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Menopause is a natural and normal part of a woman’s life cycle, but it can significantly impact her physical and emotional well-being. The symptoms that show up at this time of life can be frustrating and emotionally draining, and if you talk to older women who have gone through it, you’ll often hear tales of woe. Symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and bone loss are common, but are they really normal symptoms of menopause? We think differently! 

What is Menopause?

Menopause is the natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. It typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, with the average age of onset at around 51 years. Menopause is the absence of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months. [1] 

During menopause, a woman’s ovaries gradually stop producing eggs, and the production of reproductive hormones, specifically estrogens and progesterone, declines. These hormonal changes can set off a range of physical and emotional symptoms as the body adjusts to the new hormonal balance. 

The period leading up to menopause is known by the medical establishment as perimenopause. Perimenopause can last for several years before menopause itself. During this time, hormone levels fluctuate, leading to irregular menstrual cycles and many symptoms, including hot flashes and decreased libido.  

Once a woman has reached menopause and gone without a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months, she’s considered postmenopausal. In the postmenopausal stage, the symptoms of perimenopause may begin to subside, although some women may continue to experience symptoms for several years after menopause.  

Symptoms of Menopause

These are common symptoms of a woman approaching menopause (in perimenopause). [2] However, keep in mind that “common does not mean normal”: 

  • Hot flashes (hot flushes) 
  • Chills 
  • Night sweats 
  • Irregular periods 
  • Sleep issues 
  • Mood changes/mood swings 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Bloating 
  • Vaginal dryness 
  • Thinning hair and dry skin 
  • Weight gain 
  • Loss of breast fullness 
  • Bone loss/osteoporosis 

These symptoms may also indicate a woman is dealing with hormonal imbalance and that it’s time to dig deeper to find out what’s causing stress and inflammation in her body.   

How Do You Know You’re Going Through Menopause?

The signs and symptoms mentioned above can give a woman a pretty clear idea she’s begun the transition into menopause. For that reason, tests aren’t needed for a diagnosis. As mentioned, menopause is the absence of periods for 12 consecutive months.  

The Fireman vs. The Carpenter in Healthcare

At The Wellness Way, we talk about the mainstream perspective on healthcare versus our perspective, as the “fireman approach” versus the “carpenter approach.”

Mainstream “fireman” doctors have two tools (treatment options) to take care of people: an axe and a hose. The axe represents cutting things out during a surgical procedure. The hose represents using medications to extinguish the “flames”: inflammation, pain, and other symptoms.

Wellness Way doctors are more like carpenters: They assess the body’s current state with testing and then create a personalized plan to rebuild using nutrients from foods and supplements. Sunshine, rest, and positive relationships are some common natural therapies that support the body in healing.

While these things are considered “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine,” scientific research backs up their effectiveness in supporting the healing process.

Mainstream Medicine’s Approach to Menopause

Mainstream medicine looks at perimenopause and menopause as conditions in need of treatment. That’s why they look to medications for answers. 

Common Medications Given During Menopause

Mainstream treatment options for menopause may involve hormone therapy, medications for controlling symptoms, and drugs to prevent or treat osteoporosis. [3] 

  • Hormone therapy: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) of synthetic estrogen and possibly progesterone is used to reduce hot flashes and prevent bone loss. Keep in mind there are risks of increasing breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.  
  • Vaginal estrogen cream: To reduce the menopausal symptom of vaginal dryness (due to depleted estrogen levels), doctors may prescribe an estrogen cream, tablet, or ring. These treatments release a small amount of estrogen topically into that area to relieve dryness and discomfort. 
  • Repurposed drugs for hot flashes: Low-dose antidepressants (SSRIs), the seizure med Gabapentin (Gralise, Horizant, Neurontin), the hypertension drug Clonidine (Catapres, Kapvay), or Fezolinetant (Veozah) may all be used to reduce hot flashes. 
  • Osteoporosis drugs: Depending on test results, doctors may also prescribe meds to prevent or reduce bone loss. Examples include alendronate (BinostoFosamax), ibandronate (Boniva), raloxifene (Evista), risedronate (Actonel, Atelvia), and zoledronic acid (Reclast, Zometa). 

While medications and hormone replacement may alleviate some uncomfortable symptoms by synthetically manipulating women’s hormones, they all have side effects. The side effects are often why women seek out natural remedies for menopause symptoms.  

What Causes the Symptoms Associated with Menopause? The 3 T’s.

While mainstream medicine acknowledges menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life, they tend to treat it as a disease. What’s really behind the symptoms of menopause? Inflammation — caused by traumas, toxins, and thoughts. 

Traumas (Physical Stressors)

Traumas or physical stressors can be acute or chronic. Chronic subluxations in the spine can inhibit nerve and blood flow to the small intestine, leading to dis-ease and triggering an inflammatory response. An inflamed gut is an inflamed brain. Other traumas that may contribute to a difficult time during menopause include: 

  • Severe illness or infection 
  • Witnessing violence or a natural disaster 
  • Military combat – PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) 
  • Surgery 
  • A death in the family or a close friend  
  • Having a baby – leading to post-partum depression 

Physical traumas and the potential of chiropractic care should not be underestimated. Lowering inflammation by taking stress off the central nervous system can go a long way toward improving a woman’s menopause experience. 

Toxins (Biochemical Stressors)

Toxins are biochemical stressors that may be either natural or synthetic. Toxins associated with challenges during menopause include: 

  • Medications – The body is like a Swiss watch –each system, like a gear, affects all the others. Any medication can alter the gastrointestinal, nervous, or endocrine system, impacting hormonal balance and creating problems over the lead up to menopause. Hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives are particularly disruptive of key vitamins and minerals (like B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, and selenium) that could impact the transition into menopause. 
  • Too much sugar Chronically elevated blood sugar increases inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. [4] 
  • Food allergies – Foods can act like toxins, causing intestinal inflammation and subsequent hormonal imbalance if you’re allergic to them. [5] 
  • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals – Man-made chemicals like PCBs, DDT, Organochlorine pesticides, phthalates, and flame retardants (PBDE) are linked to an earlier (unnatural) transition into menopause. [6] 
  • Toxic metals – Lead and cadmium are toxic metals that can contribute to hormone disruption and menopausal symptoms. [7] 

Traumas and toxins are made worse by negative thought patterns and emotional stress. 

Thoughts (Emotional Stressors)

Emotional stress can significantly contribute to a negative menopause experience. Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can throw off hormones, depleting progesterone and creating a state of estrogen dominance.  Here are some potential emotional contributors to chronic stress, inflammation, and hormonal imbalance, aggravating menopause: 

  • Watching or reading the news (fear/worry) 
  • Emotional stress from marriage, financial, career, or other issues 
  • A state of overwhelm by significant life changes, such as marriage, a new baby, graduation, divorce, or even moving to a new city. 
  • Grief/feelings of loss 
  • Pent up anger 
  • A toxic workplace 
  • Skipping vacations/Not prioritizing self-care 

Thoughts are powerful! Stress and negative thought patterns can cause high cortisol levels, ultimately impacting hormones and the menopausal transition.    

The Wellness Way Approach to Menopause

At The Wellness Way, we dig deeper to solve the health challenges others can’t. We start with testing to see where there may be imbalances and then develop a personalized nutrition and supplement plan to help your body heal itself.   

Important Tests for Assessing Your Gut and Hormonal Health

Here are some commonly recommended tests at The Wellness Way for hormonal imbalance and menopausal support: 

Testing depends on which ones your Wellness Way practitioner considers most important based on your symptoms and health history. 

Dietary Changes for Women Going Through Menopause

No matter what, we must first focus on lowering inflammation so the gut can heal. “All disease begins in the gut!” That means avoiding your food allergies and following a personalized nutrition program, as recommended by your Wellness Way practitioner. These are some additional guidelines for a smooth menopausal transition: 

  • Limit sugar and processed foods – Both increase blood sugar and inflammation. Balancing blood sugar is also essential for hormone balance. 
  • Gluten-free, mostly grain-free – Gluten is known to aggravate the gut lining, contributing to chronic inflammation in the gut and brain. [8] Undiagnosed celiac disease may also lead to early menopause if a woman continues to eat gluten. [9] 
  • No cow’s milk dairy products – Goat and sheep’s milk products may be better tolerated –and even beneficial for lowering inflammation in the gut. [10]  
  • Avoid high omega-6 vegetable oils, like corn, canola, soybean, cottonseed oil, sunflower, grapeseed, and others, which can alter the omega-6 to omega-3 balance to be more inflammatory. [11] Instead, use fruit oils like olive, coconut, avocado, and palm oil; or animal fats like beef tallow, bacon grease, and duck fat. 
  • Avoid alcohol – Alcohol compromises the intestinal lining and increases inflammation. Chronic alcohol use is associated with poor liver function, which ultimately affects how well you break down hormones. It may also increase your risk of developing breast cancer. [12] 
  • Consume an overall low carbohydrate, non-inflammatory diet of organic whole foods, which provide nutrients, antioxidants, and food for a healthy gut microbiome. 
  • Follow a Personalized Nutrition Program, based on your food allergy test results. 
  • Specific nutrient-dense foods: Liver/organ meats, sauerkraut, and microgreens for added nutrition. Liver is nature’s multivitamin, according to Dr. Flynn.  
  • Focus on antioxidants – Including things like turmeric, green tea, berries, dark chocolate, and other botanicals high in polyphenols can help keep inflammation under control. 
  • Omega-3-rich foods – Wild-caught salmon, herring, sardines, walnuts, and ground flaxseeds provide omega-3s and help lower inflammation. [13] 

Sticking to a healthy diet is essential, but supplements can help the body heal the gut and brain. 

Supplements to Support Women Going Through Menopause

Herbal supplements and other dietary supplements can be incredibly supportive in supporting hormonal balance through menopause. They can also improve a woman’s overall sense of well-being and quality of life. While every woman is different, some menopause supplements used at The Wellness Way may include the following:    

  • Licorice – Licorice has anti-androgen (testosterone-lowering) and estrogen-like qualities, which are especially beneficial for supporting declining estrogen in menopause. It may also help decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes. [14][15] 
  • White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora). White peony contains phytoestrogens, plant-based substances that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. These phytoestrogens may help balance hormone levels during menopause, potentially reducing hot flashes and other symptoms. [16] 
  • Chaste Tree – Chaste tree is also known as chaste berry and vitex (from the Latin vitex agnus-castus). Its ability to increase progesterone and balance testosterone levels makes it a helpful herb for women going through menopause. [17][18] 
  • Black Cohosh – Black cohosh may improve hormone regulation during menopause and improve symptoms like hot flashes. [19] 
  • Dong Quai – Dong Quai is a crucial herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for supporting women’s health. Combined with other herbs like astragalus or chamomile, it may help reduce hot flashes, fatigue, or sleep issues. [20][21 
  • Passionflower – Passionflower isn’t just for anxiety and sleep. It may also soothe menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood disorders. [22] 
  • St. John’s Wort – In a clinical trial, St. John’s Wort substantially improved some emotional and physical symptoms associated with menopause. [23] 
  • Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha is a popular treatment for hormonal balance in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. It may reduce menopausal symptoms by lowering cortisol and normalizing sex hormone levels. [24] 
  • Maca – Maca is a cruciferous root vegetable known for its hormone-balancing effects. In a 4-month clinical study, researchers examined the effects of maca supplementation on perimenopausal women (41 to 50). Maca balanced estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones and reduced symptoms like night sweats, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and heart palpitations. [25] 
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Fish oil provides omega-3 fatty acids, which may lower inflammation, support healthy cell membranes, and provide the building blocks for hormone production. They may also lower the incidence of hot flashes. [26] 
  • Evening primrose oil – Evening primrose is an omega-6 oil that may provide menopause support due in part to its gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) content. [27] 
  • Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D supplements may protect bone health as a woman ages by increasing her calcium absorption. [28] 
  • Probiotics – Probiotics like Megabiotic Powder can also support digestive health, increasing the absorption of vital nutrients. 

Every woman is different – herbal remedies that work for one woman may not work for another. Part of that is due to body chemistry, including genetics and allergenic responses, and part is due to differences in the contributing causes of hormonal imbalance. 

Lifestyle Changes & Complementary Therapies for Women Going Through Menopause

Other natural treatments for supporting menopause are lifestyle changes and other therapies that bring balance to the brain and hormones, including the following: 

  • Reduce stress – Stress can aggravate menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. Finding ways to reduce stress can make the transition easier. [29] 
  • Increase physical activity Regular exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of perimenopause and menopause while increasing quality of life. [30] 
  • Get Adequate Sleep Women need more sleep than men! 

Be a well-informed patient! Here are some resources for learning more about menopause. 

Educational Resources for Menopause

Videos & Webinars Related to Menopause and Hormone Balance

Menopause | A Different Perspective | Episode 119
Navigating Menopause & The Hormone Connection | The DPF Show | Episode 47
Bioidentical Hormones & HRT | A Different Perspective |Episode 125
Dr. Jenn Simmons on Mammograms: ADP With Dr. Patrick Flynn
Estrogen Part 1 | A Different Perspective | Episode 132 

Articles to Support Women Going Through Menopause

Is Perimenopause Real?
What Happens During Menopause?
What Do Hormones Have To Do With Weight Loss? Beyond Testosterone and Estrogens
Hidden Hormone Hustler: What’s Stealing Hormonal Balance?  

CONNECT WITH US!

We invite you to connect with us! Find an event at a clinic near you! Follow us on social media. Tune in to A Different Perspective each Saturday morning LIVE to get cutting-edge training directly from Dr. Patrick Flynn. Set up a no-obligation health consult with one of our doctors today. The best is yet to come! Think differently – and THRIVE. Reach out to a Wellness Way clinic today to get thorough testing and start on your health journey. We are here to help!  

References

  1. What Is Menopause? | National Institute on Aging (nih.gov) 
  2. Menopause – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic 
  3. Menopause – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic 
  4. Impact of sugar on the body, brain, and behavior – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  5. Food Allergies: The Basics – PMC (nih.gov) 
  6. Persistent Organic Pollutants and Early Menopause in U.S. Women – PMC (nih.gov) 
  7. Does the environment affect menopause? A review of the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on menopause: Climacteric: Vol 26, No 3 (tandfonline.com) 
  8. Mood disorders and non-celiac gluten sensitivity – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  9. Celiac disease and obstetrical-gynecological contribution – PMC (nih.gov) 
  10. In vitro evaluation of immunomodulatory activities of goat milk Extracellular Vesicles (mEVs) in a model of gut inflammation – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  11. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  12. Alcohol intake and breast cancer in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  13. Omega-3 Fatty Acids And Inflammation – You Are What You Eat! – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  14. Licorice: From Pseudohyperaldosteronism to Therapeutic Uses – PMC (nih.gov) 
  15. Effects of licorice on relief and recurrence of menopausal hot flashes – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  16. Chinese herbal formulae for the treatment of menopausal hot flushes: A systematic review and meta-analysis | PLOS ONE 
  17. The effects of Vitex agnus castus extract and its interaction with dopaminergic system on LH and testosterone in male mice – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  18. Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste-Tree/Berry) in the treatment of menopause-related complaints – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  19. Black cohosh efficacy and safety for menopausal symptoms. The Spanish Menopause Society statement – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  20. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the effect of a Chinese herbal medicine preparation (Dang Gui Buxue Tang) on menopausal symptoms in Hong Kong Chinese women – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  21. The immediate effect of natural plant extract, Angelica sinensis and Matricaria chamomilla (Climex) for the treatment of hot flushes during menopause. A preliminary report – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  22. A comparative study on the effects of Hypericum Perforatum and passion flower on the menopausal symptoms of women referring to Isfahan city health care centers – PMC (nih.gov) 
  23. St. John’s Wort extract: efficacy for menopausal symptoms of psychological origin – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  24. Effect of an ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) root extract on climacteric symptoms in women during perimenopause: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  25. Therapeutic Effects of Pre-Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum Chacon) used as a Non-Hormonal Alternative to HRT in Perimenopausal Women – Clinical Pilot Study – PMC (nih.gov) 
  26. Effects of ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on hot flashes and quality of life among middle-aged women: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  27. Evening Primrose ( Oenothera biennis) Oil in Management of Female Ailments – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  28. Vitamin D, menopause, and aging: quo vadis? – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  29. The relationship between social support, stressful events, and menopause symptoms | PLOS ONE 
  30. Exercise participation, body mass index, and health-related quality of life in women of menopausal age – PubMed (nih.gov) 

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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