Make sure this powerful transitional stage is a smooth ride with these smart holistic tips and techniques
Going through the menopause can be tricky to say the least, especially when your hormones are raging all over the shop, but seeing it as part of your journey as a woman can help you to embrace those challenges.
“Menopause is a natural stage, moving a woman away from the child-bearing years into a stage that, according to ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine perspectives, is characterised by ‘soul development’,” explains top nutritionist Henrietta Norton (wildnutrition.com).
However, symptoms such as night sweats, insomnia, anxiety and palpitations are no joke, and they can be exacerbated if you are stressed or run-down. For this reason alone, it’s essential to support your body from the very start of this powerful process.
“It’s vitally important to remember that this is not a disease, it is a natural progression to a different stage of a woman’s life cycle and that it’s a mind, body and spirit experience,” says Henrietta. “Supporting your nutritional and emotional wellbeing during this process can provide the perfect environment for this ebb and flow to be experienced as a positive transition.” Here are just a few ways to embrace your journey:
“Include a range of pulses and beans in your diet, as well as a good variety of vegetables, both of which are sources of natural phytoestrogens (plant compounds that can mimic oestrogen),” says Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist for Nature’s Best (naturesbest.co.uk). “Soya is a wellknown source of phytoestrogens, but a balanced intake of soya from whole bean sources, combined with other beans and pulses, is a better approach than focusing solely on soya. Cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale can also support balanced hormone levels.”
A DIY aromatherapy massage is a great way to bring about hormonal balance, says Jo Kellet, of Tisserand Aromatherapy (tisserand.com). Just add three drops of geranium, three drops of clary sage, and four drops of cypress to 20ml of blending oil and massage over your abdomen and lower back every other night. “Geranium is a tonic for the adrenal cortex, which regulates the release of hormones, helping to maintain hormonal balance while, clary sage helps balance oestrogen levels and cypress regulates testosterone,” says Jo.
Going through the menopause can give your confidence a bit of a bashing, but research shows that visualisation and other mind techniques can help. “The human mind is a powerful tool that can bring about real chemical and physical changes in the brain and the body,” says cognitive hypnotherapist and menopause coach Pat Duckworth (patduckworth.com).
She recommends the following exercise:
1. Stand in front of the mirror. Close your eyes. Think of someone who loves you and whose opinion you trust and respect. Imagine them standing next to you.
2. Imagine stepping into the body of that person, so that you can see through their eyes. Open your eyes, looking at your reflection through the eyes of the person who loves you. See what they see, all the details about you that they love and appreciate. Feel the love and good feelings they have as they look at you. Hear what they would say to you.
3. Now step back into your own body, looking through your own eyes, enjoying knowing that you are loved for who you are. Send yourself love and approval.
Stress can have a massive effect on your experience so set aside regular time to do what makes you feel good about yourself. Try regular exercise such as running, swimming or brisk walking or mind-body practises such as yoga, mindfulness and meditation. Most importantly, don’t feel bad about spending time on yourself – a little bit of me-time is the best medicine out there!
Some symptoms of menopause can be embarrassing or awkward to discuss, but can be alleviated with natural remedies. For example, many women experience vaginal dryness, which can result in daily soreness and itching, not to mention problems with intercourse. Feminesse moisturisers are designed to give three day’s worth of relief with each application – try the 33g tube (£9.99), which comes with a reusable applicator and contains one month’s supply of paraben and hormone-free lubrication (feminesse. co.uk). The Feminesse Moisturiser 6s contains six single use applicators for two week’s supply, and is a great option for travelling.
Natural progesterone cream can work wonders with menopausal symptoms, helping to improve skin appearance, reverse osteoporosis, reduce mood swings and improve sleep. Remember though, this should only be used under medical supervision so always check with your doctor first.
Decent shut-eye is crucial, according to women’s health expert Dr Dawn Harper. “As we reach the menopause our metabolic rate can slow. A lack of sleep doesn’t help, as it reduces levels of the ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin so long-term sleep deprivation can mean you start to pile on the pounds.” The next time you feel like having a lie-in, do just that – and remind yourself that it’s purely for medicinal purposes!
Remember that environmental oestrogens that may act as harmful hormone disruptors. To minimise these, don’t cook or heat foods in plastic – use glass or crockery instead. Use pots or frying pans made of steel or non-toxic cookware. Cut back on chemical-based cosmetics and household cleaning products.
Supporting your body with a healthy, nutrient-dense diet is essential. You should aim to be eating most of the following foods (organic if possible) on a daily basis:
• Green leafy and root vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale and sweet potato a day
• Colourful fruits such as apples, pears, plums and berries
• Oily fish such as wild Alaskan salmon and sardines (but not farmed salmon or tuna, which contain too much mercury)
• Whole grains such as organic oats, brown rice, whole rye, buckwheat and quinoa
• Beans and pulses such as black soya, aduki, kidney, pinto, navy, yellow soya, black eye peas, chickpeas or lentils
• Raw garlic
• Fermented foods such a miso, shoyu, umeboshi vinegar, brown rice vinegar, sauerkraut, gherkins, natto, tempeh and umeboshi plums
• Salad or vegetable-based soup
• Milk and/or organic natural live yoghurt
• Nuts such as walnuts, almonds and Brazil
• Ground seeds, such as sunflower, flax, sesame and hemp
• Cold-pressed flax, hempseed, coconut or extra-virgin olive oil
There are loads of natural supplements that can help to combat menopausal symptoms. Here are just a few:
• Black cohosh reduces symptoms such as night sweats
• Red clover is rich in plant oestrogens
• Vitamin D and calcium prevent bone density loss
• Wild yam contains natural compounds similar to oestrogen and progesterone
• St. John’s wort balances mood swings
• DHEA supplements help to boost low libido
• Dong quai is a Chinese herb used to combat hot flushes
• Sage is a great remedy for hot flushes. We love A Vogel’s
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