We all know that menopause is a stage that all women go through. Many women are troubled by symptoms such as irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, and joint pain. In the past, Western doctors often prescribe supplemental female hormones, but later research found that it could increase the risk of breast cancer. So, most people are cautious and simply endure these symptoms all by themselves. However, if you know about traditional Chinese medicine, you don't have to suffer such pain.
Let's dive into some common issues and discuss the natural solutions:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
Hot flashes occur during the day, and the most distressing part is the severe night sweats, where patients wake up with their clothes soaked in sweat, leading to insomnia. In traditional Chinese medicine, this is often referred to as "Yin deficiency and internal heat." It is usually treated with herbal formulas that nourish Yin and clear heat, along with some herbs that help resolve phlegm and dampness.
- Gradual cessation of menstruation or irregular bleeding
In normal circumstances, menstruation gradually ceases, and the cycle becomes 2-3 months then even longer. However, in some cases, there might be excessive bleeding that causes distress. Three common patterns are: the cycle shortens to 2-3 weeks, menstrual flow is scanty and referred to as "leaking," or there is excessive bleeding known as "flooding." These issues can cause blood deficiency, which affects the overall body functions. Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on nourishing the blood, and severe cases are treated for about 3 months, gradually transitioning to maintenance with dietary support. Dong Quai is an herb commonly used to nourish the blood and regulate menstruation, especially when combined with other warming herbs for individuals with cold constitutions. For people who are avert to cold, a classic nourishing and therapeutic recipe is the "Angelica Lamb Soup with Ginger". For most people who do not have a cold constitution, consuming beef is beneficial.
- Weight and body fat increase
Many women feel that they easily gain weight after menopause, which is indeed related to estrogen levels. When estrogen levels are high during youth, it promotes the accumulation of subcutaneous fat, which is seen as a symbol of femininity. However, after menopause, women tend to gain weight around the belly and visceral area, which is detrimental to their health. To counter this, a recommended approach is to adopt a modified Mediterranean plus Asian diet to boost metabolism, known as the "Tian Dao diet."
This healthy daily routine is as follows: sleep at 11 PM and wake up at 6 AM, practice 10 minutes of QiGong, have a hearty breakfast at 7 AM, start the day with work load. For lunch (12-1 PM), have a balanced meal of light protein and vegetables, take a 20-minute walk after eating, and avoid napping. Dinner (6-7 PM) should consist of purely vegetarian dishes, including vegetables, soup, and rice. Having at least 4 hours between dinner and sleep allows the digestive system to rest and won't disturb sleep.
A typical breakfast recipe could be grilled steak with broccoli, tomatoes, and zucchini, along with a small bowl of wild rice. For lunch, you can have two boiled eggs, or salmon with veggies. For dinner, you can choose from various vegetables like radish, seaweed, winter melon, pumpkin, celery, lettuce, and bean sprouts, etc.
Acupuncture for weight loss is a common and side-effect-free method that can accelerate metabolism and reduce hunger. One popular procedure in China is abdomen threads under-skin. This method involves daily stimulation, which is more intensive than weekly acupuncture sessions, but it's not yet common in the United States.
- Dryness and skin conditions
Pre and post-menopause, women may experience symptoms such as vaginal dryness, dry mouth, dry eyes, and dry skin. These are all signs of "Yin deficiency" according to traditional Chinese medicine. Additionally, hormonal fluctuations can lead to fungal vaginitis, which may improve with antibiotics but often recurs. For long-term health, a combination of Chinese herbal medicine and dietary therapy is recommended. Medications will focus on nourishing Yin and supplementing the liver and kidneys. Women with light symptoms can use food-based remedies, for example, lotus seeds, lily bulb, and Tremella soup, or the classic "Four Graces Soup," consisting of white-colored ingredients like Poria, Chinese yam, lotus seeds, and Euryale seeds (or coix seeds).
For treating skin discoloration due to aging, additional herbs may be used, such as white peony root, Angelica, peach kernel, and safflower.
For women about to approach menopause in their 40s, there are two main methods for anti-aging and skincare: one is Chinese herbal supplements taken in small quantities daily for a few months each year, and the other is acupuncture beauty treatment. Acupuncture can help reduce wrinkles on the face and neck, as well as regulate the flow of Qi and blood throughout the body. The combination of these two approaches can make women look 5-10 years younger compared to their peers.