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Herbal Approaches to Menopause

The end of menstruation and the onset of menopause is a change every woman faces at some point in her life; however, symptoms and experiences are different from one woman to another. Menopause occurs when the ovaries stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. While fertility ends when women enter menopause, they can still enjoy an active, healthy, vital, and sexual lifestyle. 

Menopause can cause a range of symptoms including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, night sweats, trouble sleeping, mood changes, thinning hair, dry skin, weight gain, increased dreams, dizziness, and irritability. These symptoms can be decreased with a healthy diet, exercise, and nutritional supplements that focus on depleted nutrients. 

A healthy diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables, iron-rich foods, and foods high in fiber and calcium is a great start to combating menopause symptoms. Increasing activity (at least 30 minutes per day) and drinking plenty of water are also important. In addition, supplements such as vitamin B12 and B6, calcium, magnesium, and iron can be taken to fill nutritional gaps and support normal bone function. 

Did you know hormone changes during menopause can also cause skin issues? You may feel like you are once again an acne prone teenager, but really it is increased testosterone and stress hormones that are causing sudden acne breakouts. In addition to acne, menopause can cause fine lines, wrinkles, and dry skin. Skin can begin to sag due to loss of collagen and lack that certain glow you had before. Exercise, anti-oxidants, sunscreen, moisturizer, and adequate water intake can help skin health during menopause. 

In traditional Chinese medicine, menopause is associated with the kidney, the organ responsible for growth, maturation, and aging. Kidney yin deficiency is often the cause of menopausal symptoms and should be addressed during menopause. Chinese herbal formulas such as Eight Flavor Rehmannia can be beneficial for kidney yin deficiencies. Herbal formulas, diet, exercise, and acupuncture are also recommended in TCM. A diet high in vegetables and fruits and avoiding red meats, alcohol, sugar, spicy foods, and caffeine can help to subdue menopause symptoms.