Menopause is caused by the cessation in production of estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries, which results in the end of menstruation.1 Women who have undergone a hysterectomy with the removal of their ovaries will undergo immediate menopause. However, for most, this is a gradual process, and brings with it a variety of symptoms that can negatively impact daily life, including insomnia and other sleep issues, hot flashes, mood disorders, cognitive decline, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction. 2 Women going through menopause are also more susceptible to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes, so taking care of your health during this time is crucial. 3
Naturopathic Medicine for Menopause
51% of women use complementary and alternative medicine to manage the symptoms of menopause. 4 There are a number of different naturopathic approaches to menopause, including mind-body practice, herbal and vitamin supplementation, hormone replacement and dietary changes. 5 Naturopathic doctors also recognize that this can be an emotional time for some women as they come to terms with the end of their natural fertility, and journaling or counseling can be helpful.
Engaging in physical exercise on a regular basis has been shown to improve joint and bone health, increase metabolism, reduce stress, and improve sleep. 6 7 Targeted physical activity can help prevent osteoporosis as well as help to manage menopause-related weight gain, low mood, and sleep issues. Pelvic floor exercises are also often preventatively recommended for sexual health and bladder issues.
Removing Trigger Foods
During menopause, your body may become sensitive to foods that you used to be able to tolerate. It is a good idea to reevaluate your nutrition during menopause in case there are any substances you are consuming that are making your symptoms worse. For example, caffeine, spicy food and alcohol can be associated with increased hot flashes. 8 Blood sugar regulation is also important, as spikes in blood sugar may increase menopause symptoms for some. Talk to your naturopathic doctor to determine the best way to change your diet and whether an elimination diet to identify trigger foods may be right for you.
Herbal medicine can help mitigate the symptoms of menopause in some women. 9 10 Always speak to a healthcare provider before integrating herbal supplements, because some herbs will react with medications or may not be indicated for you based on your medical history. The literature is still developing for some of these therapies as well. Herbs commonly recommended for use in managing menopause include black cohosh, soy, flax seed, ginseng, red clover, evening primrose oil, fennel, ginkgo, licorice, St. John’s wort, and alfalfa. 11 12 Calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D are also important at this time to support muscle and bone health.
This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the individualized help naturopathic physicians can provide women going through menopause. If you are interested in learning about natural methods to improve your experience with menopause, speak with a naturopathic doctor. They will be able to recommend the best route for you and come up with an individualized plan that focuses on the symptoms relevant to you.
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