Menopause is the point at which a woman stops ovulating and menstruation ceases, indicating the end of fertility. Many years before the menopause, levels of estrogen production slow down. This can start fifteen years before the menopause and is called the ‘circadian’. Apart from being a sex or reproductive hormone, estrogen acts on many organs and systems in the body. Cells in the vagina, bladder, breasts, skin, bones, arteries, heart, liver, and brain all contain estrogen receptors and require this hormone to stimulate these receptors for normal cell function. Estrogen is required to keep the skin healthy and contributes in the bone formation process.
Many women experience few if any symptoms during this time but others may suffer from some or all of the following; anxiety, hot flushes, dry skin, fatigue, feelings of bloating, headaches, heart palpitations, insomnia, irritability, decreased interest in sex, loss of concentration, vaginal dryness and weight gain.
Twenty five per cent of women go through the change without as much as a night sweat so not all menopause experience has the commonly known symptoms so it is possible to just sail through if you are in that lucky quarter.
Supplementation with vitamin E has been known to be effective since 1954 and reports from several authors say vitamin E eradicates most of the menopausal symptoms. Gamma-oryzanol, a nutrient derived from rice bran has been shown to be effective in treating symptoms of menopause. A daily dose of 20 milligrams reduced symptoms by 50% in 67% of the women studied.
When the menstruation stops altogether most of the acute problems a woman will face are over and a new balance between hormones is established. This is the stage when she may be vulnerable to potentially serious health problems such as cardio vascular disease, osteoporosis and vaginal atrophy.
Osteoporosis in particular is a major problem for women with an estimated 80% of all the 250,000 hip fractures that occur in the US being due to osteoporosis.
Many GPs have recommended hormone replacement therapy HRT to control sever symptoms caused by estrogen deficiency in menopausal and post menopausal women. Basically a molecularly similar estrogen is taken by the woman but this estrogen is synthetic and only close to the natural estrogens produced in the body.
Japanese women generally experience far fewer symptoms of menopause than western women. An article in The Lancet reported that the reason may be that Japanese women consume more phytoestrogens or plant estrogens. Plant hormones are very similar in chemical design to human hormones and may provide a safe alternative to the HRT that is being offered to women up to now. These estrogen like compounds are found in foods such as soybeans, tofu, miso, flaxseeds, pomegranates and dates. When these plant estrogens are eaten they act like the estrogens produced in the body. Plant hormones can be used in childbirth to start the contractions of labour!
Half of all postmenopausal women between the ages of forty five and seventy five show signs of some degree of osteoporosis. There is a connection being drawn to the possible cause of such high levels of the condition in these women. Forty per cent of all post menopausal women have a change in their stomach pH balance. In these women their stomachs become alkaline as opposed to being acidic. This cause’s poor absorption of calcium as it needs to be converted from the form we ingest, which is calcium carbonate, through the acidity in our stomachs to calcium citrate. This is the form of calcium the body finds most absorbable.
This may go some way to explaining why there is such and increase of osteoporosis in post menopausal women and perhaps that we should readdress the need for HRT to combat osteoporosis and instead focus on bringing the stomach back to acidity or giving these women calcium carbonate supplements. You can make calcium citrate by crushing up a calcium carbonate and mixing it cider vinegar.
In Chinese medicine menopause is looked at as a period in which the energy of the kidney is declining. For the Chinese doctor the kidney has a corresponding emotion, tissue, sensory organ and element. These are respectively, fear, bone, ear and water. The adrenal glands on the top of the kidney are responsible for producing the hormones that the ovaries used to produce. Chinese herbal medicine is one of the best ways of treating the menopause as the approach is holistic and this appeals to the condition as it very much a mind body spirit imbalance. The herbal formulas that the Chinese doctor will give will replace the estrogens that you are now not producing with plant estrogens. One of the formulas in Chinese medicine acclaimed for its beneficial effects for the menopause is called four things soup.
StarGate Nutrition is really helpful for the menopause as your system changes. Packed with all the vitamins and minerals you need in a safe form, you are guaranteed not just quality but also peace of mind because you are safeguarding your health.
Copyright Ralph Quinlan Forde 2007
By: Ralph Quinlan Forde
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