Recently I came across an article on NPR stating that alternative practices such as yoga, acupuncture and herbal medicine DO NOT provide help for the menopause. Needless to say, I was taken aback. Personally I have helped many women transition through menopause gracefully with much less occurrence of life altering symptoms like hot flashes & waning libido with the combination of herbs, acupuncture, meditation techniques and lifestyle changes.
Rarely do I take the time to create an account with yet another internet location simply so I can leave a comment. Nor do I hand over my email address willingly, but this article struck a nerve, so I did. I got to watch my mother go through surgically induced menopause when I was 15 so I’ve always had a genuine interest in what can help a woman transition gracefully through this time. A small house comprised of two teenage girls and a single-mother in menopause would drive you to find a solution too!
After writing a reply and wondering how many people would actually ever see it buried in a sea of comments (btw most of them stating how this article was not helpful nor based on well devised studies), the article sparked the desire for a) this blog post on Menopause and b) a program to help women in peri and actual menopause. The Merge with Menopause Program was conceived! So if you aren’t there yet, please feel free to stop reading, unless you have a special woman in your life who could benefit and, if so please share. (You can click to tweet out this article here.)
The NPR article stated that OTC herbal medicines were not likely to work. This was the only part of the article I agreed with and here’s why. It’s unlikely that any OTC herbal program is going to work for you unless you get lucky. That’s because most of those products are based on a “kitchen sink approach,” meaning a small amount of most herbs that may help treat the symptoms of menopause are added together in hopes that one will work for you. My mentor, Dr. Leon Hammer, would repeatedly say in his lectures, "Health food stores are the most dangerous places on the planet for people and our profession." This is exactly what he was referring to. Taking away symptoms is never a good idea unless you understand and address the root imbalance that led to the symptom in the first place. (Click to tweet.) It will just show up in another symptom--sometimes worse than the first! Secondly, just because something is natural, does not mean that it won’t harm you, interact with any of the other medications or supplements you are taking, or possibly make your symptoms worse, yes worse!
There is a saying in Chinese herbalism that translates to the following.
Same formula will treat different dis-ease, same dis-ease will need different formulas for different people. (Click to tweet.)
Let’s say you and your best friend are going through menopause at the same time. You feel cold after a hot flash while she continues to feel like she could burn down the entire village. You could care less about sex, but have no issues with vaginal dryness. Meanwhile, your friend is extremely eager to reclaim an empty house with her husband, yet she’s dryer than the Sahara desert downstairs and the thought of sex makes her want to cry. Why would you ever get the same herbal formula? One of you needs supplements to stimulate your yang/ or life force and get you moving in order to stop the hot/cold flashes and the other needs to be cooled by supplementing Yin or the fluids of the body, not necessarily by clearing heat with cooling herbs. That approach would actually make both of you worse!
I certainly don’t want to scare you by illuminating this possibility, but I do want to make sure you seek out expert guidance, whether that’s with me or someone else. You can find a board certified acupuncturist/ herbalist with a specialty in women’s health at www.ABORM.org.
Natural solutions do work well for many women when you seek the guidance of professionals that have devoted their lives to understanding how this medicine works. If the engine in your car blew up you wouldn’t consult your neighbor the plumber to fix it, so why would you rely on the stock boy at your local health food store to point you towards your best herbal solution?
I am passionate about helping women, but I’m even more passionate about empowering them by teaching women how to safely help themselves. It’s important to me that each client understands what exactly is out of balance in their bodies and how to honor and restore balance to their bodies with perspective and lifestyle changes.