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Life in Transition
There are a number of physical and psychological changes that women experience around the time of menopause. Find your balance with yoga, dietary changes and herbs during this natural transition.
The onset of menopause can vary between the ages 40 to 58 where 51 is the average age of menopause in North America. You are considered to be in menopause when menstrual bleeding has been completely absent for 12 months.
Once in menopause, the function of your ovaries which primarily produce the hormones estrogen, progesterone and androgen ceases. However, also at this time, many women begin to suffer from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, depression, insomnia and vaginal dryness. The good news is there are many natural and holistic ways to manage menopausal symptoms, many of which have been used for centuries around the world.
Stretch to Reduce Stress
It is never too late to take up yoga practice as part of your exercise routine. However, if you are a newcomer to yoga, you will have to find a class for beginners. Regular yoga practice has been proven to improve joint mobility, promote good sleep quality and calm stress. Chronic stress patterns are associated with a worsening of menopausal symptoms. An important aspect of yoga is the holding of special poses or asanas. The breathing and meditation in yoga can also promote a sense of calm.
Avoid Caffeine & Alcohol
Both caffeine and alcohol stimulate and irritate the nervous system. It would be best to avoid or at least reduce the consumption of these beverages if you are prone to night sweats and hot flashes. Caffeine is a common trigger for hot flashes. Caffeine is not just in coffee. You can find it in tea, chocolate, and in some medications. If you are a consistent coffee drinker, try weaning yourself off of coffee by slowly cutting back. Instead of coffee, increase your water and electrolyte intake and try herbal tea.
Your favorite alcohol beverage can also be wreaking havoc on your menopause symptoms. Alcohol dilates your blood vessels and increases your body temperature, both of which can increase night sweats, which is basically a hot flash at night while you sleep. Unfortunately, alcohol can also reduce the length and quality of your sleep when consumed on a regular basis.
Dong quai is a popular female herb used in Chinese medicine for the treatment of irregular menstruation, hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Known as the female ginseng, it is a hormone balancer and scientists believe it may contain mild estrogen-like qualities and work to stabilize your blood vessels, reducing hot flashes and decreasing vaginal dryness. It also contains the B vitamin, folate. As a stand-alone treatment, folate has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
Rehmannia for Stress
Rehmannia is a perennial herb used in Chinese medicine to support healthy stress response. The adrenal glands are two tiny units of cells which sit on top of each kidney. These tiny glands produce stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine when your body is under stress. In circulation, these hormones increase the pulse rate and blood pressure which can trigger the onset of a hot flash. Rehmannia can help your body in times of prolonged stress by nourishing the adrenal glands and reducing any exaggerated stress responses. It has the potential to reduce the frequency and intensity of menopausal symptoms.
Harmony Menopause and Harmony Menopause Max are multi herbal formulas featuring rehmannia with a supporting cast of herbs including dong quai and chaste tree. Both offer natural relief from hot flashes, sleeplessness, irritability and night sweats without side effects. Relief from common discomforts during this inevitable climacteric stage in life is possible.
Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences. In 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Rose has a clinical focus on women’s health, infertility, weight loss, digestive and immune health. Rose is registered with the College of Naturopaths of Ontario. She is also an active member of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors and the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors. For more information visit www.oroseND.com.