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Is it Me or is it Hot in Here?

Easing Menopause with Oriental Medicine

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All women eventually experience the ending of their reproductive years as their menstrual cycle ceases. The hormonal changes that occur at this time can cause many different types of discomfort when our bodies are not in balance. Some problems women deal with at this time include hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, vaginal dryness, headaches, and stress. There has been much discussion lately about the use of soy products to ease the symptoms related to menopause. Soy contains phytoestrogens that are help to alleviate symptoms related to the drop in estrogen that a woman's body experiences at this time.

In addition to supplementation with soy, there are many ways to balance the body and reduce discomfort during this natural change. In Chinese Medicine, the symptoms associated with menopause are considered to be a result of a decline in the yin energy of the body. Yin is the feminine, nourishing, fluidic, structural energy of the body. In this way, it is closely related to the feminine hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. The bone loss that some women experience at this time would also be related to yin deficiency and to deficiency of the Kidney in Chinese Medicine. The Kidney in Chinese Medicine relates to the health of the bones.

While many women seek out hormone supplementation, acupuncture and herbs, along with lifestyle and dietary changes can potentially alleviate menopausal symptoms naturally. One herbal remedy that Chinese Medicine practitioners often use for symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness is called Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, or Six Flavor Tea, which contains rehmannia, cornus, Chinese wild yam, moutan bark, poria, and alisma. These herbs are not commonly known here in the West, but this formulaís function is to moisten the body and nourish yin. These herbs may also have phytoestrogenic properties. The herb, vitex agnus castus, or chasteberry can also be useful for reducing discomfort. Acupuncture is also used to treat the symptoms associated with menopause. Two commonly used points are Spleen 6, which is three finger lengths above the inside of the ankle, and Kidney 6, which is directly below the bump on the interior side of the ankle.

In addition to acupuncture and herbs, certain nutritional and lifestyle changes are very useful. Certain healthy oils, such as evening primrose oil and flaxseed oil, which contain essential fatty acids can help to alleviate the symptoms of menopause. 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. All of these natural remedies may help ease the symptoms of menopause naturally without the side effects of hormone supplementation.

About this contributor: Farah Khan is a New York licensed acupuncturist.
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