be used instead of or in conjunction with western medicine to treat successful treat menopause symptoms. Evidence that acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used for women’s health can be found in early medical literature dating back to 3 A.D.

Chinese Medicine doesn’t recognize menopause as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims in treating the particular symptoms that are unique to each individual. For example, if ten women are treated with Chinese Medicine for hot flashes and night sweats, each of these ten women will likely receive a unique, customized treatment with different acupuncture points, different herbs, and different lifestyle & diet recommendations. This gives a very effective result.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbs have been used for centuries for menopausal symptoms and to protect the bones. The formulas have many subtle but yet powerfully strengthening effects upon the whole endocrine system.

The herbs act by stimulating the production of hormones, altering the condition of hormone receptors or changing the rate of catabolism of hormones rather than providing the hormones or hormone analogs that function the same as hormones. The herbs have little or no hormonal effects but the effect of the whole formula will substantially increase hormone levels. They work by improving the function of aging organs and glands.

The Chinese herbal formulas that are prescribed are based on the individual pattern of disharmony which is identified during the initial consultation. 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body that have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to balance the body and eliminate menopausal symptoms. Acupuncture regulates hormones, promotes relaxation, and improves circulation. 

Acupuncture is usually recommended once per week in combination with herbal medicine and dietary and lifestyle recommendations.

Diet Therapy

Diet is extremely important in having a healthy menopause. One thing that makes TCM stand out when it comes to diet therapy is that it is individualized and different foods are prescribed according to the constitution of the person. But generally speaking, foods that increase fluids (yin) of the body and combat the drying symptoms of menopause are highly recommended. These are foods such as leafy greens, seaweed, tofu, soy products, and fruits and vegetables with a high water content. 

It is important to avoid cigarettes, avoid losing too much body fat, and reduce alcohol intake, caffeine, red meat, soft drinks and refined sugars.

Some supplements that may be incorporated into your daily regimen are calcium & magnesium, evening primrose oil, flax seed oil or fish oils, and a good women’s multi-vitamin.

Lifestyle

Adequate rest, regular sleep patterns, stress reduction, moving your body daily, and meditation are some of the lifestyle practices that are highly recommended in TCM. 

Conclusion

Chinese Medicine is an effective method to treat menopause symptoms and has a long history of successful treatment for gynecological disorders. 

Chinese Medicine extends back over 200 generations and has over 30,000 volumes of medical literature. It can be used alone or in conjunction with HRT.

Book an appointment with me today and let me help you treat your menopausal symptoms in a highly effective, non-invasive and safe manner.

What You Can Do Right Away

Health Shop

You have a number of options to get on top of your health from scheduling a video or telephone consult with me, seeing me in person, or even taking one of my online self-treatment courses. 

However, you can also start right away by taking vitamins or herbal supplements. Here are my top recommendations:

  1. Two Immortals Formula (Jia Jian Er Xian Tang)

  2. Free & Easy Wanderer Plus Formula (Jia Wei Xiao Yao San)

  3. Yin Transition Formula (Geng Nian An Wan)

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