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Natural Menopause Treatment

Naturopathic approach to treating menopause

Going through menopause can be a very difficult and challenging period for many women. It is our goal to make this transition as smooth and comfortable as possible by using natural means. Unlike modern Western medicine we treat the individual holistically. We believe there are many facets that need to be attended to in treating menopause effectively and of cause safely. After treating countless women for menopause we have found that treating and boosting the adrenal gland function, optimising liver function, reducing stress, implementing an exercise regime and preparing a healthy eating plan all work wonders for those women struggling through menopause.

Adrenal Glands… The secret to cruising through menopause!

During menopause, oestrogen levels drop due to the ovaries not producing this hormone any longer. This decrease in oestrogen levels can result in symptoms such as night sweats, hot flushes, dryness, anxiety etc….. Thankfully our adrenal glands still have the capacity to secrete hormones during this challenging stage. The adrenal glands sit on top of our kidneys and are part of the endocrine system. Their main function is to help us deal with stress. The adrenal glands have the ability to secrete several important hormones such as the sex hormones oestrogens, testosterone and Progesterone, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) which is a precursor to oestrogen and testosterone, Cortisol (our stress and energy hormone) adrenalin and noradrenalin. During menopause the adrenal glands take over as the prime producers of oestrogen and progesterone and help our body adapt. Progesterone is known to be our calming hormone, exactly what we need when going through menopause. In many case whether it be due to stress or nutrient deficiencies our adrenal glands are not functioning at their optimal level during menopause. Women who have had chronic stress and used stimulants such as coffee and nicotine throughout their life often have adrenals that have been overworked and in poor shape. So by boosting our adrenal glands with medicinal herbs and nutrients we have a safe and effective way of lifting hormone levels naturally and therefore treating menopause successfully in countless cases.

Reducing stress and supplementing with Vitamins C, B, and minerals, magnesium, and zinc are also important as they are needed as cofactors to ensure proper adrenal function can take place. Herbal medicines are very effective at lifting adrenal function and therefore reducing menopausal symptoms in many women. A qualified naturopath can formulate an herbal mix specific to the individual’s requirements.

Women with weak adrenal function will commonly have underactive thyroid function. This is why many women struggle with weight issues through the menopausal years. Unlike allopathic practitioners naturopaths believe that the adrenals are linked to the thyroid glands. In many past cases where I have treated weak adrenal glands the patients thyroid function also improves. Liver function is also important because it is needed to process and eliminate hormones. If we get a build up of ‘bad oestrogens’ breast cancer is more likely to occur.

Hot Flushes

Hot flushes during menopause can be exacerbated by drinking alcohol, high blood pressure, having an unhealthy weight range, fatty liver and stress. All these possible causes can be readily adressed by partaking in a holistc treatment program.

How to boost hormones naturally and safely

The way in which we will enhance hormone levels naturally is by using medicinal herbs to boost adrenal function and eating foods high in phyto-oestrogens. Phyto-estrogens found in plants are much weaker than hormones found in human body. They help balance the levels of hormones whether they are high or low and are therefore very safe. Foods that contain phyto-oestrogens include;

  • Red clover
  • Sage
  • Fennel
  • Tempeh
  • Linseeds (flaxseed)
  • Sesame seeds (tahini)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Aniseed
  • Cucumber
  • Alfalfa
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Soy beans
  • Mung beans
  • Peanuts
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Berries
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Whole grains especially Rye, Barley and Oats
  • Millet
  • Seaweed

The highest level of phyto oestrogens are found in sprouted seeds such as sesame seeds, flaxseeds, soy, sunflower seeds etc…. All kinds of legumes, the majority of whole grains, and some vegetables such as carrots, brassica family which includes cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts are all good sources. I recommend staying away fro soy beans and soy products unless they have been fermented such as Tempeh. Unless soy products have been fermented they tend to require a lot of processing before they are edible. Tofu and soya milk are unfermented soy products, which also have a very high concentration of phytates (acids found in foods) which inhibit the absorption of zinc and other minerals. Zinc is a very important mineral when we are trying to conceive so in my opinion it is important to remove soy from the diet. I have also seen a spike in thyroid dysfunction of late in patients who have consumed unfermented soy products for several years.

Dangers of HRT (Hormone replacement therapy)

It is well documented by recent studies especially ‘The Women’s Health Imitative’ (WHI) that the use of HRT increases the risk of heart disease and breast cancer. The study was actually terminated when it was discovered women using the therapy had a 26% increase of breast cancer, 29%increase of heart disease and a 41% increase of stroke.

How to breeze through menopause easily

Following a healthy lifestyle which includes reducing stress, adequate exercise and supplementing with nutrients and medicinal herbs are all important in reducing symptoms of menopause. Here are some additional tips to ease your menopausal symptoms.

  • Avoid sugar rich foods
  • Restrict coffee and conventional tea especially if there are signs of anxiety. If anxiety is a symptom no chocolate or cola drinks. Filtered water, mineral water and herbal teas are recommended.
  • No alcohol
  • No smoking
  • Increase omega 3 oils
  • Decrease fats and salt in diet
  • Increase green leafy vegetables
  • Increase foods high in phyto-oestrogens
  • Increase fibre content. Foods such as rice bran, oats, wholegrain breads, vegetables, apples and kiwi fruits are all high in fibre.
  • Avoid hot spicy foods

Dangers of Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy (NHRT)

Although a better option than the original HRT there have been no long term studies on the safety of this therapy. NHRT use hormones that are closer in structure to human hormones than what HRT used. It needs to be said that hormones are still hormones identical or not and too much of them can increase the risk of breast cancer and heart disease….Monitoring by a medical practitioner is very important in any form of hormone replacement treatment. Using the lowest dose to achieve withdrawal of symptoms for the shortest amount of time is the goal of most hormone replacement programs now as increasing hormone levels can be fraught with danger even if bio-identical hormones are used. This is why using medicinal herbs has such an advantage over hormone replacement as they are able balance the hormones naturally with minimal safety concerns. In my opinion it is always best to try boosting adrenal function and implementing a healthy lifestyle to treat menopause before embarking on hormone treatment. It also needs to be noted that after hormonal treatment, menopause symptoms often reappear anyway because the cause of the problem (adrenal gland function) has not been dealt with effectively. Just because a hormone is called natural does not mean it is identical to the structure of hormones found in our bodies. Natural sources of hormones can include those derived from horse urine. It is important to note that what makes a hormone effective is its structure not its source. If you are considering NHRT, enquire as to where their hormones are sourced. Bio-identical hormones are usually manufactured in a lab frequently sourced from plants or from a women’s urine.