Homeopathy & the Menopause by Kathryn (CCH Graduate)

The menopause is marked by the complete ending of menstruation and is a natural part of aging in women.  This is preceded by perimenopause – the phase where your body gradually starts to produce less  oestrogen and progesterone.  These natural hormonal changes cause the body to gradually cease ovulation, and in turn menstruation.  The rate at which this happens is unique to each woman, as everyone is different, and changes can occur at different times and for different lengths of time.  Some women may experience perimenopause for a year or two, and others for as many as 10 or 12.

The first sign that you are beginning perimenopause is usually irregular periods.  You may miss one, have them more frequently, or have periods of regular menses followed by irregularity.  During the final one or two years of perimenopause, oestrogen levels drop at a faster rate, and this usually brings about the menopause.  Typically, this occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years, when a womans oestrogen levels begin to decline, although it is not uncommon for women to begin menopause before 40.

The important thing to remember, is that menopause is totally…………

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Why do I feel so different?

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Well, aside from the huge part these hormones play in the reproductive system, they also play a huge part in your feelings of general wellbeing.

As well as many other things, oestrogen stimulates serotonin and beta-endorphins which are associated with positive mood states.

It makes sense that as the hormone levels fluctuate, many women feel the affect strongly, and can feel depressed, anxious and experience mood swings.

In addition to this, a new chapter of life is beginning, and the society we live in is youth idolizing, viewing menopause as a disease and an ending  – this distorted and saddening view can bring with it cultural fears, anxieties and resistance.

In some cultures, the menopause is viewed as a transformative and elevating experience, bringing with it a sense of freedom and respect within the community.

There has been much research completed that shows menopausal symptoms vary depending on social location and culture.  Interestingly, a study completed in India on 483 women found that the majority complained of no menopausal symptoms other than menstrual changes.

We know that how we feel emotionally can influence how we feel physically, and it makes sense that many women in western society may experience considerably more menopausal symptoms.

The following symptoms are common in western society:

  •  Depression, anxiety, mood swings.
  • Memory lapses / poor concentration.
  • Night sweats
  • Hot flushes
  • Sleep problems
  • Hair thinning
  • Vaginal dryness and pain/discomfort
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Thinning and weakening of bones
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections

Conventional Treatment Options

 Anti-depressants:
Many doctors will offer women anti-depressants for the menopause. This is an attempt to manage mood, however, this does nothing for the other affects of menopause, and most menopausal depression is as a result of low oestrogen levels.  Anti-depressants cannot increase the levels of oestrogen, and effects will only be felt as long as the medication is being taken.  Many anti-depressants can cause unpleasant side effects the same as the menopausal symptoms the patient is already experiencing:

Nausea, increased appetite and weight gain, loss of sexual desire, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, agitation, irritability, anxiety.

Hormone Replacement therapy:
This is the most widely prescribed treatment by the allopathic medical world, however, it is still considered controversial due to the serious health risks and side effects.

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HRT is a system of manufactured hormones being taken in a bid to replace the bodys natural production, and subsequently relieve symptoms associated with the natural reduction.

There is oestrogen only HRT or combined HRT, and it is recognised that oestrogen only can increase the risks of developing cancer of the womb.  This is why combined progesterone and oestrogen therapy is available.

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Before making any decision regarding treatment it is important that you ensure your decision is informed.

Some common side effects of HRT include:
Bloating, breast tenderness or swelling, general swelling of other areas, cramping. nausea, vaginal bleeding, headaches, indigestion, migraine, mood swings, depression, acne, abdominal pains, back pain.  As you can see, some of the symptoms HRT is prescribed for, are actually created by the medication.

There are also some more serious side effects such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancers
  • Type 2 diabetes,
  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle strength loss
  • Dementia.

Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a safe, complete system of medicine that can be very effective in the treatment of hormonal symptoms. Homeopathy works by promoting the body and the minds own healing capacity, and sees symptoms as interconnected, working towards improving the overall health of the patient.

When it comes to menopause, as well as taking into account the exact menopausal symptoms you are experiencing, the homeopath will  look at you as a whole, and base the treatment on your whole picture.

For information, here are some interesting examples of some homeopathic remedies that can be indicated during menopause:

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Calcarea Carbonica
This homeopathic remedy is prepared from the pure white portions of shell between the interior and exterior surfaces of the oyster shell.

Some of the many indications for this remedy during menopause would be:

  • Hot flushes moving upwards
  • Hot sweats and perspiration on face and hands
  • Palpitations, chills.
  • Flooding during menses
  • Vaginal bleeding during and after menopause
  • Backache, joint pain, weakness
  • Swelling of joints / fingers, osteoporosis, arthritic lumps.
  • Yeast infections, cervical erosion, varicose veins.
  • Anxiety.
  • Symptoms are likely to be worse before menses and during menopause they may be fatigued and cold with little apparent reason.

In addition to the above symptoms, someone who may benefit from Calc  Carb may be quite anxious,  and could be particularly worried about her health, and also of her family and feel a great deal of responsibility and duty. There could be memory difficulties, confusion, irritability and weepiness. Physically they could be prone to constipation (which they may actually enjoy or feel better for), weight gain, be quite chilly for no apparent reason, and be quite weak.

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Lachesis
This homeopathic remedy is prepared from the venom of a South American snake known as the bushmaster, or Surukuku snake.

Some of the many indications for this remedy during menopause would be:

  • Sudden hot flushes with clamminess in the day
  • Hot flushes in the face, red face,
  • Heat and burning in the top of the head
  • Flooding during menses (thick, black, offensive blood)
  • Migraines
  • High blood pressure, palpitations, sensation that heart is too large, dizziness
  • Fibroids, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea
  • Heavy bleeding – nose bleeds, vaginal bleeding, haemorrhage.
  • Perspiration of genitals
  • Convulsions, weakness, vertigo, tinnitus
  • Feeling of constriction – for example, sensations that clothing is too tight, that nothing can be worn around the neck.
  • Generally symptoms will feel much worse upon waking after sleep (many people needing lachesis may say they went to bed fine and got up feeling terrible),and also for any suppression whether it be emotional, mental or physical, as well as just before menses.  As soon as the flow begins, symptoms can improve.
  • They may also feel better when they eat and swallowing food.
  • This is also a great remedy to consider if HRT has been started and there has been an adverse reaction.
  • A person needing this remedy could be quite suspicious and jealous, and have quite a high sex drive.  They are likely to be very talkative and can become over-excited quite easily.
    Physically, they could be very tired and faint and could just generally not feel, or have been well at all since the hormonal changes began.

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Sepia
This homeopathic remedy is prepared by using the ink squirted by the cuttlefish. Interesting, unlike most other molluscs, cuttlefish have their shell inside their soft, gelatinous bodies.  They squirt ink when they need to escape a situation, as this provides fast camouflage and a distraction to their predator, meaning they can make a fast escape.

This remedy has a marked affinity with the female sex organs.

Some of the many indications for this remedy during menopause would be:

  • Complete loss of sex drive, sensitivity and irritability of female organs, pain during sexual intercourse (vaginal, uterine, ovarian)
  • Vaginal discharge, vaginal dryness, yeast infections,
  • Hot flushes moving upwards with profuse perspiration
  • Weakness after a hot flush
  • Profuse perspiration of genitals
  • Weight gain, but appetite can increase or decrease
  • Fainting, weakness, palpitation
  • Flooding during menses with periods often arriving early.
  • Anxiety- when flushing, when hot, evening,
  • Hysteria, depressions, emotionally unstable
  • Irritability, over-sensitive, confusion, memory loss
  • Prolapse
  • Sensations would include a dragging down, bearing down feeling, with some women feeling that if they do not cross their legs, their insides will fall out.
  • This is again another remedy that could be considered for ailments from hormonal therapy.
  • Physically they may be worn out, faint, prone to constipation and cystitis, and generally exhausted.
  • They will feel much better for vigorous exercise, dancing, napping, crossing their legs, walking fast.
  • Someone needing this remedy may have a ‘heaviness’ about them, and may seem quite weary of their life, not seeming to get joy from things they used to.  They may say they are indifferent to loved ones (especially husbands), and may talk of ‘escaping’ their usual lives.

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Pulsatilla
This homeopathic remedy is prepared by gathering up the whole plant whilst flowering, and chopping and pounding it to a pulp.  It is then mixed with alcohol and strained.

Some of the many indications for this remedy during menopause would be:

  • Hot flushes (especially of the face), and the rest of the body can feel quite chilly at the same time.
  • Hot sweats during the night and from heat.
  • Vaginal bleeding, nose bleeds, varicose veins, skin bruises easily.
  • Rheumatism, particularly of the hips, osteoporosis.
    Incontinence, constipation.Insomnia, palpitations, headaches, migraine (left sided), tinnitus.
  • Weight gain, fluid retention.
  • Changeability of symptom
  •  Interestingly, although this person may be very sweaty, and may even have a dry mouth, there may be little or no thirst.
  • Generally the person will prefer to be outdoors, or to constantly have a window open.
  • They may be very weepy, and may say they often feel much better when they have had a good cry.
  • They are eager to please, and may have strong fears or feelings of abandonment, taking great pleasure in being listened to and are quite dependent on others.
  • This is a great remedy to consider where there is a history of hormonal disturbance, for example miscarriage, infertility.

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Folliculinum

This homeopathic remedy is prepared by using the natural hormone secreted by the ovaries called folliculin, or oestrogen. It stimulates the natural production of oestrogen.

Some of the many indications for this remedy during menopause would be: Bloating, swelling and heaviness

  • Dizziness, difficulty breathing, feeling faint
  • Hot flushes, night sweats, general feeling of being hot and bothered.
    Fibroids, hair loss, weight gain
  • Allergies may begin at menopause
  • Cardio-vascular issues – palpitations, irregularities, tachycardia, angina
  • Skin rashes
  • Irregular menstrual cycle and pre menstrual syndrome.
  • Chronic cystitis
  • Yeast infections, with a constant craving for sugars and wheat.
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Constipation alternating with diarrhoea.

In addition to the above, a woman needing this remedy may feel as though she has lost her sense of self and that she is living out someone else’s expectations. These people can also be quite addicted to rescuing others and trying to solve their problems.  They may say they feel like a doormat, and overestimate their own energy, becoming drained and exhausted.

Physically this person may have a history of hormonal issues, and may have had adverse reactions to hormonal therapies. This is a great one to consider where a hysterectomy or other procedure/medication has brought on an early menopause.

There are many other homeopathic remedies that can really help with menopause, and as well as helping with any unpleasant physical symptoms that can be experienced, homeopathy can help tremendously with the actual transition if difficulty is experienced.

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As well as using homeopathy to help, there are many other things women can do to help make things easier.

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Taking foods rich in the essential vitamins and minerals is crucial, as these help to maintain health, wellbeing, and provide immune system support. So many vitamins and minerals play a part in womens health – the following could be classed as ‘menopause superfoods’:

  •  Oily fish (omega 3 fatty acids) – can reduce hot flushes.
  • Soy foods – can help with vaginal dryness, mood swings and hot flushes.  Also contain phytoestrogen and have a positive effect on heart health.
  • Fruit and dark green leafy veg – these contain phytoestrogens
  • Nuts and seeds – can reduce night sweats and hot flushes
  • Beans – phytoestrogens, can improve energy, alleviate fatigue and increase libido.

Some other considerations:

  • Be careful with sugar – too much sugar can alter blood sugar, increase the possibility of yeast infections, and can increase weight gain.
  • Consider that stimulants can create more heat within the body, so can contribute to hot flushes.  They also have an impact on mood.
  • Reducing animal fats can be beneficial.
  • It is important to ensure a good calcium uptake due to the possibility of osteoporosis, and many non dairy products (plant milks, soy cheeses etc)  are fortified with as much calcium as dairy products.
  • Salt – consider your consumption as too much can effect blood pressure and water retention.
  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water to ensure you are hydrated and to help maintain balance within the body.

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Staying active/exercising

If you can remain active during menopause it can help with so many different health aspects.

As well as helping the digestion, weight control, heart health, joint and muscle pain, it plays a huge part in your general feelings of wellbeing and your mood.

Aerobic exercise is recommended such as brisk walking, dancing, swimming, running, tennis to encourage cardiovascular health.

Many women find yoga and tai chi extremely beneficial, as these methods of exercise really help to calm the mind as well as strengthening, toning and assisting in a balanced flow of energy.

And finally, self knowledge and self confidence can be the true gifts of menopause. Embrace them, and live.

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