The word menopause originates from the ancient Greek language for moon/month (meno) and stop (pau). It’s the cessation of your monthly menstrual cycle.
Just before, during, and after the process of menopause the body’s estrogen and progesterone levels naturally decrease, as the female body is no longer preparing to conceive and birth children.
Could you imagine what would happen if someone remained fertile up until they were 75 or 80 years old and actually conceived and birthed a baby at that time? Yikes! They might need to change two sets of diapers!
We have a window in life for creating babies and then that window closes. Because of this baby making process, women, internally are built much stronger than men. Where men, externally, are built much stronger than women.
Menopause is a phase that the body and mind has to go through for development. It’s a natural process moving a woman from child-bearer toward her evolution into wise woman.
During the menopause years it’s time to shut a piece of the internal system down. And, it can be uncomfortable for a period of time, but it shouldn’t be unbearable.
The Pacific College for Oriental Medicine says, “A natural, but dreaded condition for American women, menopause does not seem to have nearly the same effect on women in China. It’s an interesting fact that 75% of American women experience noticeable menopausal discomfort, while only 10% of Asian women experience the same.”
So what’s different between Western treatments and Eastern treatments for menopause? Well… a lot actually.
According to western medicine, the standard treatment for menopausal symptoms is hormone replacement therapy that essentially puts those dwindling hormones back into your system. It helps many women alleviate the discomfort that can come with this transitional phase in a woman’s life. But, this type of treatment also comes with its own complications including increased risk of hormonal cancers like breast, uterine and ovarian.
The traditional eastern treatment focuses on supporting the woman through this natural phase of her life by altering her diet, using specific herbs to ease new bodily patterns, and addressing lifestyle activities.
Here is something to consider from the eastern perspective. As the body naturally ages, oftentimes we experience something called blood deficiency or kidney deficiency.
Below are some symptoms of blood and kidney deficiency:
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Body aches
- Numbness and weak tendons
- Poor memory
- Inability to focus/concentrate, feeling scattered
- Difficulty relaxing
- Lack of menses, menstrual irregularities
Do any of those symptoms sound familiar? If you are going through menopause I’m sure they do. That’s why it’s a good time to properly nourish your kidneys and blood during this important phase in life.
If we don’t take the time to nourish our blood and the kidneys, other symptoms can grow more pronounced. Like these:
- Deep depression
- No desire, or joy, for life
- Emotional outbursts
- Migraine headaches
- Chronic fatigue (consistently cannot get out of bed in the AM)
- Weight gain
- Uncontrollable anger
- Hot flashes/facial flushing….
Do any of those symptoms sound familiar? If yes, keep reading.
Here are three things you can do right now to nourish the blood and kidneys, and reduce/eliminate some of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause:
1 – Eat foods that gently build blood without congesting the digestive system:
There are many foods that build blood; eggs, beef, poultry, sea vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts, beets, pumpkin, carrots, leafy greens, oatmeal, brown rice. But, the key is to eat them without any type of extreme dieting (paleo, keto, raw, vegan…) and not eat them in excess. Extreme dieting of any kind, throws the body out of balance. At this time in life, it’s essential to find balance. Eating damp and cold foods clog the digestive system and inhibit blood production. These foods include greasy, heavy or oily/fatty foods, dairy products, refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour), alcohol, ice-cream, too many raw fruits (including smoothies) and too many raw vegetables. Overeating dampens the digestive fire and congests the system as well. Consider eating smaller meals at this time.
2 – Use herbs to support the process of change:
A wide variety of herbs from both western herbalism and eastern medicine have been used for centuries to support women as they go through this challenging time in their life. Including herbs to cool hot flashes, regulate the heart (stop palpitations), clear dampness in the digestive system, regulate the hormones, lift depression, and naturally lubricate the body. Some of the more common herbs that you may have heard of include motherwort, lemon balm, black cohosh, red clover, ginseng, dong quai, licorice root and wild yam.
3 – Do activities to calm/nourish the body, mind and spirit:
Menopause is a time in life when we need to ensure we are nourishing our yin (aka our feminine essence), to connect more deeply with ourselves, and eventually share knowledge with our community. This is the quiet, receptive, calming part of our body and mind. It means incorporating gentle exercises and activities that support this deeply nourishing part of our system. Some activities that nourish the yin include gentle yoga (not vigorous or hot yoga), Tai chi, Qi Gong, reading, walking in nature, cooking, water coloring, massage, and meditation.
If you are struggling with symptoms of menopause, try the diet and lifestyle suggestions above. And, remember to gently nourish yourself on all levels of mind, body and spirit as you go through this very important process of change.
You are transitioning into the wise woman phase of life. It’s a special time to love and honor yourself and your journey.
Andrea Beaman is an internationally renowned Holistic Health Coach, Natural Foods Chef, Speaker, Herbalist and best-selling author. Named one of the top 100 Most Influential Health and Fitness Experts, she is also a recipient of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Award for Excellence in Health-Supportive Education and a Health Leadership award from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Since 1999, Andrea has been teaching people how to harness the body’s own preventative and healing powers using food, herbal remedies and alternative medicine.
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