Nourish Your Soul – Natural Support for Menopause
In Chinese Medicine, during a woman’s reproductive years, there is a channel that travels from the heart to the uterus to nourish any offspring. When a woman goes into menopause this channel shifts to go from the heart to nourish the soul. In this way a woman becomes wiser and learns to live in a deeper, more contemplative life. Symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, sleeplessness and heart palpitations occur as the energy in this channel moves to its new location.
Thinking about this shift often eases some of the aggravation that I experience when having a hot flash with my mask on and my glasses fog up and I become uncomfortably hot and sweaty.
But I also feel like things have changed in a positive way for me. I am less likely to ignore something that bothers me. I have experience and perspective about things in life that I did not have when I was younger. I am more likely to voice these opinions regardless of what others may think. I feel more sure of who I am.
Menopause can cause many symptoms that are uncomfortable and frustrating. Couple that with the loss of fertility and from a cultural viewpoint -a loss of beauty. It is not for sissies.
Hormones can ease the symptoms of menopause, but they carry risks, especially the synthetic ones. Bio-identical hormones which are structurally identical to our own hormones have less risks and can be tailored in doses specific to an individual, but they are expensive, and insurance won’t usually pay for them.
Non-hormonal support to ease some of the transition into menopause can be helpful. Increasing soy in the diet (organic, non-GMO) if you are not sensitive to it, black cohosh, wild yam, maca root all can help. These plants contain hormone like substances called phytoestrogens which will boost hormone levels. There are several products on the market with these ingredients geared to ease hot flashes.
Sleep is critical. Many women struggle with night sweats, heart palpitations and sleeplessness. Melatonin, motherwort (an herb in the mint family), progesterone cream can help.
The other big symptom is vaginal dryness. There are hormone creams that can be prescribed if it is bad, but coconut oil, vitamin E capsule broken open or inserted vaginally or a superior quality lubricant can ease some of the discomfort.
Menopause is not pathological. It is a natural part of life. Treat it as a sacred transition. Consider the ways that you can work to nourish your soul. Find fellow women to share this phase of your life with. Honor your connection to yourself.
By Dr. Jennifer Means, ND, LAc