Chinese Medicine for Menopause

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 Menopause is a natural phase in a woman’s life that marks the end of her reproductive years. While it is a normal process, the accompanying symptoms can be challenging and disrupt daily life. With its holistic approach, Chinese medicine offers a range of remedies and practices to alleviate menopausal symptoms naturally. Here, we explore Chinese medicine, common symptoms experienced during menopause, and various Chinese medicine treatments and therapies that can help women find balance and wellness during this transitional period.

Understanding Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine is a comprehensive healing system practiced for thousands of years. It is established on the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”), the vital life force that flows through the body’s meridians or energy pathways. According to Chinese medicine, menopause occurs due to imbalances in Yin and Yang energies and disruptions in the flow of Qi. Yin represents the cool, nourishing, and feminine aspects, while Yang represents warmth, movement, and masculine qualities. During menopause, Yin declines, and the balance between Yin and Yang is disrupted, leading to various symptoms.

Common Symptoms of Menopause

Menopause brings about a spectrum of physical and emotional symptoms that can vary from woman to woman. Some common symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings, vaginal dryness, reduced libido, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties. Chinese medicine views these symptoms as manifestations of imbalances in the body’s energy system.

Chinese Medicine Approaches to Menopause

  1. Herbal Medicine: Chinese herbal formulas restore balance and alleviate menopausal symptoms. Herbs like Dong Quai, Black Cohosh, and Ginseng are commonly used. These herbs can help regulate hormone levels, strengthen the immune system, enhance circulation, and boost overall well-being.
  2. Acupuncture: Acupuncture applies the insertion of thin needles into particular points on the body to restore the flow of Qi and rebalance Yin and Yang energies. It can effectively reduce hot flashes, insomnia, and emotional symptoms associated with menopause. Regular acupuncture sessions can also help improve sleep quality and overall energy levels.
  3. Dietary Therapy: Chinese medicine emphasizes the importance of a balanced diet during menopause. Foods high in phytoestrogens, such as soy products, lentils, and flaxseeds, can help alleviate symptoms by providing natural plant-based estrogen-like compounds. Other recommendations include reducing spicy and greasy foods, increasing the intake of cooling foods like cucumber and watermelon, and incorporating nourishing herbs and spices like ginger and turmeric.
  4. Qigong and Tai Chi: These ancient Chinese exercises combine gentle movements, deep breathing, and meditation. Daily practice of Qigong and Tai Chi can enhance energy flow, reduce stress, improve sleep, and promote mental and physical well-being during menopause.
  5. Lifestyle Recommendations: Chinese medicine emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle during menopause. This includes regular exercise, managing stress through meditation and mindfulness, and ensuring sufficient rest and sleep.

6. Mind-Body Practices: In addition to physical interventions, Chinese medicine emphasizes the mind-body connection in managing menopause. Practices such as Qigong and Tai Chi combine gentle movements, breath control, and meditation to promote the smooth flow of Qi, calm the mind, and balance emotions. These practices can help women find inner tranquility, reduce anxiety, and enhance their well-being.

7. Consulting a Qualified Practitioner: While Chinese medicine offers valuable tools for managing menopause, it is essential to consult a qualified practitioner to receive personalized care. A trained Chinese medicine practitioner will thoroughly assess an individual’s health, identify imbalances, and design a treatment plan tailored to their specific needs. They will consider aspects such as the severity of symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle to provide the most appropriate herbal formulas, acupuncture protocols, and lifestyle recommendations.

Chinese medicine provides a holistic and natural approach to managing menopausal symptoms. By addressing the underlying imbalances in the body’s energy system, Chinese medicine treatments such as herbal medicine, acupuncture, dietary therapy, and mind-body practices like Qigong and Tai Chi offer women effective ways to find balance and wellness during this transformative phase of life. Consulting with a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner to tailor treatments to individual needs and experiences is essential. With the guidance of Chinese medicine, women can navigate menopause with greater ease and embrace this new chapter of life with vitality and well-being.

Here we discuss this with Andrea Marsh, a TCM expert, to get her thoughts on this topic.

How Chinese medicine helps

NourishDoc: How Chinese medicine umbrella can help these women.

TCM Expert Andrea: I used it for myself when I got to a point and I was experiencing many symptoms that I hadn’t put together and, you know, in any way identified as menopause because I’d never had a hot flash. I had night sweats, crying every day, anxiety, very low energy, getting brain fog, and many symptoms now under the umbrella of perimenopause. But I had regular, quite healthy periods. But when I did find this out, I went straight out and bought a herbal supplement because I was menopausal, and it gave me hot flashes, which doesn’t make sense. 

So I went to my Chinese medicine books, Chinese medicine and Japanese medicine, which is shiatsu. They don’t have menopause. So what you have to look at is what all the symptoms are. And this is how Chinese medicine works. It’s like; they say there are 30 to 100 symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. And we have a very simple model of yin and yang. And you break that down. So I use that kind of medicinal model. And I put them into two piles, hot symptoms and cold symptoms, And, you know, I tested my theory on myself and started testing it on my clients because the more people I spoke to, we’re going well; I have a cold menopause too. And just women all around me we’re having cold menopause. And this meant that they didn’t have hot flushes. 

Heat symptoms are excessive and easier to resolve in many ways because you can remove access. But cold symptoms come out of a depletion; something is missing. And this was my light bulb moment. Because we’re kind of taught in energetic medicine that you’ve always got everything within yourself to heal yourself. And I was like, well then, why can’t I resolve my symptoms until I got with depletion? And something is massively missing in women as they’re hitting perimenopause they get into midlife. And that was the start of how to help women. And when you work to top up the depletion and remove that, then all the latest symptoms come out of that depletion. So, for example, hot flushes come from a lack of nutrition. Once you’ve kind of cemented the building blocks of what menopause is, then you can not have menopausal symptoms.

Chinese Medicine Tools

NourishDoc: What tools did you use

TCM Expert Andrea: I have a symptoms pyramid, and hot flashes sit at the very top because they’re built on so many other health imbalances or symptoms in the body that are beneath them. If you come right down to the bottom of the pyramid, it could be a woman who has been stressed for a long time and had symptoms of anxiety, fatigue, and broken sleep. So, hot flushes come out of this depletion of deficiencies. It doesn’t matter if a woman’s got hot flashes today or never had them. But there’s the potential for them in the future. 

It’s what are the building blocks the health, and this is where Chinese medicine has helped me group the symptoms; if you’ve got this set of symptoms, now you potentially will get hot flashes in the future. If you’ve got hot flashes now, have you had these symptoms? Or are you experiencing these symptoms? And the likelihood is yes. So my major go-to, first of all, is vitamins and minerals. So I’m not a Chinese herbalist, but I understand Chinese herbal medicine. So there are times when you call on herbals. 

Looking at exercise is not about too much exercise. It’s about finding the right type of exercise for you. Whereas if we can go more with the Eastern exercise models, it’s about calming the mind. It’s about re-energizing the body. So I call on anything in my toolkit; emotional support might come from back flower remedies. Some imbalances might be helped with essential oils if they’re craving certain foods or herbal teas that can tell me what their energetics are doing. And then we need to look to rebalance them. 

NourishDoc: Some Chinese medicine tools that women can start with?

TCM Expert Andrea: We need to combat cortisol and lack of nutrition. So it’s betterment and minerals, and magnesium. So really, it’s a multivitamin, and magnesium is the starting point. But as you’re putting nutrition in, taking out things that trigger stress is also beneficial. So you mentioned Chi Gong, it is a very easy exercise to do standing on the spot, and you can do it for three minutes. And it calms down, overwhelms, and puts the body back into rest and digestion. So let’s add Chi Gong in there. 

Another thing would be self-care; if you do self-care right, you lower your stress levels and create more time for yourself. So it’s about something other than making time for self-care. It’s about using self-care to create more space and time for you and to lower your stress levels. So I think if you are topping up if you’ve got symptoms, you are lacking nutrition. It’s as simple as that. So it’s about nutrition. And then, we are Moving the stressors, and I recommend Qi Gong and looking into self-care.

Personalized treatments in Chinese Medicine

NourishDoc: Are there any common Chinese medicine, or is it on personalized symptoms?

TCM Expert Andrea: If you have night sweats and it’s interrupting your sleep, a blend of herbs detoxifies the liver. And they don’t have alien names. Because, you know, dandelion, artichoke, liver, licorice, but you can get herbal blends. So I’d say with night sweats and removing sugars from your evening meal, you’d want to get a blend of herbs. A fantastic one if you feel like you’ve got anxiety every day is ashwagandha; anxiety is triggered very easily, like our adrenals become a leaky tap. And so anxiety and ashwagandha start healing the leaky tap and bring down people’s anxiety levels. So there are lots of different herbs. And yes, if you were out of balance and needed that energetic effect on certain organs, you would be getting into bespoke herbal blends. But I say we start with vitamins and minerals.

Bach flowers and essential oils

NourishDoc: Difference between bach flowers and essential oils

TCM Expert Andrea: Bach flowers are energetic quality plants. And Edward Beck went through 1000s of plants that came up with 38. So people watching this might have heard of Rescue Remedy, a blend of five. They’re harmless. If you take them by accident, it’s not an issue. They come, they’ll just pass through, but if you need them, they just if you’re feeling, women can feel on edge and a little bit jittery and fractious. So the bach flowers help you instantly return to a more calm, grounded position while working on your physical health to make you more robust again. 

Essential oils are a vast array of oils. And actually, I work with inhalation predominantly based on pharmacognosy, which is sniffing plants as your medicines got. And I created my blossom cream based on this. So it’s a blend of six essential oils to relieve hot flashes and night sweats and calm anxiety. And this blend of oils is attractive to women who have the symptoms. And I learned all this after going on a dog course. Because if dogs were sniffing plants as their medicines, I thought can women too. So I spent a year and a half developing that cream, which works. So essential oils are amazing.


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