We think ageing gracefully is the new black! With age comes wisdom, experience, new perspectives...and menopause. But fear not - we have some tips for making this life transition easier thanks to TCM.
Menopause - it’s an unavoidable stage of life for us ladies. But it doesn’t have to be the negative experience you may have heard about. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used for centuries as a method to treat common ailments and health concerns naturally and effectively, including menopause.
For most women, the menopausal process begins with perimenopause. It typically occurs in the mid- to late forties when estrogen begins to decrease and menstrual cycles become irregular. While you may not experience menopausal symptoms during this time, it does indicate the beginning of the transition period. Your body will gradually stop producing eggs and reproductive hormones. Menopause, which follows, occurs after the menstrual cycle has been absent for at least one year. Along with infrequent or absent periods, other signs of menopause can include insomnia, hot flashes, sweating or chills, fatigue, anxiety, depression and decreased libido. Menopause is a gradual process can last anywhere from two to five years.
In TCM, menopause commonly represents an imbalance in the body, specifically in the kidneys. Symptoms of perimenopause or menopause - hot flashes, missing or irregular menstruation, etc. - are all signs that kidney energy - or “yin” - is decreasing.
Fortunately, this imbalance can be remedied with TCM approaches - herbal medicine, acupuncture, food therapy and simple lifestyle changes. In fact, a study by Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine found that TCM practices such as acupuncture and herbal medicine were as effective as potentially risky hormone replacement therapy in the treatment of menopause-related symptoms.
Chinese herbs have been shown to help to reduce some of the uncomfortable signs of menopause by restoring balance and tonifying kidney energy. However, since symptoms may vary, there isn't a one-size-fits-all program; It’s best to consult with your TCM practitioner for a treatment plan that fits your needs.
Acupuncture is used as a method to regulate the body’s “Qi” (energy). It’s believed when energy gets stuck or blocked, your body won’t perform as it should, which can enhance symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, anxiety and insomnia. Acupuncture addresses blockages by moving energy within the body, allowing it to flow properly.
Nutrition is an important aspect of managing menopausal symptoms as well. Kidney-strengthening foods will often be recommended, such as yams, fennel, apples, figs, walnuts and lean meats, to name a few. Additionally, incorporating a variety of flavours - salty, bitter, sweet, sour and pungent - at every meal may help to rebalance energy within the kidneys.
Lifestyle changes are also an important factor in reducing the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Excessive emotional and physical stress, extreme exercise routines or lack of exercise altogether, restrictive diets and overindulgence in alcohol or unhealthy foods should be avoided. For the smoothest transition through menopause, it’s imperative to get enough sleep, maintain a balanced diet, including kidney-strengthening foods mentioned above and stick to lower intensity workouts like yoga, walking and swimming.