Menopause is considered to be the end of menstruation. It’s brought about by the decreased production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Beginning somewhere around age 35 daily production of most of the major hormones start to slow. This decline affects metabolism, reproductive function and function of the immune system. It can also affect function of physical and mental capacities as well. By the time a woman reaches her 50s or 60s hormone production is only at about 25% of what it was when she was in her 20s or 30s, causing menopause.
Women can experience wide variations of symptoms during menopause including night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, irritability, difficulty concentrating, change in memory, decreased sexual drive, fatigue, depression, vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, muscle and joint pain and menstrual irregularities. Women also face an increased risk for osteoporosis and heart disease.
Menopause can be extremely difficult for women. Hot flashes and night sweats, amongst other things, can cause unbearable discomfort. Fortunately acupuncture and herbs are an excellent option for menopausal women, as they offer a safe, noninvasive and effective treatment for all menopausal symptoms.
In Chinese medicine, menopause occurs in a time when many women become yin deficient. Yin in the body is cooling, moistening, and calming. When yin energy becomes deficient women often get hot, irritated, anxious, and can’t sleep as well. So, the main treatment principle for menopausal women involves nourishing the yin aspect of the body with the use of acupuncture and herbs.
One of the main focuses of the acupuncture treatment for menopause is dispersing qi. This means that we are unblocking energy that has become blocked or stagnant. When energy becomes blocked for too long, it generates heat which will burn yin and cause yin deficiency.
Certain points are used that have a direct impact on nourishing yin, thereby regenerating the cooling aspects of a woman’s bodyAcupuncture used in combination with Chinese herbs creates a constant state of heat clearing and nourishing yin, even between acupuncture treatments. These approaches are natural options that are virtually free from side effects.
We have treated many women for menopausal symptoms and have found great success with our patients. One woman in particular came in complaining of extreme night sweats with hot flashes so severe that she found it difficult to sleep more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time.
Within three months of starting treatment she had no night sweats and no hot flashes. She was sleeping a solid eight hours without interruption. She was thrilled by the results of treatment and ended up sending several of her friends into the clinic for menopausal treatments as well.
I highly recommend seeking out a qualified acupuncturist if you’re interested in using herbs for hot flashes, night sweats or any menopausal symptoms. I’ve had many patients come in and saying they heard black cohosh was good for hot flashes, but it did not work for them. It is very important to remember that herbs only work if they address your specific differential diagnosis or constitutional needs. These needs are determined by examining the tongue, palpating the pulse and matching those findings with symptoms. This way a much more specific and accurate diagnosis can be formulated and treatment can be administered that will bring positive results.
According to Chinese medicine, a healthy woman should go through menopause without any signs or symptoms. It is a natural progression of a woman’s body and should be embraced as a rite of passage. Start enjoying your rite of passage by trying acupuncture and bringing your body back to a place of harmony and balance.