Women have navigated their way through menopause naturally for centuries.
From regulating your diet to using plant-based medicines and supplements, you can do a lot to hold its nasty symptoms at bay. You can go further to practise mind-and-body techniques such as hypnosis or meditation. Another option can be to consider complementary and alternative medicines such as homeopathy, reflexology, or acupuncture. If you choose to go this route, make sure you seek help from a trained and registered professional.
The symptoms you’re most likely to want treatment for are hot flushes, sleeplessness and night sweats. It may not immediately occur to you to discuss alternative treatments with your GP. It is however important that you do, especially if you’re on any mainstream medication. If you’re considering or taking natural medicines or supplements, your doctor needs be sure that what you’re taking, will not interfere with your other medication and vice versa. You and your doctor can decide on an integrated course of treatment together, to get you through the process as painlessly as possible.
Some alternative remedies work better than others and not all are entirely safe. Make sure you research a remedy or practice thoroughly before adopting it.
The best place to start is with your diet. Experts recommend a balanced diet of whole foods, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, high-quality protein and dairy. You will also benefit from healthy fats, for example fish that contains omega-3 fatty acids. Soya beans, edamame, tofu and soya milk are also highly recommended.
Foods to stay away from include sugar, processed carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine and high-sodium or spicy foods.
Making a few simple changes to your diet will definitely ease your journey through this change in your life.
The jury is out on how effective plant-based medicine, herbal products and supplements are in relieving the physical and emotional woes of menopause. But, anecdotally, many, many women have reported relief from using soya beans, red clover, black cohosh, sage, St John’s wort, wild yam, kava, dong quai, evening primrose, ginseng and ginkgo. Some women swear by taking extract of red clover tablets and rubbing wild yam gel under their arms and on the breasts and stomach.
Naturally, with your oestrogen levels dwindling, your progesterone levels will also reduce. It may be a good idea to look into products to boost progesterone in the body to maintain hormonal balance.
All these remedies work in different ways and you will need to see which works best for you, if at all.
Hypnosis and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are safe and effective in treating hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia and sexual dysfunction. While other practices such as yoga, biofeedback and relaxation techniques will reduce stress and generally improve your quality of life, it wouldn’t necessarily relieve specific menopausal symptoms.
Of all these therapies, hypnosis appears to be the most effective. The down side is that it is difficult to find trained hypnotherapists specialising in relieving the unpleasant symptoms of menopause.
With an enormous range of treatment options available, you may feel overwhelmed. Don’t be shy to ask your doctor or another healthcare professional for advice.
By Linda Cilliers: Navigating Menopause: Naturally