Most women in the United States dread going through menopause. Occurring within the age range of 45-55 years old, the symptoms of menopause can be severe. It can alter everything function of the body including weight, sleep and mood. There are a lot of medical options out there for dealing with the terrible side effects. However, are women doing more damage if they are not correction the source of the problem? In this article I will write about the root of menopausal symptoms and give another prospective, as well as how Chinese Medicine treats the root as well as the symptoms.
Western Medical Prospective
Menopause is a natural part of a women’s life cycle. It marks the end of menstruation and the exhaustion of egg production. Women are born with a pre-set number of eggs. The sooner a woman begins her menses, the sooner menopause begins.
The stimulation of follicles and egg production in the body are what produces estrogen. Menopause begins when egg production declines and the follicles cannot be stimulated to produce estrogen.
Estrogen decline massively affects the hypothalamus. Located in the brain, the hypothalamus controls and regulates many of the body’s responses. Things such as sleep, appetite, body temperature, blood pressure and water balance are all controlled essentially through the production of estrogen. This may explain why women put on weight, have vaginal dryness and sleep deprivation while struggling with menopause. The Chinese Medical approach is that menopause is the decline of yin in the body.
Yin and Yang
The two primary balancing factors in all things and in every body are yin and yang. In not only Chinese Medicine but in the Taoist religion, yin and yang are the essential balancing forces at work . It is similar to Einstein’s findings on the laws of physics. An object at rest will stay at rest can be considered yin. An object in motion, stays in motion is yang. Take a car for example. When it is parked is at rest, which would be in a yin state. Once the car moves forward, it becomes yang. The same can be seen within the body.
Estrogen in Chinese Medicine is considered yin. Yin is also associated with body fluids, sleep, cold limbs, and constipation. Yang would be linked to testosterone, physical movement, the thought process, heat or fever and digestion.
These two energies should be as balanced as possible to remain healthy. When one is deficient, the other dominates and causes symptoms in the body leading to illness.
Chinese Theory of Menopause
In menopause, yin becomes depleted. One of yin’s characteristics is cold. In Western Medicine, estrogen regulates body temperature in the hypothalamus. When there is not estrogen present, hot flashes and night sweats occur. The same is seen when yin declines and the yang takes over in the body. Yang is associated with heat, without yin, the body temperature heats and becomes out of control. Through the heating process of yang, dryness occurs, insomnia and the body feels constantly hungry. If the body is left untreated in a yang state, this will create long term effects on women. The process of menopause can last years from beginning to end with miserable side effects.
How Chinese Medicine Treats Menopause
When menopausal symptoms begin and Chinese Medicine is utilized, the transition into menopause becomes comfortable. Acupuncture is a great method to remove heat and heat type symptoms from the body. It is also able to deal with insomnia and mood swings.
Chinese herbal formulas are beneficial in building and nourishing the yin. Herbs can be used to deal with dryness, appetite control and regulating water.
Together, acupuncture and herbal medicine is able to recreate balance and eliminating menopausal symptoms. Dietary suggestions may also be incorporated into a women’s lifestyle to stabilize the body once balance is obtained.
Oriental Medicine has been used for generations in helping women deal with menopause. It is a completely natural method of balancing the body without side effects. In comparison, the Chinese medical approach is a fraction of the price of hormone replacements, creams and other methods. In my experience as an acupuncturist, generally I see hot flashes and night sweats dissipate within a week of herbal supplementation and regular acupuncture treatments.