For many healthy women menopause is a smooth and easy transition with very few adverse symptoms. However the transition to menopause, known as peri-menopause can take from two to four years and affects each woman differently.
The most common symptom of menopause is hot flushes and about three quarters of all menopausal women will experience some form of hot flushes.
‘Flushes can be different for different women… some have transient episodes of feeling hot or sweaty, others might be drenched with perspiration, feel uncomfortably hot, go red in the face and be troubled with palpitations. Sometimes headaches, a sense of increased pressure in the head, vagueness, transient chills, fatigue, dizziness and nausea follow or accompany a hot flush.’
Flushing is related to oestrogen decline. As the ovaries are naturally winding down their oestrogen production the adrenal glands become the ‘chief producer’ – although at a much lower dose.
The challenge however is that the adrenals are primarily responsible for the production of our stress hormone, cortisol. Therefore if we live with constant stress, and don’t have in place good stress management protocols, the adrenals will be so busy pumping out stress hormones that it won’t have time to produce any oestrogen… hence resulting menopausal symptoms.
Studies however, show women who have a good diet and exercise regularly suffer fewer menopausal symptoms. So here are some tips to get those flushes under control.
- Avoid sugar and reduce caffeine and alcohol (these aggravate hot flushes)
- Include in your diet foods rich with phyto-oestrogens – linseed meal, whole soybeans/tofu, alfalfa, peas and legumes (adding just 100g of tofu and 1 tablespoon of ground linseed to the diet everyday can reduce hot flushes and improve vaginal dryness).
- Make exercise a priority and aim for 30-40 minutes most days
The following herbs have been used for centuries for the management of menopausal symptoms
Black Cohosh has been shown to help with the following symptoms of menopause: hot flushes, vaginal dryness, menopausal depression, bone and joint pain and menopausal arthritis
Sage is traditionally used for night sweats and hot flushes.
Zizyphus also helps with abnormal sweating and has been traditionally used for spontaneous sweating and night sweats, especially when accompanied by anxiety, irritability, palpitations and insomnia. These symptoms can occur during the peri-menopausal years, as well as being common symptoms of nervous exhaustion (Trickey 1998).
Dong Quai is a beautiful herb to use for Menopausal problems as it is a wonderful tonic to the whole female reproductive system.
Withania, Rehmannia and Rhodiola are wonderful herbs that will nourish the nervous system and nurture the adrenal glands. It is very important to support the adrenal glands when under high stress because stress levels play a major role in exacerbating the symptoms of menopause. Many women are overworked and fatigued and this is when these adaptogenic herbs are needed.
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