Ayurveda addresses the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause first with changes in lifestyle and diet. If this doesn’t alleviate a woman’s symptoms, it offers herbal remedies.
You can talk to a herbalist, Ayurvedic consultant, or Chinese medical herbalist about appropriate herbal supplements. Some studies have shown herbal remedies and acupuncture to be effective.
In my experience, they are effective if the right remedy is matched to the individual.
While there are myriad natural remedies for the specific symptoms of imbalanced hormones, such as insomnia or hot flashes, I find that balancing hormones through lifestyle and diet changes will usually heal the problem, not just its symptoms.
If you focus on treating insomnia, for example, without addressing its cause (hormonal imbalance due to excess stress), you will have to treat it forever.
We have seen that as we age, our yin hormones decrease. Menopause marks the most dramatic drop. From this point onward, a woman has less of a buffer against physical or emotional stress. This is a physiological indication that a change has occurred.
This is why menopausal women often feel they no longer are the women they once were. They aren’t. This isn’t a problem. The problem comes when we do not adjust our behaviors to reflect this reality.
In Ayurveda we would consider that one cause of excess stress is poor diet, another is inappropriate lifestyle, and a third is going against the nature of things.
Throughout perimenopause and menopause, if we continue to try to employ the “full-steam-ahead” habits, tactics, and strategies we used in our twenties and thirties, we may well find that, not only do they not work anymore (if they even worked in the first place), but they make us feel physically tired, emotionally stressed, and spiritually exhausted.
The inherent strength of a woman’s constitution dictates how well she can tolerate a stressful lifestyle and poor nutrition. If her constitution is weak, she may never have been able to tolerate poor habits without her body complaining loudly.
She may have had to be very conscious of her diet and lifestyle and learned to tailor them according to what her body could handle. If her constitution has always been strong, she might have been able to tolerate poor habits longer without too much complaint from her body.
She may have been able to drink three or four glasses of wine a day and smoke a half pack of cigarettes and still have received a clean bill of health from her Western medical checkups her entire life.
However, in her early to mid fifties, she may find her tolerance plummets. Health problems begin to surface that clearly demonstrate all is not well.
For example, she may suddenly test positive for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, breast cancer, adrenal burnout, emotional disorders, or a host of other possible diagnoses. Or maybe she gets colds and flu that are more severe and last longer than ever before.
Ayurveda considers that menopause marks a major turning point for a woman. It’s a time of transition when she is naturally suited to begin an inner journey.
Up to now in her life, it was natural for her to educate herself, raise a family, develop her profession, and engage fully in the world.
Menopause is the time to reverse the momentum of her involvement in the activities of the world, turn this energy inward, and begin to plumb the depths of her soul.
It helps if she has explored this territory already, but one way or another—by force of circumstances or by choice—she now needs to become as comfortable with her inner world as she has been with the world around her.
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Excerpt from the book Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life, by Dr. Claudia Welch. Reprinted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2011.