It's funny how a couple of social media posts stand out in a short space of time with ladies saying the same thing: Why do I feel so ill? What is causing it? The Dr doesn't know, how do I resolve it?
When you're stuck in this position it's not only your body but your mind too feeling this way, and then your emotions decline, and you're stuck in a rut and can't see how to get out. It's a horrible place to be, and if you're not the adventurous type to seek different therapies you may not ever find a way forwards. You may even have such crippling anxiety that you don't want to leave the house. I'm going to explain what Bleurgh is and what you can do about it!
I feel I'm lucky, when I was younger my mum went for acupuncture and kineseology regularly to help with digestive issues, stomach upsets and most likely the underlying stress that was causing all her symptoms. She also tried colonic irrigation (something I will never try!) and did an effective diet based on her blood type, so her openess to try things helped her get over some of her issues. Later on she had regular osteopathy when I started receiving that, I was about 20 with back back and pelvis pain (and awful periods), then we both gravitated to Shiatsu when I started to train in that.
Whenever something is wrong, we seek out new ways to try and resolve what is going on in our bodies and for that I'm really grateful otherwise I don't know how I would have lived life if I was still in my 20 something state!
Why do I feel so Bleurgh?!
For a lot of you feeling not yourself or stuck, unwell, fed up and more, this maybe a very new position to find yourself in, and so you've never had to seek out alternatives to support your health, and now you don't know where to start.
Firstly I'm going to explain some of the underlying reasons why you're just not feeling yourself, and why you're feeling sluggish, nauseous, unmotivated or not be able to shake brain fog. If you've lost your motivation it's difficult to carve a new path, but hopefully some of what I talk about today will give you a lightbulb moment!
My background is chinese medicine and this helps me understand how the body works, link peri/menopause symptoms together, and know how to resolve them. There are a lot of symptoms in the menopause transition that are linked to something called Deficiency, you're missing stuff, like nutrients. When you're feeling Bleurgh though this can come from having too much of something in the wrong place, we call this Excess, and the good news is it's easier too remove something that is too much than replenish something that is too little.
Night sweats are a sure sign your liver is struggling
You may feel fine in the day but wake up sweating in the night, or you may be feeling just bleurgh all day long, these are just indicators of the same issue, your liver is struggling and would love some help.
What's going on in your body in menopause?
You know that your hormones are altering and this can create havoc in a lot of areas in your body and very importantly your mind, so we'll look at what the 2 main protagonists - progesterone and oestrogen are affecting and then what's out of kilter in your main organs (that's the chinese medicine part).
I always state I'm not a hormones specialist, but I have been to talks with Dr's talking about hormones so I can tell you what I've learnt and how I apply it in chinese medicine.
"When you think 'it's all in your head', it's the lack of progesterone that is triggering this...."
Let's start with progesterone as this is the first hormone to decline, and it's really important to know this because it's the decline of this one that allows many of the current perimenopausal symptoms to take hold - fatigue, anxiety, low moods, brain fog/memory issues. When you think 'it's all in your head', it's the lack of progesterone that is triggering this in a roundabout way. At this point you can still have a decent amount of oestrogen, and this is part of the problem. You can be in a state of oestrogen dominance, and so taking a blood test won't show you're menopausal because you haven't got to that stage yet, it's frustrating to be told this by a Doctor and it does leave many of you wondering what's going on if you can't attribute it to the big M.
When you're low on progesterone we see this as your sanity hormone, it's the one that calms you down in your monthly cycle where as oestrogen when it's ramped up makes you more irritable , volatile and unsure of yourself.
It can be many years later that oestrogen drops off, so you may have 5 or so years between your first symptoms and then the more known about symptoms like hot flushes. However if you have an early menopause or hysterectomy then these symptoms can appear at the same time as the early ones as both hormones have declined.
A lot of what you can be feeling is from the imbalance between these 2 major hormones, but this upheaval is having a knock on effect to your vital organs, and it's these imbalances that are leading to your symptoms like sluggishness, nausea, migraines, night sweats.
How your Liver gets in a state
People who know me probably think I'm obsessed about the liver, and maybe I do talk about it quite a lot but that is because so much of how you're feeling comes back to how well your liver is doing. Your liver is an anchor in your menopause health and when it isn't functioning well you get symptoms like night sweats, headaches, low level nausea and become more sensitive to caffeine, alcohol, sugar and spices, plus dirty oestrogens can be piling up. Your liver is a giant filter, the biggest in your body and it gets clogged over time and when it needs a clean it tells you with symptoms. You myabe feeling a low level nausea a lot of the time, feel sluggish, unmotivated, have pain under your right ribcage or have itchy skin a lot of the time. If you skin is bad, or you have reflux these too can indicate your liver is struggling.
I'm also especially sensitive to the condition of my liver as I drank way too much alcohol in my 20s and I was born with jaundice, so even at day 1 it wasn't functioning correctly so that is going to have been an underlying weakness though life.. Nowadays my weakness is sugar, the arch enemy of our liver, our gut, our brain health and our waistband size!
I recently had my food intolerances done and milk chocolate came up and I stopped eating it, without missing it very much but what happened? I started eating more sweet stuff instead!
There are your obvious sweet things and then those you don't realise are also causing an issue - like bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, and..... fruit!
Of course fruit is healthy, it has many nutrients compared to a choc bar but what you may not know is your body doesn't metabolise the sugars in fruit into energy for the muscles, it turns it into fat that sits around your middle. If you find you eat a lot of fruit a day this is something to adjust, berries are better. The big no-no's are juices and dried fruits as they are pure sugar, juice without fibre and dried fruits you can just eat too easily.
These sugars are clogging up your liver, it's a bit like dirty engine oil in a car, and the liver is the filter, it's all getting cloggier, slower and the outcome is less energy but also that feeling of bleurgh in body and brain. The dirty oil is your blood, so you're circulating less oxygen and nutrients and more toxins around your body so all of the other organs, including your brain are getting less and less of the good stuff, whilst being poisoned with all the bad stuff (this becomes inflammation throughout your system).
If you're eating sugars and not eating veg the healthy bacteria in your gut is also dying out, as the bacteria feeds on vegetation and whole grains (fibre). I help my clients support their gut by talking about their 'gut bunnies'! Imagine you're looking out of your garden window and you've been given a fantastic 'Fluffle' (yep, that's what it's called) of bunny rabbits. This lovely colourful vibrant fluffle of gut bunnies are happy and healthy on day 1, waiting to be fed.....
You give them cake, coffee, rice, meat (remember they're vegan) maybe a carrot or some sweetcorn (they like green veg), milk, white toast (they'd like the seeds in whole grain). Then at the weekends you're going to have something special like pizza or a curry; but do your gut bunnies find this food special? Hopefully you'll have a sunday roast and eat some broccoli or cabbage (and they'd love some dandelion leaves if you have any?)
"Your gut is responsible for creating 90% of brain chemicals
so that's why you're feeling 'Bleurgh'"
If you carry on like this how do you think your bunnies are feeling on day 2, day 7, day 30? Can you imagine looking out the window everyday and seeing them becoming more lethargic, picking at the foods you've put out but not showing much interest, sleeping more and more, and they really can't concentrate ....
Yep, that's your gut, and that's why you're feeling 'bleurgh'! And your gut is responsible for creating 90% of brain chemicals so that's why you're feeling 'bleurgh' mentally and emotionally too.
How to stop feeling Bleurgh!
You are so lucky, your body is incredibly forgiving, it can bounce back when it's given the right fuel, plus when you've cleaned it up a bit. If you feel like you're in a perpetual fog or there is just this underlying feeling of fullness or nausea these are all strong signals that you need to cleanse your liver.
If you don't eat vegetables then you do need to repopulate your gut flora with a variety of bacteria - known as a probiotic. A lot of the TV/ supermarket ones advertise they have 10 billion in, but this is usually only one strain, and what you need is a variety of strains; like the one I take Microbz Biolive (I suggest the Liver one if you're reading this and nodding 'that's me'!
Once you're repopulating your gut you need to help your gut bunnies thrive, so feed them the greenery they need. Earlier I said they're rather partial to a dandelion leaf and it turns out that dendelion along with other herbal goodies like milk thistle, artichoke, liquorice, turmeric are all good for supporting your liver on a daily basis. They support your detoxyfying process so that you have cleaner blood circulating and more nutrients being distrubuted to your gut and in turn, your brain. You need a variety of herbs to help you liver clease itself, and run the detox programme through of your gut and out of your body.
Your body is an incredibly complex machine and it needs a variety of vitamins and minerals to help it not only work but thrive, and unfortunately with today's food you don't necessarily get all the nutrition you need, so you have to supplement and this is especially important in the peri/menopause. I was eating very healthily but still nose diving into symptoms like anixety, brain fog and achinesss 5/6 years ago, and then my sleep went and I really started to panic. Supplements got me back on track incredibly quickly everything from Magnesium (to aid sleep) to Ashwaganda (to quieten anxiety) and many symptoms in between. Supplements do work, it's great if you can get the right ones (plant based - see Supplement Starter Guide for more information) and it's also great if you've cleaned out your liver and repopulated your gut at the same time as then you've got the best chance of feeling so much better and pretty quickly.
Your body is a balancing act
Your body is continually evolving, some symptoms will arrive, you'll deal with them feel better, and then 9-12 months later you'll feel changes again. This is how the menopause transition goes, and it goes on for years (probably noticeably around 5) and then once your periods have stopped your symptoms can continue. This is simply because they haven't been dealt with, they don't just go away when your periods stop. If you're reading this and you still feel like crud 2,3,5 years after your periods have stopped then you can still do all of the above; and it will work. It's better to put in the work to change how you're feeling now before you get bogged down by western medication.
Western meds affect your liver and so they're adding to the clogging up of your filter, this makes it more difficult to detox and of course you're taking meds for a reason so your symptoms are now a physical issue in your body and this can mean you're very reluctant (or your Dr is) about taking you off the meds. The really good news is that the more you look at these health changes now, the more your symptoms will dissipate (I'm 50 with very little symptoms but 5 years ago I was in a sorry state). They are reversible and they don't need a sledgehammer to crack, they need understanding and supportive changes, and then you will see the difference.
'"Bleurgh' is your body crying out for your attention"
To summarise 'bleurgh' - you're picking up that your body is out of balance, and this is very subtle, it's not going to show up in blood tests and xrays, and remember - this is a good thing! Your body needs some TLC, give it some time off from the way you're eating right now, go fresh produce, citrus, herbs, spices, and cleanse your liver, I have a liver guide to help you do just this! Repopulate your gut bunnies, they will need this help, and feed them, this will feed you, your energy and your emotions. Anxiety will lessen, anxiety is made far worse by a lack of nutrition, my Anxiety guide explains and supports you through this.
'Bleurgh' is your body crying out for your attention, your symptoms maybe far worse than this, you may have gone to your doctor and come away destressed that they only offered you anti-depressants (never take them UNLESS you know you're depressed), wouldn't give you HRT because 'you're not menopausal', and if you have regular periods, you're not. You are perimenopausal and your body needs a really good servicing, you'd do this for your car when the engine starts to stutter wouldn't you?
Ready to stop feeling Bleurgh?! Get Help From Andrea
If you're struggling then please contact me as I do consultations to help you understand and relieve your symptoms naturally and effectively. I'll tailor a plan for you to take action on and you'll receive the Liver Detox Video and Guide set too!
If you'd like to take action yourself I have a vast SELF HELP AREA find more information that can help you relieve your symptoms, where small changes lead to a big difference.
Andrea is a shiatsu and chinese medicine practitioner who uses the principles of chinese medicine in a completely practical way to help you resolve your symptoms naturally and effectively. If you live locally you can book in for wonderfully relaxing Shiatsu for Menopause, otherwise Andrea does online indepth consultations where you'll leave with an actionable plan to follow.