29.01.2016 Naturopathy

Good Health After Menopause

A balanced hormonal system is crucial to health and wellness after menopause. Story by Naturopath Lyn Craven

In this topic I will also look at post hysterectomy since many of the distressing symptoms women experience after this surgery (especially if the ovaries are removed) equates to a natural post menopause stage or worse.

Some women may experience very early menopause in their twenties and thirties but this does not occur often.The usual time frame is mid forties to late fifties with a few reaching their early sixties before they are considered to bepost menopause.

If you have gone over 12 months with no period you are “officially” in a post menopause state.

Women who undergo hysterectomy, especially where the uterus, ovaries and tubes are all removed, often experience flushing and other physical and emotional symptoms regardless of their age. However, exceptions here might be when a woman has continually supported her body with the correct natural remedies, a healthy fresh food diet, daily exercise, 7-8 hours undisturbed sleep a night and stress management through meditation, yoga or tai chi.

Some doctors dispute that natural remedies can make a difference here.I know they do, by witnessing patients and also from personal experience since I had no symptoms whatsoever!

Waiting till the symptoms manifest is really letting your body down.You need to support the physiological changes your body experiences over time.This is more apparent in women than in men who go through andropause or male menopause, as a woman’s hormonal fluctuation is more difficult to balance.

Recovery from hysterectomy

If you keep fit, eat healthily and support your body with appropriate herbs, homoeopathics, and balanced mineral intake, you should bounce back straight away. It’s women who do not have a healthy lifestyle, are overweight, have endocrine imbalance, smoke or drink alcohol excessively or are depleted in key minerals who are more likely to struggle with recovery and gain more weight.

Bone health

HRT was - and probably still is - prescribed to many women on reaching menopause to prevent bone loss and osteoporosis. However, research has indicated this is not a valid reason.This came about around 2002 when the Women’s Health Initiative revealed research indicating that synthetic oestrogen and progesterone actually brought about higher risks of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer. No synthetic hormones are safe and without side effects - they interfere with your own natural hormonal system. The body’s metabolic system, particularly the liver, must deal with assimilating and metabolising unnatural hormones.

The FDA approved this type of hormone therapy for hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and preventing osteoporosis.However, bone loss resumes when you cease the therapy.

No synthetic hormones are safe and without side effects - they interfere with your own natural hormonal system.

Some women may use what are marketed as progesterone creams. Most are not 100% natural, and targeting only one hormonal activity is not the correct way. Particular actives are removed from certain plants that mimic the hormone receptors.This is leaning a little towards the pharmaceutical approach, which uses only the most potent actives and not the plant as a whole. This can create an imbalance in the hormonal system. There is no such thing as a hormonal plant!

When creating bio identical hormones you are reliant on the expertise of the pharmacist who creates the remedy in line with your test results. Any discrepancy here and you will experience side effects. I would place bio identical hormones close to pharmaceutical synthetic hormones. In contrast, natural formulas help improve and maintain hormone levels which are best derived from the whole plant remedies using liquid herbs or homoeopathics.

It’s a personal choice, but there are too many side effects with HRT, just as there are with the contraceptive pill.

Good strong bones require a balanced mineral level in your body. You may have the best diet in the world but if your digestive system fails you and does not absorb nutrients efficiently you can’t expect to have a good mineral profile. The parathyroid glands are responsible for maintaining a good mineral/calcium level and if they are under or over functioning this needs to be addressed. The parathyroid glands are smaller glands that sit very close to your thyroid gland. If the thyroid gland is under or over active, this can affect your entire metabolism.

Stress is often a main contributor to hormonal issues.Taking calcium supplements is not necessarily the answer.Often, too many calcium formulas interfere with correct calcium levels so magnesium is the mineral of choice in such instances. It is far better to seek professional advice on this.

Exercise your way to health and strong bones!

Exercise can combat or prevent hot flushes, build bones to keep you fit and trim and improve your mental and emotional levels. Exercise reduces stress, lowers high blood pressure and ocular pressure in glaucoma, gives clarity of mind and instils a restful night’s sleep. It also increases the number of mitochondria powering up your cells, which continually boosts further energy! Walking is free!

Stress is often a main contributor to hormonal issues.

Exercise will help you stay more youthful since the entire body is well oxygenated. The skin is the largest organ in your body and it will experience rejuvenation due to increased circulation!

So, get out and enjoy the outdoors.

Morning walks help burn off fat prior to breakfast and after dinner walks aid digestion and eliminate the day’s stress, helping you achieve a good night’s sleep.

Set you challenges for distance when walking - do more each time and build up duration.

Include pilates and/or weight lifting to generate more strength in muscles, ligaments, bones and your core.Strengthening your core is very important as we age.The core muscles are like a girdle supporting your lower back. A strong core will prevent you from falling or certainly steady you more quickly if you trip. Mat pilates is good to learn so you can then master some stretches and practise at home.

Natural therapies can help

Functional lab tests such as hair mineral analysis tests indicate how your body is utilising minerals at a cellular level (a blood test only shows what is in your blood), and also allow you to see any heavy metals, which can challenge healthy minerals. Doctors rarely conduct this test.

Hormonal tests are important; they include testosterone for women plus DHEAS, progesterone, oestrogen, cortisol, PTH, thyroid TSH, T3 and T4 at the very least. It is far more than progesterone and oestrogen, which the medical system focuses on mainly when prescribing HRT.

I conduct a dietary assessment, lifestyle changes, stress management with meditation, Bowen therapy balancing the body on all levels, herbal and homoeopathic remedies restoring hormonal balance and any digestive issues, improving liver, adrenal, thyroid, parathyroid, pancreatic and gall bladder function.

Many women state they have a strong sense of freedom and feel more empowered in all aspects of their life, particularly sexually.

Until you finetune these glands and systems in your body, you can’t expect to sail through menopause or feel strong in the post menopause or hysterectomy stages.

An experienced herbalist or naturopath should know how to formulate herbal remedies that work just as well if not better in maintaining balance with hormones.I know, because I do this for myself.Energy levels can be optimum, with improvements in sleep quality and digestive function.

The post menopause state can be a time for health and fun with no concerns over those tiresome monthly cycles. Many women state they have a strong sense of freedom and feel more empowered in all aspects of their life, particularly sexually.

Natural lubricants and vitamin E oil can be applied both topically and internally to support ageing tissue. Avoid chemical products and those that are over perfumed. When swimming in chlorine pools or even the ocean, apply olive oil or another natural oil to protect delicate tissue from any irritants in the water. Oil is also a natural barrier against water penetration.

What’s most important during this phase of life is a healthy lifestyle. Work at balancing the hormonal system to ensure you stay stronger, healthier and more vibrant after a hysterectomy and post menopause!

Lyn Craven

Lyn Craven is a practitioner of Naturopathy, Bowen Therapy, Energy/Reiki therapist, meditation teacher and Corporate Health Consultant. She is also a health researcher/writer and has produced a meditation CD assisting people to manage anxiety and stress. She runs a private practice in Sydney and can be contacted on +61403 231 804