menopause

Eat Right for Your Menopause Type

Chinese Medicine categorizes food by their energetics. At its most basic food energies can be divided into heating or cooling, dampening or drying, and building or eliminating. A fairly clear example is dairy; it has damp energetics. That is why people who have a lot of sinus issues or allergies tend to have more mucous when they eat dairy. Every time you eat you take in your food’s energies that then influences these energies in your body. In a previous post on improving digestion I talked about how ice water puts out your digestive fire. This is because of the cold properties of ice water. You can read about that here.

You can apply the information about food energetics to address various conditions. I treat a lot of perimenopause and menopause in my Decatur acupuncture clinic. While Chinese Medicine patterns in menopause are much more nuanced and complex than yin and yang but this is a nice basic place to get started. You may have symptoms of both yin and yang deficiency but focus on what seems more dominate to you.

Foods for Yin Deficiency Follow this if you have symptoms of: dry eyes, mouth, skin, vagina; ringing in the ears; vertigo; night sweating/hot at night

Foods to include

  • Grains: barley, millet
  • Vegetables: alfalfa sprout, artichoke, asparagus, kelp, mung bean sprout, pea, potato, seaweed, string bean, sweet potato, water chestnut, yam, zucchini
  • Fruit: apple, apricot, banana, lemon, lime, mango, mulberry, pear, persimmon, pineapple, pomegranate, watermelon
  • Beans: adzuki, black, kidney, lima
  • Bean products: tofu
  • Nuts & seeds: coconut milk, sesame seek, black sesame seed, walnut
  • Fish: fish in general but especially clam, crab, cuttlefish, oyster, octopus, sardine
  • Meat: beef, suck, goose, park, pork kidney, rabbit
  • Dairy: cheese, chick egg, cow milk, duck egg
  • Herbs & spices: marjoram, nettle

Foods to avoid: Caffeine, alcohol, sugar and strongly heating, pungent spices will all deplete yin

Foods for Yang Deficiency Follow this if you have symptoms of: cold feet, feeling cold in general, decreased libido, fatigue, abundant pale urine, loose stools

Foods to include

  • Grains: quinoa, sweet rice, wheat germ
  • Vegetables: leek, mustard greens, onion, radish, scallion, squash, sweet potato, turnip, watercress
  • Fruit: cherry, peach, raspberry, strawberry
  • Nuts & seeds: chestnuts, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, walnuts
  • Fish: anchovy, lobster, mussel, prawn, shrimp, trout
  • Meat: chicken, lamb, venison, kidneys (beef & lamb)
  • Herbs & spices: basil, black pepper, caper, cayenne, chive seed, cinnamon, clove, dill, fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, horseradish, nutmeg, peppermint, rosemary, sage, savory, spearmint, star anise, turmeric, thyme, white pepper

Foods to avoid:Cold food and cold liquids. Cold food refers to food taken directly from the fridge but also raw foods. Using a warming method of cooking such as soups and stews will also enhance the body’s energy. Note: hot seasonings used to excess will induce sweating that ultimately depletes yang.

Want to know more about how you can move through perimenopause and menopause with more grace and ease? Call 404-695-0905 to schedule a free consultation today!

Information sources: Debra Betts (2006). The essential guide to acupuncture in pregnancy and childbirth. Maoshing Ni & Cathy McNease (2012). The Tao of Nutrition.

Acupuncture Helps Perimenopausal Hot Flashes and Other Symptoms

Everyone knows what menopause is but did you know that perimenopause can occur in your 40s, 30s or even earlier?  Indications of perimenopause include hot flashes, fatigue, increased premenstrual syndrome (PMS), irregular menstrual cycles, insomnia, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, mood swings, anxiety, and breast tenderness. Perimenopause typically lasts about four years.  That means that before you officially even enter menopause (as defined by the cessation of your menstrual cycle for one year) you can start having many of the hallmark symptoms of menopause.  Yikes! 

Women experience perimenopause differently.  Some women will have no to mild symptoms and some women will experience symptoms that negatively impact their quality of life.  If you fall into the latter category acupuncture can help!

What I find in my acupuncture clinic is that women experience dramatically fewer and less intense hot flashes, they sleep better, are less fatigued and more emotionally stable.  All with no negative side effects! Why not regulate your hormones now, get relief from any perimenopausal symptoms you are experiencing, and set yourself up for an easier transition into menopause? 

From a western medical perspective perimenopause is marked by changing levels of hormones produced by the ovaries, mainly estrogen but also progesterone.  Western medical treatments consist of hormone therapy, antidepressants and vaginal lubricants.  Long-term use of systemic hormone therapy, including “bioidentical hormones”, has many risks including breast cancer, stroke and blood clots. 

A recent meta-analysis reviewed a large body of research and found that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of perimenopause “by improving clinical symptoms such as menstrual disorders, hot flashes, sweating, insomnia, and mood disorders.” The authors add that acupuncture benefits perimenopausal women by increasing estrogen levels and decreasing levels of FSH and LH along with other hormone regulation.  Additionally, one study included in the meta-analysis compared acupuncture with Premarin oral intake. Premarin is a brand name for conjugated estrogens. The acupuncture group demonstrated superior patient outcomes over the group taking oral conjugated estrogens.

You might be interested in reading my blog post on menopause and embracing your second spring: http://www.dogwoodhealingarts.com/blog/2015/11/2/the-7-dwarfs-of-menopause-and-what-to-do-about-them

 

The 7 Dwarfs of Menopause... And What to Do About Them

If you are reading this I am guessing you already know the 7 dwarfs of menopause:

So-Hot-I-Want-To-Rip-My-Cloths-Off Dwarf

Cranky Dwarf

Lethargic Dwarf

Unable-to-Stay-Asleep Dwarf

Forgetfulness Dwarf

Weight Gain Dwarf

Low Libido Dwarf

Sound familiar?  Worried this might be your experience in the future?  You are not alone.  About 75-85% of women experience hot flashes in menopause or even before they are officially in menopause (as defined by the cessation of menstrual cycles for one year).  Other common symptoms of menopause are lethargy, weight gain, poor memory, vaginal dryness and low libido.  Sleep is commonly impacted with difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking early and not being able to go back to sleep.  And mood swings…let’s talk about the mood swings.  Crying one minute, wanting to scream at everyone in your household the next minute and then crying again.  Women in menopause often feel like they no longer have control over their emotional life. 

Despite all these uncomfortable symptoms menopause can also be a time of great change for women.  It is a time in many women’s lives when they move away from a focus on caring for others to caring for themselves.  It can be a time of immense personal power, creativity, and expansiveness.  Many women find a new voice or direction during this time in their life. 

In Chinese Medicine menopause is related to the natural decline of prenatal essence that comes with aging.  When a baby is conceived it receives a certain type of essence from its parents called prenatal essence.  It is our constitutional inheritance and its quantity is finite.  When our supply of prenatal essence is used up in the process of living we transition out of this life.  We can slow down the use of our prenatal essence by supplying our body with good postnatal essence through healthy eating and living (more on that in another blog post).  A woman loses some of this vital essence each month when she menstruates.  Menopause is the body’s wise homeostatic mechanism to slow the loss of essence.  While it may not feel like it, menopause actually slows the aging process.      

Unfortunately many of us enter into menopause with prenatal essence already depleted due to lifestyle and dietary habits.  Anxiety, depression, stress, poor diet, overwork, smoking and alcohol all impact our store of prenatal essence and thus influence the severity of menopause symptoms. 

But all is not doom and gloom.  There are many things women can do to set themselves up for a smooth transition into menopause or bring relief to a menopause experience that is less than smooth.  See below for a few suggestions!

3 Ways to Get the Menopause Dwarfs Under Control:

1.     Dietary changes.  Avoid spicy foods, greasy foods, coffee and alcohol as these can all aggravate menopausal symptoms.  Instead go for dark leafy greens, seaweed, whole grains (such as rice, spelt, oats) and deep colored fruit.  It is best to eat cooked rather than raw foods (more on the why behind this in another blog post!).   

2.     Reduce emotional stress.  Easier said than done, I know!  We live in a hectic society where we eat irregularly, work long hours and take care of everyone and everything but ourselves.  Commit to a daily or weekly practice of yoga, taiqi, qi gong and/or meditation.  These practices all help to reduce stress and preserve vital essence.  Also do whatever cardiovascular and strength training exercise that you enjoy.  Exercise is a great stress reliever (and helps if you are struggling with weight gain in menopause). 

3.     Get regular acupuncture.  Acupuncture works to relieve menopause symptoms by restoring homeostasis and addressing the root cause of a woman’s unique constellation of symptoms.  Each woman going through menopause will have a different experience.  Chinese Medicine is a holistic approach that looks at the whole person and crafts a treatment plan that is individualized to the patterns and symptoms of that particular person.  Regardless of what set of symptoms you are currently experiencing acupuncture can provide lasting relief! 

Do you know someone struggling with menopause?  Please share this post with them today!