MENOPAUSE BLOG: NATURAL ALTERNATIVES TO HRT
Updated: Apr 9
This type of blog from me is long overdue, I've written about many things but never thought to write a blog specifically about this, until I was asked about this option the other week.I've spent the last 5 years exploring, researching, testing and observing and creating natural alternatives to HRT with herbal remedies and nutritional supplements, and lifestyle solutions to alleviate just about all of the associated menopause symptoms; through experience we now have an effective tool kit of support.
I speak to dozens of women a week, and the topic turns to menopause very quickly even if I'm at an event and not the speaker! I'm thrilled that it's a topic that is talked about more and more, but also dismayed when I hear women dread their menopausal future and think that they can't get through it without hot flushes, fatigue, depression and anxiety. Also that their long term health is doomed if they do not want to take HRT.
We've tipped the balance from not talking about menopause to over exposing the negative symptoms; now women think this is the only way through the menopause, but it absolutely isn't.
I didn't realise this until a few weeks ago when I asked a woman why she didn't think she could be in the menopause (her periods had stopped whilst she is only in her 40s) and she replied: " because I don't have hot flushes"! I couldn't believe this, she thought because she wasn't suffering she couldn't be menopausal. This really opened my eyes to how women are thinking at present.
A successful menopause is no periods and no symptoms
Let's start with a good baseline:
If your periods have stopped, and you're a year or more with no symptoms THIS IS GOOD NEWS. You've had a good menopause, you're symptom free - Congratulations!!
Like all things media, we only hear of the worse case scenarios and of course in my line of work I only meet and talk with those that are having a debilitating time, so if I viewed the world through my work I'd see that every woman is suffering; but that is not the case. What is the issue though is that those women that are suffering and don't know how to resolve their symptoms and who to turn too; and this is where I come in.
The perimenopause hit me hard, I just didn't realise it. I'd say it started around 42, emotionally tearing up very easily and by 44 I was on my knees feeling like my job in computer software was killing me; then by 45 my memory was shot. I linked all of this to stress, but then found out I could be menopausal; this was great! I had something to work with and resolve. Which I did, as now at 50 I have my old brain back (reckon it's a good as when I was in my 30s) and I'm completely symptom free with plenty of energy!
I first started seeing women to relieve their menopausal symptoms at my clinic in Cheltenham 4 years ago. I'm a shiatsu practitioner and I used my theory of chinese medicine (a lot of big books) to learn what acu points to press (like acupunture) to relieve symptoms like night sweats, brain fog and bowel issues. At first hot flushes were such a complexity it took time to work these out; and it turns out to be a culmination of a handful of health tweeks (it's why it's the last chaper in my book!) .
After my initial success with helping women there were still symptoms that I couldn't resolve with shiatsu alone; and this went for me as well, I was suffering with anxiety, fatigue and memory issues, and I had to realise that shiatsu alone couldn't fill the gap in my health alone. These symptoms specifically are caused by 'deficiency' in chinese medicine terms.
This means something is missing, so we have to add something back in, and this lead me to understanding about supplements and which ones you need to resolve which symptoms.
Resolve your perimenopause and menopause symptoms naturally
In last month's blog I went into detail about the 2 major causes of your symptoms in the perimenopause - stress and lack of nutrients - catch up on it here to understand what's going on with your health and why we need to start with the basics to start resolving your symptoms.
Your symptoms are your body telling you that something is wrong, it's just you haven't got a clue what it is asking for. You know if you have a pain you take a pain killer but the symptom set you're experiencing right now isn't pain (unless you have aching joints and muscles). How do you know what to do to clear brain fog, or to reduce anxiety or relieve night sweats? Do you add things in or take things out?
I'm going to give you my Top 6 Starting Points here today and for more information it's continued in my book 'Understanding Your Menopause'. Once you understand that your symptoms are in fact your health under a microscope (thanks to your declining progesterone) you'll then understand why I'm explaining the simple and necessary changes you can make and to help your symptoms dissappear!
Top 6 natural remedies as alternatives to HRT - Relieve your symptoms naturally
I looked up the definition of remedy as I wondered what a 'remedy' technically is :
Def: a medicine or treatment for a disease or injury
The menopause is neither disease or injury, it is an imbalance in your health, however we can resolve these symptoms with natural treatments and nutritional supplements.
1. Start taking a foundation set of supplements
This is a basic set that covers where your health is at if you're experiencing ANY symptoms - these include:
Multi Vitamin (do not jump over this one in favour of something more fancy, you really need a multi vit, a good one though!).
Magnesium, the root of good sleep and ache free muscles.
Omega 3 oil to support your brain function
vitamin D3 to support your mental health and bone health
vitamin C for boosting collagen which leads to your long term heart health and therefore can relieve hot flushes (or they may never arise).
I've spent the last 4 years researching and testing supplements so I know exactly the set and the brand (for quality of supplement to go to) click here for my quick supplement guide.
Don't be fooled into splashing out on a 'one size fits all' supplement; it may or may not help you; they tend to have a small amount of everything and not enough of anything. It's best to start with the basic components of your body chemistry, the right amount of vitamins and minerals and take it from there.
2. Sort out your sleep
Easier said than done I know, so start with my blog on insomnia and that will guide you from there with supplements, how to relieve night sweats, sort out that 4am whirring brain and more. Sleep is the foundation of your health, there is no getting by on bad sleep, it won't get better, however your body may adapt but this will lead to exagerated health issues post menopause. Diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease and dementia start somewhere and they start in the perimenopause. Sort your sleep now and you'll have a great post menopause life!
3. Drop the caffeine
And it goes without saying drink more water. I don't advocate the 2 litres a day necessarily as everyone is different, I also don't insist on it being plain cold water. In Chinese medicine we look at the individual and what suits them, for you it maybe herbal teas for another it may be the 2 or more litres a day, go with what feels right, up your hydration anyway and especially if you feel sluggish, get headaches or feel tired around 3pm.
Dropping caffeine (as a bona fide tea addict) was one of the best things I did for my menopausal transition. The 3pm energy slumps stopped then and I'd suffered with them my whole life. Stress is also exacerbated by the stimulant and even one cup a day can affect your sleep. Switch to organic decaf, enjoy your tea and coffee.... sans caffeine, it really is worth it.
4. Take a probiotic
Another game changer for me, and for my clients. I got a gut parasite in 2018 the one thing I never wanted to get, and it left me in quite a mess even after antibiotics killed it. I thank my stars the day I came across Microbz, I liked it because it was a liquid, as it saved taking 'another tablet'....
What I didn't know at the time was just how many symptoms it was going to clear up! I took it for a weakened gut but in fact I was helping my digestion, my moods, my allergies, my bleeding gums, my body odour (lovely!), my immunity and plenty more. The great thing about Microbz is that on top of having 15 strains of bacteria (a lot of brands only have 2 or 3) is that they then have a range with blended herbs depending on what you need. I normally put a perimenopausal woman (has regular periods, no hot flushes/nights sweats) on Women, however if you're nearer the menopause and have heat symptoms (irritability, night sweats, mood swings) then it's definitely the Liver one that you need. If you're older with sleep issues, then Sleep is your one!
5. Eat more veg!
If you're one of those people that doesn't eat much veg and you like your potatoes, pasta and rice, let me tell you, your symptoms are going to diminish quickly when you put a variety of veg on your plate and cut down on refind carbs.
If it sounds too simple, it isn't! It's just a fact that your body wants the nutrients, you can get a lot from food and for those of us that need more (like me, I ate a decent amount of veg but it wasn't enough, when I took the supplements the symptoms went) you can have the additional support with supplementation.
I do understand that eating a plate of veg with the right protein, some good fats and chucking in some phytoestrogens sounds neither appetising or very edible. This is why I created my guide Eating for the Perimenopause and Beyond to liven it up and give you inspiration!
More fats + less sugar = less brain fog
6. Reduce Stress
Ah the biggie, where to start? This has been the one I've come around full circle on, remember at the start I said I had all these symptoms when I was around 42-44, then found out I was perimenopausal? Well, I was incredibly stressed throughout those years and more. I've since spent my life examining how you can reduce stress, both with supplements, eating, mindset and practical solutions, it's a big subject with many ways of helping you so it's beyond the scope of this blog; but let me point you in the right direction for help:
Read my blog on reducing stress
Take Ashwaganda, a herbal supplement - this is a stress adaptogen. More on it in my supplement quick guide
If you have anxiety learn how to reduce or completely alleviate this with natural methods in my Live Life Anxiety-free guide. It explains what causes your anxiety, how to resolve high cortisol levels and practical steps for dealing with overwhelm and more.
I said at the start this blog was long overdue, but actually for effective treatments that really work to alleviate your menopause and perimenopause symptoms it needed quite a few links to resources and research that I have done. Don't be put off or daunted, these are all small steps laid out, lifestyle changes that become habit, tweaks to your eating that are good for you, supplementing for those more stubborn symptoms and changing your health subtly for the better over the transitional years. Once your periods stop you'll barely notice and you'll lead a vibrant post menopausal life!
Online menopause specialist in natural treatments
This is what I do now, I still see women in person at my shiatsu clinic in Cheltenham for 'Shiatsu for menopause', but thanks to Covid I had to step out of my comfort zone and help women without the support of my shiatsu. Thank heavens it was successful!
You can now book a consultation with me (view options here) , I'll send you the forms to fill in where I look extensively at your current symptom set and your previous health history and during the consultation we will go into this in more detail. You'll receive a follow up plan detailing your bespoke changes in the various elements of your life, and your consultation may include some coaching if this is appropriate. You also have the option of follow up support as well.
I'm a shiatsu and chinese medicine practitioner with over 15 years of experience and I've specialised in helping women alleviate their menopause symptoms naturally over the last 5 years. Chinese medicine is a theoretical model that looks at your symptoms and groups them accordingly to analyse your energetic imbalances and then uses natural solutions like eating changes, lifestyle solutions, supplements and mindset support to bring you back into balance, This is where your symptoms resolve themselves, the more in balance you are the closer you are to optimal health now and for moving forwards.