The most natural of changes ...
There is a period of time for both men and women that is the natural and normal transition past the reproductive life. This transitional period can last for several years and the symptoms experienced are a reflection of the health and strength of your body systems. The bodies of both men and women experience fluctuations in reproductive hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone because once our reproductive capacity is over, we do not need such high levels of these hormones. So transitioning away from the ovaries and testicles as the center of hormonal production and towards the adrenal glands and liver as the new sources of these hormones in lower levels, is a normal and natural occurrence in all species, including our own. This is menopause for women and andropause for men.
What should this transition be like?
During this time, it is normal for both men and women to begin to experience changes in mood, body temperature, energy level, muscle strength and development while they adjust to the lower levels of hormones. For our purposes here, we will be discussing the menopausal time for women.
The process begins for women with the gradual development of fewer ovarian follicles and so the maturing of the egg becomes erratic. Bleeding irregularities occur because of the fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone and the irregularity of egg maturation. During this time the liver and adrenals need to increase in their function, and so if these organs are already weak, overburdened or dysfunctional, symptoms will emerge. These are often the first signs of what has come to be known as Peri-Menopause. These signs of dysfunction may include:
- skin itching or dryness
- vaginal changes
- anxiety, depression or unexplained grief
- loss of focus and concentration
- mood swings
- night sweats
- hot flashes
- anger outbursts
So the first step is to realize that all of these symptoms are NOT normal. These are indicative of a pre-existing imbalance that is now made worse by this natural and normal transition.
What are my chances for breast cancer?
Although many breast cancer tumors are estrogen-driven, there are many that are not. These are what account for the breast cancer rates among post-menopausal women. The risk does drop once you transition through menopause, but it is still very present, because of all the risk factors that can contribute to the formation of a tumor. The best way to reduce your risk is to acknowledge all the factors and adjust your lifestyle and preventive measures accordingly.
Our breast health program was designed to do just that. This is the only program of its kind to help women prevent breast cancer with active, effective steps and treatments.
Should hormones be artificially increased?
Many physicians recommend Hormone Replacement Therapy, bio-identical hormones or various topical estrogen creams in order to alleviate these symptoms. But this does not address the reason for the symptoms, which is not low hormone levels, it's the lack of hormone support from the second string! If you fail to realize that role the liver and adrenal glands play in this post-reproductive time, then you will also miss out on all the other functions these important structures do for you such as regulate your sleep cycle, control body inflammation, normalize skin reproduction, synthesize vitamin D, maintain blood sugar balance, reduce allergies and cleanse the blood.
Some women turn to HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) not because of bone loss or other debilitating symptoms but because they want to forcefully maintain high levels of female hormones and their effects. It is almost an attempt to avoid aging. In fact, this is not only unnatural, but even dangerous. We have experienced decades of hormone replacement therapy and it has taken this long for it to be evident that there are serious side effects and fatal consequences to artificially changing our hormonal patterns. Premarin and Provera have caused cancers, heart problems and breast issues, many of which are just now being recognized and diagnosed.
The dangers of HRT has led to a new fad in pushing our hormone levels, Bio-Identical hormones. These are made from soybean or extracted from mexican wild yams. But although these do produce shifts in hormonal balance, they do not reproduce our own inherent hormones. Human female hormones are made from cholesterol, and so differ from the extracts derived from plant material. Any application of concentrated hormones to the human body can produce side effects and bio-identical hormones, despite claiming to be natural, are no different. They have been linked to breast disease, heart disease and especially imbalances in our blood lipid profile.
And what about topical estrogen and progesterone creams? Well let's look at Wild Yam as an example. Wild yam contains dioscin, the only natural pathway for the production of progesterone. But in order to work, it must be ingested and not simply applied to the skin. This is because the gut flora are needed to make it active and bioavailable to the body. And the levels needed are much less than in the reproductive years, because it is only used to balance estrogen at this stage.
There are many more natural and effective ways with herbs, homeopathics and food to manage the transitional symptoms of menopause. But to focus on these and not to recognize the underlying issues, is to be blind to the future of your health.
Support the Liver and the Adrenal Glands
The best program for managing Menopause involves support for the new powerhouses of the body, the liver and the adrenal glands. Adaptagenic herbs such as Withania, Eleuthero, Rhodiola and Licorice can all make women feel wonderful during this time while helping the adrenal glands to adapt to the transition. Great liver support such as Cruciferous vegetables, Dandelion root, Rosemary, and Milk thistle can pave the way towards a healthier future. You also want to remember the thyroid which can tend to drop during this time. There is nothing like organic iodine to keep the thyroid strong, and give you deep, restful sleep. Another key component in your diet are essential fatty acids for proper hormone production, especially vitamin D which is actually made in the liver and the skin from cholesterol. Whole water-soluble vitamin B for energy is another important factor at this time.
This is a time for change. That means accepting your post-reproductive time as normal and natural and not strive to continue your reproductive hormonal life artificially. This is also a time for a much stronger focus on weight-bearing exercise for bone and tissue strength, whole foods and pure water to reduce the amount of toxins and debris the body needs to process. Going natural can help women feel younger, more energetic, healthier and stronger. If you have already been using a form of HRT, then you can gradually reduce your dependence on it and allow the body to function on its own. Just ask us!
How do I handle Peri-Menopausal symptoms?
Peri-Menopause can go on for years before a woman's body no longer contains eggs and hormone production diminishes as a result. This is when the main change begins. During this period, hormonal levels can fluctuate and it is these changes that bring on many of the negative symptoms typically associated with menopause. One of the most common symptoms is hot flashes. These can cause as much as a two degree difference in the temperature of the skin, and can just as easily cause rapid chills. They tend to be aggravated by caffeine, sugar, spicy foods and alcohol, so if they are actually occuring during the night (typically called night sweats), then eliminating these substances at dinner and after can make a big difference. At the same time increasing more specific essential fatty acids such as Wheat Germ Oil and Evening Primrose can reduce them, as well as herbs such as Sage for night sweats and Black Cohosh which suppresses the secretion of Luteneizing Hormone. Even Rehmannia in Chinese medicine is the perfect herb for hot flashes because of the rising kidney energy. As a woman reaches menopause her system displays less yin qualities (moist, receptive, passive) and becomes more yang (dry, hot, irritable).
It is also important to address the hypothalamus as the regulator of the hormonal organs with steroidal saponin herbs such as Wild Yam, Black Cohosh, Korean Ginseng, Shatavari and Tribulus. These herbs can alleviate many of the symptoms of estrogen withdrawal by binding to the vacant receptors in the hypothalamus. In this way it can soothe the body's expectation of estrogen levels and help to adjust it to the levels produced by the secondary organs. The same effect can be derived in men with Withania and Tribulus providing the support of adrenal adaptagens.
Other symptoms which can become disabling are vaginal dryness and irritation. Decreasing levels of progesterone and estrogen can cause the mucous membranes of the body to thin out and become irritated and more susceptible to infection. Again black cohosh helps with this, but also vitamin E topically, massage of the mucous membranes to increase blood flow and elimination of all vaginal treatments including douches. Herbs such as Wild Yam, False Unicorn and Tribulus may help by interacting with hypothalamic estrogen receptors, thereby allaying the effects of estrogen withdrawal. This can be found in our Wild Yam Complex (3-4 tablets per day) which contains False Unicorm, Wild Yam and Korean Ginseng. In fact in the Far East it is thought that Korean Ginseng can help to prevent cancer in women over the age of 50. Increasing foods that contain dietary sources of phytoestrogens are essential such as organic non-GMO soy, apples, black beans, celery, dates, lima beans, pinto beans, alfalfa and flaxseed.
Memory and thought can also be affected. This is believed to have an estrogenic aspect to it, but often it can be dietary. Levels of essential fatty acids and protein become more important than ever, and many women tend to ignore these dietary essentials, instead trying to lose weight by reducing fat. Ginkgo Biloba can be great, but it won't have as much of an effect as a steak! One thing that really does make a difference is a German Spagyric homeopathic remedy known as Cerebretik. It seems to really do wonders for all aspects of brain function and thought during this time of transition.
Worried about bone loss? There are wonderful natural formulas to help preserve bone without additional estrogen. A great combination is Nettle Leaf extract, Biost and Calcifood powder.
Insomnia driving you up the wall? This is the best time for Edgar Cayce's Passion Flower extract formula or Black Mission Fig syrup. Both beat counting sheep.
A reduction in libido is normal at this time because your body is based on the idea that libido is necessary for reproduction, not for retirement. But there are natural ways to keep your flame lit without bringing on the night sweats. Tribulus and Shatavari are an ancient combination of herbs that have proven to bring the men running. The herb Shatavari when translated means "she who possesses a hundred husbands"(I don't about you, but would you really want that?). It is considered both a general tonic and a female reproductive tonic, commonly used in Ayurveda. It is perfect for loss of libido and many of the symptoms of menopause.
Fatigue is a common complaint. Along with the iodine for the thyroid and Adrenal Complex for the adrenals, try Eleuthero and Rhodiola with Panax Ginseng. Your energy will really carry you through the day.
Post-menopausal hair loss is another symptom that plagues many women. This is generally a thyroid sign, so making sure you are taking thyroid support is the first step. Then add Trace Minerals B12 which are alkaline ash minerals essential for skin, hair and nails.
Muscle mass also tends to reduce once the menopausal years arrive. Tribulus and OPC Synergy are a great combination to take each morning to help your muscle mass stay lean and strong, while reducing recovery time after each workout.
Many women feel that weight gain is inevitable with menopause. Granted, it is more difficult to lose weight, but not impossible. You just have to support the weak links in your metabolic profile. Here is our tried and true formula:
- Adrenal Complex - 4 to 6 per day
- Thyroid Complex or Organic Iodine - 1 to 4 per day
- Evening Primrose Oil or Black Currant Seed Oil - 3 per day
- Large amounts of digestive and systemic enzyme formulas
- An increase in exercise to at least 4-5 times a week
- Elimination from the diet of all starch, wheat, GMO foods.
- Realizing that caffeine, alcohol, tobacco and black tea will make all menopausal symptoms worse.
- Increasing protein intake and reducing simple carbohydrate intake.
- Yoga and breathwork are the perfect daily regimen. Click here to learn more about our private Patanjali Yoga.