I've recently received a fantastic thank you from a lady who came along to my free webinar, Bitesize Menopause - How to resolve your symptoms now for a natural healthy menopause and then bought my book Understanding Your Menopause and followed the steps to improving the symptoms she was experiencing. Her results have been remarkable from removing all traces of PMS so that her period caught her by surprise to having a marked positive change in a medical condition that she has. It was a surprise to her nurse and it was great for me to hear but for a long time now I've been telling women: In Peri/Menopause -
You don't need meds you need nutrients!
Let me explain why in Perimenopause - You don't need meds you need nutrients!
Firstly let me be clear if you have any medical condition you do not stop taking the medication you are on, and if you are going to start taking supplements you should also have this discussion with your GP. Nutritional supplements are generally quite safe , herbal supplements are more complex. Today I'm going to be talking about nutritional supplements only.
If you're reading this now and you have monthly PMS, fibroids, stress, heavy periods, sleep issues, anxiety, gut health complaints and many more symptoms that you're putting up with as 'it's just part of life' then know your body is unhappy, it is out of kilter.
A majority of the symptoms of peri and menopause are called Deficient (or Depleted) symptoms from the view point of Chinese Medicine; this means they're caused by something missing in your body. The symptoms that are not included are excess symptoms and the main one is night sweats (these differ from hot flushes in the night). Night sweats occur specifically around 1 to 3am, Hot flushes tend to start upon waking more like 5am onwards and they are the ultimate deficient symptom!
In Perimenopause your body is depleted in vitamins and minerals
Depletion is created over a long period of time in your body, years and will be linked to chronic ailments too. During your 40s the first major hormone to go into decline is progesterone, it's a long slow decline, so much so that I ask women to compare themselves to who they were 3 years ago. Comparing this change over that length of time really highlights that these symptoms have slowly manifested over time.
Stress creates depletion and a lot of women have stress in their body's. I say this because some women may not feel stressed at all; but it is there, and most likely it's being overlooked or combatted with high intensity exercise; which in turn causes more stress. The more obvious outward symptom of stress is anxiety. I say that:
anxiety is the tip of your stress iceberg!
Stress in the body means the hormone cortisol isn't keeping up with the job at hand. When your put your body under 'stress' (mentally or physically) cortisol is released alongside adrenalin, so everytime you exercise to get that kick, you're putting more cortisol into your system.
Then there is estrogen, yet to be mentioned but it's now being affected by the lack of progesterone and the excess of cortisol. You're going to feel this affect as anxiety, brain fog, worsening gut health and period issues for example. Notice though oestrogen isn't in decline here, in fact as progesterone is low oestrogen can then become dominant and this is what is causing so many perimenopausal symptoms, NOT the lack of oestrogen.
What you need at this stage is more nutrition.
Eating more veg, fruit, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, legumes as these give you the nutrition and fibre that you need. Cortisol wants these good foods so that it can do its job - lower the stress and inflammation levels in your body.
If cortisol isn't fed it will take it from whever it can get it in your diet, and this leaves you with brain fog, anxiety, low moods and loss of libido, plus achy joints, insomnia, exhaustion... you can see how it all builds up.
You need to feed cortisol so that it can destress you, and cortisol wants nutrition.
It's this cycle that leads to the depletion in your body chemistry that I talked about at the start. If you're awake at 4am with a whirring mind this is one of the major flags that you have stress and that cortisol isn't getting enough nutrients to do it's job.
Starting with adding more nutritious food into your daily life is the way to go, this is the start of you leading a healthier life, but sometimes food alone isn't going to get you there quick enough. When you're combatting the initial excess of cortisol you may need to supplement with nutrients.
Nutritional supplements are the vital minerals your body needs. The most known ones are Vitamin B's, C, D, E etc and you may have read by now how vital Magnesium is, and you may have overlooked how beneficial trace minerals are (like Boron, Biotin, Zinc etc are) - this is why you can get them altogether in a mult-vitamin.
Feeding your body the nutrients that it needs
I can't tell you the medical conditions that supplements may help you with (it's illegal) and I'm not qualified but what I do suggest is, if you have peri or menopause (and also post) symptoms now that you start small. Too often people head straight for the end game - meds.
You visit your GP for advice, but their tool kit is limited and their guidelines strict. They can offer you anti-depressants and HRT and they can suggest that you alter your diet, exercise and lifestyle choices. Even that advice can be duff! If you're a physical trainer and you go in with symptoms like low moods, crying and loss of libido, to be told to exercise more is actually damaging to your health.
GPs don't tend to believe in nutritional supplements and I wouldn't like to suggest what they think about herbal medicine! I know I believe in it, it is extremely powerful and really should consult with a medicail herbal practitioner if this is the root you choose to go down. However before you tap into the power of herbal medicine think about balancing your body chemistry.
It may sound weird that as a Shiatsu and Chinese Medicine (theory of , not herbal practitioner!) I'm saying hold off the herbs, but I am.
Chinese medicine is about finding balance, in everything in your life. When I first pondered depletions v excesses in menopause I had to battle some of my own thought processes about whether I could be a legitmate pratitioner but also point you in the direction of nutritional supplements.
Ultimately I came to a YES I CAN, because, I took the supplements and I was amazed at how much better I'd felt. I'd had my shiatsu treatment once a month for 15 or more years at that point and thought I would fly through the menopause. What I hadn't realised was that everthing I thought was just life, or just getting older was actually resolveable. I put up with these symptoms (that I hadn't truly registered) until I couldn't put up with it anymore, which was the month my sleeo dissappeared!
One day I was frustrated and explained to a client this issue, and she said simply:
That's if you have the full kit already.
So simple, but et me explain! Shiatsu, chinese medicine and most energetic therapies say we have the capacity within us to heal ourselves. It's a short sentence but it is soooo loaded. I won't go into the psychosomatic side of things today, as that is a massive subject; I'll just stick with the you've got symptoms right now and you want to resolve them.
Remember further back I said about depletion? This ties in with the full kit: i.e. one healthy balanced happy 40 something women, with a stress-free and relaxed life - but does that sound like you?
My kit was sorely depleted, and if you're reading this so has yours; life has delivered us to this point in time and then hormonal changes start. There are major lifestyle changes you can make like introducing mindfulness to combat stress and I heartily recommend this (I've done it myself). It's an effective long term solution that will help you live a longer life; but today I come back to the now.
How do I start effectively reducing my symptoms now?
By feeding your high cortisol levels so that it can do it's job and stop leeching you of your nutrients. Once your nutrient levels are higher your body starts to work properly. Progesterone gets supported which can help keep oestrogen in check. Blood sugars start to balance with the injection of trace minerals in a mult vitamin. Magnesium and vitamin B6 will start calming your nervous system and your lost sleep in the middle of the night will return when you're back at healthy levels. Heart palpitations can decrease, your brain becomes clearer anxiety can subside, AND hot flushes will decrease (get ahead of the game and you may never have them!).
Symptoms are your body telling you it's struggling, and it's struggling for nutrition. I'm going to really hammer home this message today :)
Your symptoms are your body crying out for help. If they were pain you'd take action, it's just knowing the right action to take. It's not an anti-depressant, and for many it's not HRT either. In the survey of 4000 women that was carried out for the Davina documentary of women that tried HRT 50% said it helped. That meant thought that 50% said is didn't help! Why was this? In my clinical practise I've found that women who got worse when taking HRT responded postively to taking nutritional supplements instead. It does require a level of patience though, let's say 4 weeks.
Women who are busy, high energy, high achieves do tend to be less patient (to await the results) and have an if it doesn't work immedaitaly then it's not going to attitude . I can't help with that mentality, but what I would suggest is even if you choose HRT for possibly quicker results, think about supplements too because if you have these symptoms you are depleted in your vital minerals just like everyone else.
I do stress again that what you eat is your starting point, nutritional supplements are then a top up to this but food sources are the best. This is why the supplements I suggest are plant-based, they are like condensed nutrient rich food that your body readily absorbs. For example, I eat a lot of magnesium rich foods - including almonds, I was have dozens of them a day. I relented and bought a supplement, it suggest taking 4 capsules a day, I started with one, with the option to build up. But it only needed that 1 additional one to aid my sleep, I was getting there with food but with the best will in the world it wasn't quite fulfilling what I needed; and it maybe the same for you.
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