Helping to keep the misery of menopause at bay
Hot flushes, night sweats, low mood, thinning hair and headaches are all common symptoms of the menopause. But it doesn’t need to make life a misery. Here Laura Williamson, of Castletown Health Store, offers some useful tips on how to keep the symptoms in check
AS you mop your brow following no doubt another interrupted night’s sleep, I’m sure it will come as little consolation to learn that many cultures believe the menopause should be celebrated as a new era in a woman’s life.
It generally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 but it can occur as early as 35 or as late as 65 years of age.
For most women there are three phases: peri-menopause, where you still have periods but they may be heavier or lighter than usual and you may start to experience hot flushes; menopause, when ovarian function declines, oestrogen levels drop off and periods stop; and post-menopause, which begins 12 months after your last period.
Throughout all three phases fluctuating hormone levels can leave you with a whole array of unpleasant symptoms to contend with, including hot flushes, night sweats, low mood, thinning hair, headaches, tiredness and loss of libido. And symptoms are unfortunately very common: in the West approximately 75 per cent of women are affected.
So, not exactly cause to crack open the Bollinger.
Thankfully, however, there are a number of remedies that can help.
Right at the top of this list is sage. One of our oldest medicinal plants, it appears to have a rebalancing effect on the hypothalamus, an area of the brain responsible for sweat regulation, amongst other things.
When you go through the menopause the ovaries produce less of the hormone oestrogen and this drop in oestrogen causes the hypothalamus to work extra hard on maintaining hormone levels, upsetting its sweat regulating function. This causes sudden surges in temperature and the uncomfortable ‘hot flush’ you’re experiencing.
Sage helps to correct sweat regulation and diminish hot flushes.
Fresh sage tincture diluted in a little water three times daily can really help, or try A. Vogel’s Menoforce Sage tablets.
Women taking Tamoxifen should consult their GP before taking sage.
Isoflavones can also help. Oestrogen-like plant hormones or ‘phytoestrogens’, isoflavones help to reduce hot flushes by providing an additional hormone boost when oestrogen levels are low.
Popular food sources include soya and soy foods such as natto, tempeh and miso – indeed, in Japan, where soya is a dietary staple, less than 25 per cent of menopausal women are reported to suffer with hot flushes.
In fact, steering clear of what might be considered a typical Western diet of white flour, such as bread, pasta and rice, full-fat dairy, fatty meats and caffeine is often recommended.
Increase your intake of organic fruit and veg as these will not contain potentially harmful pesticides.
Essential fats (EFAs) can also help with many menopause symptoms, including thinning hair, nails and skin.
The main contenders are omega 3, found in flax seed oil, omega 6, found in hemp and omega 9, which is naturally present in pumpkin seeds.
If irritability is a problem try vitamin B12, available naturally in oily fish, eggs and meat or as part of a B-complex supplement.
B-complex will almost certainly provide vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid, which can help to support adrenal function, and folic acid (B9), which is very important during the menopause as it helps to protect bones.
Osteoporosis or brittle bones is caused by low oestrogen levels and is most common in women who have been through the menopause.
Vitamins C and K are crucial for healthy bones, as is calcium.
Most of us know that dairy products such as yoghurt, skimmed milk and cheese are a good source of calcium, but some people have difficulty in digesting these foods.
Spinach, broccoli, beans, peas, sardines and pilchards are also excellent calcium providers.
In addition to four servings of calcium-rich foods a day, increase your intake of vitamin D (found in oily fish, liver and eggs), which is essential for the absorption of dietary calcium.
Finally, if flushes and night sweats are starting to affect your sleep, a little Valerian tincture taken half an hour before bedtime should help you to drift off.
For further advice and a free fan to help with the most militant of flushes, speak to Laura Williamson and her team at Castletown Health and Beauty Store in Malew Street. Call 825812.
MENOPAUSE FACT FILE
l Around 75 per cent of women in the West suffer hot flushes, night sweats
and other symptoms during the menopause.
l Sage, one of our oldest medicinal plants, is one of the most widely used
remedies to help correct sweat regulation and diminish hot flushes.
l Oestrogen-like plant hormones called ‘phytoestrogens’, found predominantly in soya and soy foods, can also help. Only 25 per cent of menopausal women in Japan, where soya is a dietary staple, are reported to suffer with
l Osteoporosis is more common during and after the menopause. In addition to calcium, vitamins C, D and K, high impact exercise, such as jogging,
power walking and step aerobics, can help to keep bones healthy. Regular
bone density scans are also recommended.
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