Menopause — creating the opportunity for a new beginning

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Paul Gaucher

All women eventually experience the ending of their reproductive years as their menstrual cycle ceases. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees menopause as a deep change that extends beyond physical changes. It’s a natural and normal part of a woman’s life, yet it has the power to affect her mind, body and spirit.  Menopause is a chance for a woman to prepare herself for a healthy, long life. It’s a time when she can heal, strengthen herself, and balance and harmonize her energies. Menopause creates the opportunity for a new beginning, as a woman becomes free to discover or pursue new interests in a profound and meaningful way.

This change typically occurs between the ages of 35-55, and the hormonal changes that occur at this time can cause many different types of discomfort. Some problems women deal with at this time include hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, headaches, moodswings, and stress. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is considered the standard treatment for menopause and related conditions. While this method may alleviate hot flashes and prevent osteoporosis, it will also increase the risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer, and have a number of significant side-effects.  TCM, on the other hand, offers a gentle yet effective way to address menopause and related conditions. Chinese herbs and acupuncture have demonstrated a marked effect on the endocrine system to alleviate hot flashes, insomnia, loss of bone mass, and other conditions associated with menopause.  In addition to acupuncture and herbs, certain nutritional and lifestyle changes are very useful.

Healthy oils such as evening primrose oil and flaxseed oil, which contain essential fatty acids can also help to alleviate symptoms.  It is also crucial to eat healthy food and reduce stress during this time in a woman’s life, and if possible, in the years leading up to this change. It’s an interesting fact that 75% of North American women experience noticeable menopausal discomfort, while only 10% of Asian women experience the same. It’s worth considering that some of the factors involved in this difference are dietary and TCM related, which are both comprised of natural elements. The idea that food can be used medicinally is an inherent Chinese cultural belief, as well as a fundamental principle of TCM. Research has increased the study of the relationship between women’s health and plants and plant chemistry, specifically chemicals found in plants called “phytoestrogens”. Western and Eastern medicine agree that diets rich in phytoestrogens found in certain vegetables can reduce the adverse symptoms associated with menopause.

Caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and spicy foods tend to promote hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.  Avoiding these lifestyle choices generally helps ease the symptoms of menopause naturally without side effects.

Summary of TCM treatment of menopause:

•Acupuncture to balance the system

•Customized Chinese Herbal Formulas

•Embrace a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables

•Avoid alcohol, coffee, dark chocolate and spicy foods

•Stress reduction techniques

Paul Gaucher (R.TCM.P) and his wife Dove Sprout (R.TCM.P) co-own Creston Acupuncture & Natural Health. They work at the Full Circle Health Centre, which also offers Physiotherapy, Chiropractic , and counselling services. For more information or to book an appointment, call the clinic at 250-402-2044. For further questions about what acupuncture and herbal medicine can treat, you can e-mail Paul at crestonacupuncture@gmail.com