Eventually all women will go through menopause and it can come with mild or even debilitating symptoms. “The Change” is due to the ovaries ceasing to produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone. As a woman enters perimenopause (the years or months before menopause) she may have irregular periods, hot flashes, sleep disturbances and emotional fluctuations. Menopause is defined when a woman hasn’t had a period in over a year. This usually occurs in the early 50’s for most women but it can be sooner due to surgery or chemotherapy. Menopause can last anywhere from 2-8 years.

Anxiety and depression can elicit both emotional and physical symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

Some women experience hot flashes, flushing and night sweats which can be relentless. Other symptoms include mood changes, insomnia, decreased sex drive, fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, vaginal dryness, and brain fog. It all depends on their physiological constitution, lifestyle and diet. There are some lucky women who will have no symptoms of menopause. The good news is that acupuncture and herbs can help!

How can acupuncture and herbal medicine help?

First, a full intake is done to explore and understand the woman’s overall health. In Chinese Medicine this time of our lives is when we have a decline of Qi, Blood and Jing (our vital life force). Acupuncture is used to balance the energy flow in the body, clear heat and calm the mind. Unfortunately, we can’t stop the aging process but we can make it smoother, more comfortable and keep Qi and Blood moving.

Menopause is either treated as Kidney Yin deficiency or Kidney Yang deficiency. Our Kidney energy is the root of the body’s reproductive system and our source of Qi (energy). Disharmony in the Kidney Qi can affect our Liver Qi and Heart Qi. Liver Qi and Heart Qi play a role in controlling blood and have a direct link to the control of hormones and emotions. Acupuncture is most effective at the first sign of symptoms but can be helpful in any stage.

The most common symptom of menopause is hot flashes. According to Chinese Medicine, hot flashes are due to the Yin Qi in the body declining and leading to an excess of Yang Qi. This Yang Qi is not anchored and therefore rises in the body and causes heat sensations in the neck and face. Acupuncture is used to clear the heat by dilation of the blood vessels. Many studies have shown that acupuncture works to reduce the frequency of hot flashes.

Another common symptom is insomnia. Acupuncture can work to relax and restore the body’s natural circadian rhythms so that sleep can occur more easily. Evaluating lifestyle and decreasing stress and anxiety will also help. Supporting and managing stress and anxiety also helps to restore natural sleep patterns.

Since it’s not possible to receive acupuncture daily, we use herbs as an adjunct therapy. Herbs can help maintain the balance that the acupuncture session created until you can receive another treatment. Additionally, the herbs themselves have properties in them that help balance hormones and ease symptoms. We have some natural herbal formulas to help with hormone regulation, sleep, depression, and anxiety.

Most importantly, everyone is different, so it’s important for each person to be treated as an individual with their own issues addressed. There is not a “one size fits all” protocol. It is best to schedule a session with an Acupuncture Physician to discuss your health history and goals of treatment so we can best obtain a diagnosis that will assist in creating a customized treatment plan.

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Carola Cooper

Dr. Carola Cooper AP, LMT

Acupuncture Physician

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