The great majority of women require no treatment at menopause whatsoever as the symptoms are minor and will pass without any particular treatment in a few weeks or months, or at the most two or three years. Since the use of hormones from an outside source has been associated with serious problems, it is recommended that the administration of hormones be avoided if at all possible. An increase in breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer has been associated with the use of estrogens, as well as fibroid tumors of the uterus, depression, and liver or gallbladder disease.
What is natural menopause? Only a few women get to experience it because of the high rate of hysterectomies, other surgery, and medications.
What happens after hysterectomy? Even though the patient has been told her ovaries were saved when her uterus was removed, it is questionable whether the ovaries are in fact useful or were seriously reduced in function by tying off blood vessels that nourish the ovaries, and mechanical trauma to them.
Osteoporosis is definitely the major health concern occurring in women, attributed to menopause. It is a condition of five, ten, even forty years in the making, and at the time of menopause usually has no recognizable symptoms. Most often it is only when a bone breaks that the condition is recognized. Prevention of severe osteoporosis is a result of two things: strong bone development before age 35, and avoiding bone-thinning health habits after age 50. It is not caused by dietary deficiency of calcium according to authorities in mineral and bone physiology.
Cardiovascular system: palpitations, high blood pressure, hot flashes (the major symptom)
Musculoskeletal: aches and pains (not osteoporosis, as it is usually symptomless), but usually a form of arthritis.
Genital: irregular bleeding, decreased libido, vaginal dryness
General: dryness and wrinkling of the skin
Neurological: nausea, dizziness, mood changes, irritability, depression, insomnia, numbness, tingling
The cause or causes of hot flashes are not known, but two theories merit mention. The first is inadequate breathing efforts. Sleeping on the sides rather than the back will discourage snoring (which in turn reduces the heat loss with each breath, allowing slight heat buildup in blood going to the thermostat in the brain. The brain then sends a message down to the skin to open up blood vessels and sweat glands). Lose weight, if necessary, to reduce the metabolic rate and to make each breath deeper. Practice deep breathing daily.
The second theory has to do with blood vessel tone. An experiment was done measuring the tightening of blood vessels in the skin after applications of ice. Women with hot flashes tended to lack the normal tightening of blood vessels; whereas women who had no flashes or very mild flashes tended to have a more brisk tightening of the blood vessels. There was a significant relationship between the degree of tightening and the severity of the symptoms.
The following are organs we can work with in order to optimize physiological processes:
- The adrenal glands in women secrete small amounts of male hormones, some of which are converted to estrogens in the body’s fat cells. Stimulate the adrenals with vigorous tapping over them with the fingertips for two minutes; and by alternating very hot water applications and very cold water applications over the upper back, one minute each for 6 minutes, ending with one minute of cold. Repeat daily.
- The liver has an overworked system for breakdown of estrogens. Relieve the liver and increase its activity by one day of fasting each week, ending the fast with breakfast, never with supper.
- The thyroid has an effect on metabolism. Stimulate the thyroid by a cool shower each morning, followed by a brisk but brief cold mitten friction for 3 minutes.
- The hypothalamus produces luteinizing hormone (LH). Stimulate by starting a new intellectual program, such as initiating a Bible study group in your home, or organizing a group ministry for a prison or an orphans’ home.
- The anterior pituitary produces follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and LH. Stimulate by being regular to bed and to rise, regular with meals, and regular with an hour of exercise daily and at the same time if possible.
2. Botanical Remedies
Herbs: The General Menopause Formula, one quart daily, by itself is about 80% effective:
4 c. boiling water
Add: 1-3 t. black cohosh (use the smaller amount if it causes a headache)
1-3 t. licorice powder
Simmer gently for 20 minutes and remove from fire, Add immediately the following:
4 T. red raspberry leaf
2 T. alfalfa leaf
1 T. catnip leaf
Other herbs that have estrogen and progesterone precursors are hops and ginseng. All ginsengs have a lot of saponins in them which stimulate the nerves and cleanse the bowels. Chaste tree tea can be used as a progesterone replacement; wild yam and black cohosh (bind to estrogen receptors like estrogen and reduces the quantity of estrogen taken up by); licorice tea (stimulates adrenals), angelica; sarsaparilla root, blessed thistle and false unicorn root.
Vaginal itching may be helped by mixing angelica and alfalfa (if not already a powder, pulverize in a seed mill or blender) in enough glycerin from the pharmacy, and using topically. Damiana tea is also most helpful to some. Puncture a Vitamin E or Vitamin A capsule and insert it high as a suppository in the vagina each night for dryness of the vagina. The Vitamin A or E suppositories have to be used daily for six weeks to get relief. In six weeks drop back to about once or twice a week. Itching can also be helped by Vitamin E oil rubbed on the vulva.
3. Physical Activity
Exercise: Exercise is not just a healthful thing to do; in menopause it is one of the main treatments women need. We recommend that a woman obtain one to five hours of outdoor exercise or labor daily to stimulate the ovaries and other endocrine glands. Weight bearing exercise is the ideal, as it protects against osteoporosis. Swimming one hour three times per week has been shown to increase bone mineral content.
Several times a day, at least four, raise up from your work, stand tall, hold the elbows at shoulder height, and try to touch the elbows together, both in front and behind. Maintain all day the good position you must achieve with this exercise and it will help you guard against humpback.
A deep breathing exercise will often stop a hot flash in a few seconds. Simply breathe in deeply through the nose and out through the mouth, repeatedly, until the flash stops.
4. Habits of Life
Smoking: Stopping smoking is a treatment for menopause. Smoking itself leads to decrease in estrogen level and increased bone loss at an earlier age (1% per year after the age of 50).
Alcohol: It suppresses the growth of bone, causing osteoporosis, is toxic to the ovaries, and can cause irregular ovulation and menstrual periods.
Coffee: Coffee interferes with many metabolic processes, including those concerned with normalizing the menopausal process. Most damaging is the loss of 1.4% of bone calcium per year after menopause from drinking just one cup of coffee per day.
5. Mental Health
Emotional Aspects: Improving one’s interpersonal relationships not only makes one more at ease, but actually lessens women’s hot flashes. The twelve step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon, and Co-dependents Anonymous are very good for this purpose. Stop by a library and make a copy of the 12-Step Program. Study it carefully.
Diet: Hot drinks, hot meals and hot spices can aggravate hot flashes. So can sugar, alcohol, or other refined carbohydrates. Do not be disappointed if you must go through several months trying to improve hot flashes. Use a vegetarian diet without sugar and often the hot flashes will stop promptly.
The following foods have been found to be high in naturally occurring plant sterols similar in chemical formula to estrogens. Some of these should be eaten daily in liberal quantities if you do not have sensitivities to them.
Apples Cherries Olives
Plums Anise seed Wheat germ
Food yeast Whole grains Garlic
Barley Corn Parsley
Oats Rice Wheat
Sage Coconut Carrots
Peanuts Yams Soy beans
Alfalfa leaf tea Licorice root tea
Foods of the nightshade family (bell pepper, paprika, pimentos, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes)
Eat a low protein diet, as the kidneys excrete large amounts of calcium through the urine to make up for the high level of sulfuric acid from the protein. All clinical nutritionists are now recommending the low protein diet for osteoporosis. The vegetarian cuisine is the most favorable diet.
Low fat, eliminating almost entirely, or even completely, if the weight demands it, all free fats such as margarine, mayonnaise, fried foods, salad oils, cooking fats and most nut butters. This diet is most helpful in menopause, both for the hot flashes and preventing osteoporosis. Low fat Seventh-day Adventist women, who use no animal protein or animal fat whatsoever, do not have evidence of essential fatty acid deficiency, and have a very low rate of osteoporosis.
Some other factors in osteoporosis: If a calcium supplement is taken it may decrease the availability of copper and zinc and may increase cholesterol. Zinc is considered to be as important in bone strength as calcium. Calcium supplement also decreases iron and magnesium retention, increasing risk of iron deficiency anemia and nerve, muscle, and bowel function. Flaxseed, two tablespoons freshly ground, at each meal has benefits in the menopausal years to prevent strokes and high cholesterol. Too much salt causes the kidneys to excrete more calcium in the urine. Caffeine can seriously increase calcium loss. Women should avoid refined phosphates, another benefit of a no animal protein diet, as animal products are generally high in phosphates. Soft drinks and baking powder are high in phosphates.
Vitamin E: One quarter cup of soybeans and 400 iu of vitamin E by mouth can be used for the management of hot flashes.
Boron supplements have been used by some to increase the deposition of calcium in the bones. It also stimulates the production of very tiny amounts of estrogen, even in women who have gone through the menopause or who have had a hysterectomy. Although the estrogen production is in small amounts, it may be sufficient to avoid the most severe symptoms of menopause. Take 3 milligrams per day.
7. Water Treatments
A cool or tepid shower every morning (about 95 degrees water temperature) slows down hot flashes. Hydrotherapy is useful in osteoporosis to improve absorption and assimilation of nutrients: Hot compresses to the abdomen for 20 minutes four to five times a week or hot sitz baths for 20 minutes five times a week for three to four weeks to stimulate the ovaries. For itching around the vagina, use the perineal pour each time the bathroom is used: mix one to four tablespoons of vinegar in one quart of hot or cold water and pour slowly through the low part of the pubic hair and encourage with the fingers to touch all parts of the vulva by opening all the folds. Allow to dry. Do not remove the vinegar water. Vinegar makes the most favorable acid condition for the vulva.
An attempt should be made to avoid irritation of all mucous membranes, including nasal, as these surfaces become quite thin following the menopause. When the vaginal opening is cleansed, the hands should be first washed and then the hands used to thoroughly wash the area. Then more plain, clear water is used to meticulously rinse the area, being gentle and using no abrasive cloths. Drying of the nonhairy portions is done by blotting rather than rubbing. Douching is to be discouraged, as the internal surfaces are washed free of the lubricating covering of shed cells. Never use soaps on the genital area.
The clothing should be checked carefully for healthfulness. Girdles are taboo. There must be no band tight enough that it leaves a red mark on the skin. Perhaps the most important, yet most difficult to attain, is warm clothing for the extremities. Even though there is no sense of chilliness in cold weather, the extremities should be adequately clothed. The blood loses much latent heat from a bare skin area. Experimentally there is alteration of the blood flow in the pelvic organs if only one hand is chilled for over five minutes.
9. Why Not Use Hormones
To give estrogen treatment in menopause treats menopause as a disease, not a normal physiologic process. That there are symptoms associated with it in a certain percentage of people should bring us to search for physiologic and natural remedies, rather than pharmacologic.
If a woman takes estrogen for five years, she increases her risk of getting cancer of the breast measurably, and if she takes it for 15 years, the risk of breast cancer increases by 35%. (Ref. Center for Disease Control, 1992) Taking progesterone also increases her risk of getting cancer of the breast, (Ref. Dr. John McDougall) and also of getting gallstones, hypertension, and intravascular blood clotting. (Ref. Annals of Internal Medicine, May 1, 1992).
The majority of this content is taken from Dr. Agatha Thrash of Uchee Pines Institute, printed with permission by Wildwood Inn Health Retreat.