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09 Nov 2015 By

Alternative or Complementary Therapies for Menopause

Acupuncture

3b24ca035952012b809dfa4b0b54d676Many women find relief from their menopausal symptoms through acupuncture, a system of complementary medicine in which fine needles are inserted into the skin at specific pressure points along the body meridians, or energy lines.

Acupuncture may regulate the autonomic nervous system so that the body can be balanced, but the biggest advantage of this traditional Chinese medicine is that its approach is different to conventional medicine. It is seen as a more energetic form of medicine. Based on Chinese medicine theory, women whose constitution leads more towards yin deficiency tend to have symptoms such as hot flushes, irritability, and insomnia. Women whose constitution leans to yang deficiency tend to suffer from bloated stomach, diarrhea, and fatigue.

Aromatherapy

By using aromatherapy in conjunction with BHRT, you can achieve a synergistic effect. Essential oils are effective in helping to regulate hormones and balance mood swings, with the most useful being:

  • Clary sage,
  • Geranium,
  • Rosemary,
  • Rose, and
  • Neroli.

Try a steam inhalation using 3-7 drops of your chosen essential oil in very hot (but not boiling) water.

Food

Plant oestrogens have been promoted as aids in managing symptoms of menopause and occur naturally in certain foods. The two main types of plant oestrogens are isoflavones and lignans. Isoflavones are found in soybeans, chickpeas, and other legumes, while lignans are found in flaxseed, whole grains, and some fruits and veggies.

Massage

Massage that pays special attention to the abdomen and lower back can alleviate some of the stress brought on with menopause. Massage therapy effectively reduces the body’s stress hormones, and can reduce cortisol levels to promote a parasympathetic response. It can also improve quality of sleep, build stronger immunity and health, better concentration, and reduce chronic muscle tension.

Mindful breathing

Mindful deep breathing, such as that practiced during yoga and meditation, has aproven calming effect on the mind, and can ease menopausal anxiety and hot flushes. Mindfulness can help you deal with symptoms in a calmer and more compassionate way, and self compassion boosts mental health. Learning simple breathing techniques to focus your awareness and relax the body will help you ‘ride out the storm’ that is menopause.

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort has long been an alternative treatment for menopausal mood swings, improved sleep, relaxation, and reduced depression and anxiety. Derived from a wild flowering plant called Hypericum perforatum, the leaves and flowers are harvested and dried to be brewed in a tea or made into a capsule or liquid form.

As St. John’s Wort can interact with some other medications, always consult with your doctor or menopause specialist before seeking this alternative treatment.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential building block for a healthy body, promoting healthy bone renewal, normal cell growth, and hormone balance. Often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, it’s released in response to sun exposure, as well as consumed as part of nutrition or supplements.

As menopause can affect your ability to absorb vitamin D, it’s important to add some vitamin D to your diet to prevent bone density loss. You can also try walking in the sun between 11am – 1pm daily.

Yoga

There have been multiple studies supporting the notion that yoga can provide physical, mental, and emotional health benefits to those who practice it with proper guidance. The integrated approach of yoga can improve night sweats and hot flushes, and can improve cognitive functions such as memory, mental balance, attention, and concentration. The short-term practice of yoga can also reduce the psychological and physiological risk factors of cardiovascular disease, which can be brought on during menopause.