10 Natural Solutions for Managing the Symptoms of Menopause
By Joan Whetzel
Many ladies, once they begin feeling the symptoms of menopause, begin researching the treatments. Some look seriously at remedies like Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) while others wonder whether this is a viable solution the relief of menopausal symptoms.Sure, HRT stops the menopausal symptoms in their tracks, but these synthetic hormones have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease. Besides that, sooner or later you're going to have to wean yourself off HRT which could bring on the inevitable return of menopausal symptoms. Instead of treating menopause like a disease process that needs to be cured, why not consider an alternative approach, a more natural approach to one of life's most natural processes?
Heavy clothing designed to retain body warmth, makes hot flashes and night sweats worse, even in the winter. Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing made of fabrics that breath - like cotton. Dress in layered clothing. Layers, added for warmth during the winter or in air conditioned settings, can be removed at the first hint of a hot flash.
Steer clear of coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods which are triggers for hot flashes. If you absolutely must have coffee, than reduce your intake by drinking fewer cups of Joe or by drinking a half-and-half mix of caffeinated and decaf. I found that I became much more sensitive to caffeine, and had to restrict my coffee consumption to 1 to 2 cups of reduced caffeine, drunk before lunch. Anything after noon kept me awake at night. Restrict or eliminate carbonated beverages. They ingredients include phosphorous which may foster bone loss. Reduce commercially raised beef, pork and chicken as well as sugary desserts, snacks and drinks. They make it harder for your body to make use of available estrogen.
Try organic eggs, wild fish (instead of farm raised), and free-range chicken. If these meat alternatives are too expensive, than lower your intake of the farm raised meats, eating more grains, oats, wheat, brown rice, tofu, legumes, high fiber foods (buckwheat, flaxseed) and nuts, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only will these foods increase your stamina and energy levels, but they will reduce the menopausal symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. Some women find that adding a little acidity to their diet helps. Foods in this category include, citrus fruits, berries, sauerkraut, tomatoes and vinegar.
3. Vitamins and Minerals
Some women get at least a bit of hot flash relief by taking vitamins E and C, Calcium citrate, and Magnesium. Vitamin C helps the body absorb vitamin E which makes capillaries stronger, thereby reducing bruising. Magnesium helps the absorption of calcium, which will slow the onset and progress of osteoporosis.
Increase the intake foods containing soy (edamame, tofu) or through over the counter (OTC) pharmaceuticals such as Soy Isoflavones, which are said to significantly reduce the intensity and frequency of menopausal symptoms like hot flashes. The natural OTC soy supplements are usually found in the natural medicine section of the pharmacy or grocery store. Also check out the natural food stores for natural soy products.
5. Natural Hormones - Progesterone Cream & Estrogen
Natural progesterone cream has been found to reduce hot flashes, and comes in OTC and prescription strengths. The advantage of a cream over oral forms of progesterone that the creams are readily absorbed through the skin and don't need to be metabolized by the digestive system, so much lower doses can be taken Some compounding pharmacists sell natural estrogen compounds that are identical to the estrogen naturally produced by the body, but only by prescription.
Black cohosh, the most common herbal remedy for menopause, has shown mixed results. Some women will receive better results than others. I used a product called Remifemin which helped me considerably. I noticed initial symptom relief within two weeks with a significant decrease in night sweats, mood swings and hot flashes within 2 months. The night sweats almost completely cleared up in both intensity and frequency. While the mood swings and hot flashes didn't disappear completely, they were reduced to a much more tolerable level.
Some women find that Dong Quai, a Chinese herb, works like estrogen to relieve their hot flashes. However, it contains a known carcinogen - psoralen - so it's not advocated by most physicians.
Lactobacillus acidophilus - the intestines' good bacteria - help with estrogen metabolism and consumption. It is also believed to decrease yeast infections.
7. Other Prescription Drugs
Avoiding stress is one way to ease mood swings. However, life events - divorce, adult children moving back home, major illness - may make this impossible. Some doctors prescribe low doses of antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs in such cases. Though, if you're trying to make it through without medication of any kind, you might try other stress relieving methods like, acupuncture, yoga, and exercise.
8. Acupuncture, meditation and yoga
Few studies have been performed on the effects of acupuncture and yoga for the relief of menopausal symptoms. However, many women do find some relief from symptoms with acupuncture and yoga as well as meditation. At the very least, they may well help relieve the stress of life contribute to the mood swings and depression associated with menopause. This may be one of those cases where if you find that it helps you, by all means use it.
Meditation, music therapy, color therapy and aromatherapy all have found their place in society as relaxation techniques. Yoga combined with deep breathing and visualizations have helped with relaxation and relief of tension for many people. Acupuncture and acupressure are said to promote healing and good health as well as relieving anxiety, tension and difficulty sleeping. These techniques certainly have no risks or side effects, so go for it.
9. Exercise, exercise, exercise!
There's plenty of research to show that exercise, like aerobic activities, 3 to 4 times a week not only reduces the frequency and severity of hot flashes, it also lessens the anxiety and depression associated with menopause. Additionally, weight bearing exercises and strength training make both muscles and bones stronger, slowing the onset and severity of osteoporosis.
10. Home Solutions
Free stress relief at home includes color therapy, aromatherapy and music therapy as well as deep breathing and meditation. About 40% of your hot flash and night sweat can be relieved by avoiding hot baths or showers at bedtime. Once these symptoms kick in, try cranking up the ceiling fan, adjusting the A/C setting, taking cold showers or going swimming.
Ceiling fans, A/C adjustments, swimming and cold showers aren't an option at work so try using personal table fan. Most companies won't object to a personal fan at work, even in cubicle settings, as long as it doesn't bother your co-workers.
If you must be out and about, especially on hot summer days, make sure to make frequent stops in business, libraries, and other places that have A/C. Also drink plenty of cold liquids, which will keep your internal thermostat from triggering hot flashes.
These remedies may not work for everyone because all women are not alike. Each women experiences the change differently, so the severity and frequency of the symptoms will vary from woman to woman. Discuss these treatments with other women who have tried them to find out what kind of relief they received. Also discuss them with your doctor to make sure these remedies won't cause interactions or other problems with treatments you may be taking for other conditions.
Also check out homeopathy websites as well as sites for doctors that practice natural medicine for further information and suggestions. Try Dr. Susan Lark's articles at http://www.quantumeducation.com/lark.html or go to at http://www.drlark.com/ to sign up for her newsletter and investigate various natural products. Also check out Dr. Andrew Weil's site http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00700/menopause-symptoms to read up on his recommendations for menopausal symptom relief.
You may have to try a number of methods before you hit upon the combination that works best for you. You may find that you only need one remedy or may have to use several. Mix and match until you reach a level of relief you can live with for a while. And remember, the change of life doesn't last forever.