Here are the nuts and bolts of things you can do to help yourself, naturally. First up, I am not a medical practitioner of any sort. My qualifications to talk about menopause are personal experience – I am a menopausal woman! It is my opinion that every woman has the right to choose how to look after her own body during every stage of life , particularly menopause, which so many ( but not all ) doctors treat as a disease. It’s not! Personally, I feel HRT, ( hormone replacement therapy), anti-depressants and other medications routinely given to menopausal women are not safe – but it’s your body, your life and your choice. Just educate yourself on all the options first, so you can make the best choices for YOU. Time for a couple of warnings – natural does NOT automatically mean SAFE. Poisons occur naturally too. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it cannot harm. A lot of things are safe but if in doubt, leave it out or check first. Second warning – if you are already taking HRT ( hormone replacement therapy ), anti-depressants or other pills, some things such as herbs, may be contraindicated. Check with your health care professional. Some things listed on this page, like exercise, help everything and are not harmful unless you have an injury, recent surgery or are done to excess. I think natural therapies coupled with good lifestyle choices can lead to optimum health.
First natural thing you can do is boost your general health. You want to be in the best health you can manage to achieve, from perimenopause right through menopause for the rest of your ( hopefully long ) life. Probably a good idea to be in the best health you can manage your whole life, right from childhood but if you haven’t looked after yourself so far, now is the time. So many ways to do this, even if you are already generally healthy.
Get enough sun – vitamin D is a hormone not a vitamin and so vital for balancing your hormones. Hormones are just chemical signals but they are so finely tuned it doesn’t take much for them to get out of whack. You can take vitamin D supplements, but it’s better if you get some sun and your body makes it naturally. 20 minutes a day on most of your body- not in the heat of the day in summer. If you burn easily, work up to 20 minutes. Try not wearing sunglasses so much. Yes, I know it goes against what we have been told, but if you wear sunglasses, your eyes do not adsorb the frequencies of sunlight they require to send the signals to your body to produce the chemicals to protect your skin. Also, eating fresh fruit, raw and in season, helps to protect your skin.
Eat wholefoods, not processed foods. The more wholefoods and less processed foods you eat the better you will feel. Fruit, fresh and ripe and eaten raw, is the best thing you can do for your body. It doesn’t need processing. Comes in natural packaging, called skin. Fresh vegetables, mushrooms, nuts and seeds – all can be eaten raw or only lightly cooked, these are packed with nutrition. ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’ – it’s a famous quote by Hippocrates and it’s true.
Detox your body, look after your gut bacteria. Gut bacteria is an often overlooked part of the digestive tract but without it we cannot digest our food. The more beneficial bacteria and the greater diversity of these bacteria we have, the better. Try a good probiotic from time to time, especially if you have taken lots of antibiotics during your life. Look for one with prebiotics in it as well. ‘Biotic’ means life, so a probiotic is pro -life. Guess what antibiotic means!
Drink Filtered water – and lots of it. Your body is made up of between 60% to 70% water – and your brain has an even higher percentage of water, so you want to keep drinking to keep it replenished. The word ‘brain’ means ‘house of rain ( water)’, so make it good filtered water, don’t pollute your ‘house of water’. Not tea, not coffee, not wine, not beer, not soda drinks – water! Doesn’t have to be bottled water – get a filter and filter your tap water.
Exercise– move your body! Life is movement. Exercise helps everything to function better, from digestion to your mood to your sleep/wake cycle – everything! It helps on a cellular level. You don’t have to be a gym junkie, ( in fact if your aren’t, then best not to start on that! ) just go for a walk or something you enjoy. Dancing, yoga, tai chi, playing a sport, gardening, bicycling, swimming are all great exercise. Yoga and Tai Chi is also good for stress management. Find something you enjoy because it needs to be done regularly and at least 4 -5 times a week. A 10 minute walk once a week won’t cut it!
Love and relationships – don’t underestimate the importance of social connection. Humans are social creatures, we don’t do well in isolation. Keep up friendships and those social connections – even small things like talking to people in the park while walking the dog or going for a walk are good.
Meditate – for stress relief and general health. Meditation has so many benefits, it’s a pity we don’t learn it in school so it becomes a lifelong habit at an early age. It’s not too late – make it a habit now.
Get Massages – so good for stress relief as well as sore, tired muscles. And it makes you feel amazing and pampered. Regular massage works best, in my opinion. However, if you can’t manage that, the occasional massage is better than none at all.
Find something you love – have a passion, ‘a thing arousing great enthusiasm’ ( from the dictionary ) or find something to be enthusiastic about and spend time on it. Learn all you can about it, join a group if possible and then get the double benefit of social conection as well. You can have more than one passion, mine are health and animals, especially cats. All of them, from tigers to Singapuras ( smallest breed of cat ) and everything in between. Yours is whatever floats your boat and having something to be enthusiastic about improves your health – and your happiness.
Natural Treatment for Individual Symptoms
Hot flushes ( or flashes, depending on which book you read ) vary from mild to severe and one of the reasons HRT is popular. HRT does work for a lot of women, but it also does have side effects, which also very from mild to severe. Acupuncture also works for a lot of women, no side effects but may take several treatments. Chinese herbs can also be effective, sometimes it take a few weeks for improvement to be noticed. I have used both acupuncture and Chinese herbs and found them very helpful.Warning – herbs are medicine and can be dangerous if taken in the wrong dose or in the wrong combination or with other medications. See a good herbalist, naturopath or TCM ( Traditional Chinese Medicine ) practitioner and tell them everything you are currently taking, even if it’s not for menopause and even if you don’t think it’s important. Even supplements. They will take that into account and will change the herbs to ones that are not contraindicated ( clash with ) whatever you are taking. My TCM practitioner likened the herbs to signals for your body, your body does the work of healing itself, the herbs just give it the signal on how to go about it.
Homeopathic remedies – can also be useful. The beauty of homeopathic remedies is that they are completely safe and have absolutely no contraindications. So you can use them no matter what medication, supplements or whatever you are already taking. One homeopathic remedy for hot flushes is sepia 30c. Take 2 pills every 30 minutes for up to 10 doses, then wait and see. Homeopathic remedies are also usually very inexpensive. Check out some homeopathic apps, they will tell you what to use for all kinds of things, headaches, sprains, pains, splinters and so on. Some of the apps are free.
Night sweats – same as for hot flushes. It’s the same hormone upheaval that causes it.
Insomnia – sleeplessness is a real pain and there is a link between lack of sleep and depression, anxiety, brain fog, fatigue and more so by getting more good quality sleep, you could potentially minimise or eliminate a whole heap of other symptoms.
Depression – good diet and exercise. Exercise has been clinically proven to be more effective than anti depressant drugs to relieve mild depression, with no side effects. I witnessed a family member dealing with clinical depression and as far as I could tell, all the drugs he was prescribed didn’t help him recover. They seemed to be keeping him depressed. He was able to function – just barely – but didn’t improve. He was on anti- depressants and other drugs for well over 10 years. He did recover eventually, when he was finally weaned off the anti-depressants and had counselling, group therapy sessions and exercise, with very little medication. It still took almost 12 months, not a quick fix.