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ArticlesManage Menopause Syndrome with TCM Treatments
Manage Menopause Syndrome with TCM Treatments
Many women suffer from menopause syndrome at around 45 – 55 years old, experiencing symptoms like bodily pains and aches, hot flashes, weight gain, dry skin and more. Learn how TCM treatments can help women ease through this phase in life.
Symptoms of Menopause
For many women, when they are 45 to 55 years old, as part of her natural aging process, they may experience Menopause Syndrome (MPS). Menopause can be a challenging milestone in women’s health as women might experience symptoms like menstrual irregularities, bodily pains and aches, hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, insomnia, weight gain, brain fog, forgetfulness, urinary incontinence, loss of libido, vaginal dryness, lack of energy, loss of breast fullness, dry skin, eyes, or mouth, hair loss and loose teeth and more.
Many women suffer silently from the symptoms but with proper management of menopause syndrome, women can ease through this phase in life.
Learn more about the causes, symptoms and TCM treatments available for women to ease through menopause below.
Causes of Menopause Syndrome
The main causes of menopause syndrome are naturally declining reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone which are produced in the ovaries. The functions of estrogen are to regulate the menstrual cycle, ovulation and as well as to facilitate calcium metabolism, prevent osteoporosis and maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels, hence lowering the risk of heart disease. Progesterone plays a role in helping with the implantation of a fertilized egg, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, regulating blood pressure and boosting mood and sleep.
Hence, with lower levels of these sex hormones, women experience changes in their bodies.
From a TCM point of view, the reason for menopause syndrome is quite similar to the modern medicine theory to a certain extent. In one famous ancient Chinese book – Huang Di Nei Jing, it was described clearly that when women reach around 7X7=49 years, 天癸 Tian Gui, the crucial substances to support the reproductive system—referred to as female reproductive hormones, will be exhausted.
The ultimate reason is Kidney deficiency as the Kidney is the most important organ to govern the reproductive system. During Menopause, there will be a lack of energy and blood in the Ren and Chong Meridians which provide all the nutrients for reproductive organs.
This means that menstruation will stop, women will stop being fertile and aging will be more pronounced and will happen at a faster rate. This would result in falling teeth and hair. Simply put, Menopause Syndrome is caused by gradual depletion of Kidney-Qi, the emptiness of the Ren and Chong channels, gradual exhaustion of Tian Gui, breakdown of Yin-Yang equilibrium, disorders of Zang-Fu, Qi and blood deficiency. Since the Kidney is the principal organ responsible for Menopausal Syndrome, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chinese herbs used in the treatment are aimed at enhancing the Kidney function and rebalancing Yin and Yang energy.
Treatment of Menopause Syndromein Western Medicine
In Western medicine, gynaecologists normally use Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to treat Menopause Syndrome. Medication is prescribed to boost hormone levels (like estrogen and progesterone) and to relieve some of the symptoms of menopause. However, there are side effects to HRT. Some symptoms are mild, like water retention and migraine. Some can be severe. Research has reported that there could be risks with HRT, such as increasing the risk of endometrial cancer, breast cancer, an increased risk of blood clots and stroke, increased chance of gallbladder stones and dementia in the long run.
TCM Treatments for Menopause Syndrome
In TCM treatment for Menopause Syndrome, we use traditional Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture—natural ways to balance Yin and Yang, tonify organs, and relieve symptoms without unpleasant side effects. Traditional Chinese medicine has a regulating effect on the nervous system, immune system and endocrine system and is able to help regulate hormones like FSH, LH, and E2.
TCM medicine prescribed is based on syndrome differentiation, and is personalised to each patient’s needs. Clinically there are 2 main types of constitutions. One is the Kidney Yin deficiency, and another is the Kidney Yang deficiency. These 2 types are classified according to the morbidity development.
Type of Kidney Yin Deficiency: At first, it starts from the Kidney Yin Deficiency with all the common symptoms, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and mood swings. Herbal medicine which possesses properties of tonifying Kidney Yin and/or clearing deficient heat can be used, such as Shu di, Sheng Di, Xuan Shen, Wu Wei Zi, Gui Ban, Dang Gui, Mai Dong, Sha Shen etc.
Type of Kidney Yang Deficiency: Yin Deficiency eventually results in 2nd type of Yang deficiency, and here, the patient may experience cold extremities, fatigue, and lower back pain with a feeling of coldness. Then the herbs used can supplement Kidney Yang and warm the inner organs. For example Tu Si Zi, Ling Yang Huo, Lu Jiao Jiao, Du Zhong etc.
Acupuncture as TCM Treatment for Menopause Syndrome
Acupoints needling or acupuncture can be used to tonify the Kidney, Spleen, Qi and Blood, tranquilise the Heart, clear heat and phlegm, and remove blockages of Qi stagnancy and blood stasis. Select the following acupoints like Bai Hui, Si Shen Chong, Shen Ting, Tou Ling Qi, Dan Zhong, Nei Guan, Shen Men, Qu Chi, Qi Hai, Guan Yuan, Zhong Ji, Xue Hai, Zu San Li, San Yin Jiao, Feng Long, Tai Xi, Tai Chong etc.
Besides the above treatment methods, Moxibustion can be employed for 2nd type of Menopause Syndrome patients.
Tips to Manage Menopause Symptoms
Adopt a healthy and nutritious diet: Take a wide variety of food. Avoid deep-fried food, oily or salty food as well as cold food. Herbal soups or porridges like San Yao meat porridge, and turtle soup are good for warming the body.
Get enough sleep and rest: Avoid sleeping late as it will exhaust Yin and Qi, and ignite the fire of the heart. Stop eating or drinking 3 hours before sleep. Soaking feet in herbal warm water helps one to fall asleep easily.
Engage in Regular Exercise: Regular exercise helps with calcium absorption and the prevention of osteoporosis. It also increases blood circulation to the organs as well as the secretion of hormones to reduce stress levels.
Manage Your Mood Swings: Cultivating a wide range of interests like singing, playing instruments or picking up a new hobby can calm one’s nerves. Meditation also helps with mental health.
Build a Social Support System: Having social interaction with friends and a community can provide good physical and mental support to one in need.
Menopause is a natural process experienced by women due to aging, and although it can bring about symptoms that cause discomfort or changes to women’s health, women do not have to suffer. Be aware of the symptoms and seek a consultation with a TCM physician to learn how to ease through this phase in life.