Menopause and Traditional Chinese Medicine
The average age for menopause is about 51 years. It’s important to remember that menopause is both natural and spontaneous, and that in many women, there are no particular negative effects at all. The term “perimenopause,” is the period of time in which a woman is transitioning from normal menstruation to cessation of the menstrual period.
For many women, menstrual irregularity is the most common symptom of perimenopause. Other symptoms include: hot flashes, night sweats, clammy feeling, rapid heartbeat, irritability, mood swings, weeping, difficulty sleeping, vaginal dryness, fatigue, anxiety, apprehension, disorientation, difficulty concentrating, sore joints, breast tenderness, headaches, indigestion, bloating, depression, weightgain, hair loss, light headedness and osteoporosis.
Most medical doctors will treat these symptoms with HRT, or hormone replacement therapy. Premarin is the most popular estrogen replacement, and is made from the urine of pregnant horses. According to some research findings, there is an increased risk of breast cancer for women who use HRT. There are also other side effects that are not as serious.
According to the theory in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), estrogen is somewhat similar to what we call the Jing, or the essence of Chi. This Jing is the source ofour Yin and our Yang, which is what gets depleted as both men and women age. Yin provides our blood and fluidity, and Yang provides our heat, energy and warmth.
Although the ovaries begin to produce less and less estrogenas a woman ages, the production of estriol is “backed up” by the adipose (fat) tissue and adrenal glands. If this backup system is working right, a woman will have very few, if any, symptoms of menopause or perimenopause. According to TCM theory, HRT will produce Liver Stagnation and Deficient Blood in the long run. Symptoms might include nausea, headaches, vision problems, and PMS-likesymptoms, among others.
Alternately, there are many Chinese herbal formulas that will work quite well on the majority of women’s symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. The following is a list of some of the common formulas I have used with much success:
Temper Fire: This formula works well both to boost the yin, which helps with energy,and also to reduce the heat and hot flashes.
Dr. Martin’s Menopause Formula: I designed this formula for women experiencing the first signs of hot flashes, dizziness or fatigue. When it is used with Dr. Martin’s Yin Formula, many women will find that their symptoms disappear in a matter of days or weeks.
Quiet Contemplative: This is similar to Dr. Martin’s Yin Formula, but used for women who prefer an herbal liquid tincture instead of capsules.
Wise Woman’s Well: This formula strengthens the Kidney energy and is helpful when there are palpitations, anxiety, insomnia and hot flashes.
Compassionate Sage: Also helpful for palpitations, insomnia, anxiety or irritability.
Dynamic Warrior or Rehmannia Eight: These two formulas help to increase Yang energy and are helpful for fatigue, spaciness, poor sex drive, lack of will power and assertiveness, weak knees, and low back pain.
Woman’s Precious: Very helpful when there is fatigue, anemia, light-headedness, vaginal dryness, or wrinkled skin. It helps to build the Yin and Blood.
It is also helpful in many cases to use a liver detoxprogram. This assures that the liver is breaking down the estrogen and other hormones circulating throughout the bloodstream. For this, I useDetoxification Factors, Relaxed Wanderer, Liver Rinse, and other teas and herbs that benefit the liver.
For poor sleep, there are many different formulas available. Some of the most commoninclude Ginseng & Zizyphus and Ginseng & Longan. Symptoms that might indicate these formulas include insomnia, fatigue, palpitations and anxiety.
Other formulas I use frequently include the following:
Women’s Journey: When there are mixed cold and hot symptoms.
Women’s Rhythm: During the beginning stages of menstrual irregularity.
Women’s Chamber: When there are cysts or tumors or lumps of any kind.