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Wei Zhao, LAc, CMD
Acupuncture, Herbs and Menopause
Wei Z. Zhao, CMD

Acupuncture, Herbs and Menopause

Menopause is the permanent cessation of menses. While it is a normal process of aging, it may create a number of complications such as hot flushes, osteoporosis, psychosomatic complaints, and genital atrophy.
Hot flushes (also called hot flashes) are the visible flushing of blood affecting the thorax, neck and face, followed by an increase in body temperature and sweating. They occur most frequently at night, and it is not uncommon for women to experience insomnia, restlessness, irritability and emotional instability.
Osteoporosis is characterized by reduction in bone mass. The clinical implications of osteoporosis include bone fracture after minimal trauma and prolonged recovery. Osteoporosis continues to advance with age and can be life-threatening.
Genital atrophy may progress to vaginal dryness, painful coitus, diminished libido, increased vaginal ulceration, and infection.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is considered the standard allopathic treatment for menopause and related conditions. Estrogen is commonly prescribed for numerous purposes, including but not limited to menopausal signs and symptoms, osteoporosis and atrophic vaginitis.
The disadvantage of estrogen therapy is the staggering number of possible side effects, including increased risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial carcinoma, malignant neoplasms, and more.
Progesterone may be prescribed in combination with estrogen to minimize the risk of endometrial cancer. However, it may cause side effects such as increases in cholesterol levels, edema, weight gain, and bleeding. Due to the possible adverse effects, there are many women who cannot, or will not, take hormone replacement therapy.
Menopause patients are encouraged to consume a diet with a high content of fruits and vegetables to stabilize blood sugar. Some foods that may promote hot flushes or aggravate mood swings should be avoided, such as dairy products, red meat, alcohol, sugar, spicy foods, and caffeine. Cigarette smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke should be avoided. Stress and anxiety should be avoided as much as possible.
Vaginal dryness can be addressed with topical application of aloe gel or wild yam cream, which can be purchased at health food stores. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the kidney is the organ that is responsible for growth, maturation and aging. Therefore, kidney deficiency is the universal diagnosis among all women with menopause. Acupuncture points will be selected from kidney meridian and other associated meridians to tonify kidney and relieve symptoms.
Traditional Chinese medicine may be effective in treating menopause and related conditions. It is thought that the harmonious blend of stimulation with tonic herbs and inhibition with sedating herbs is essential in treating patients with imbalances of the endocrine system. It is not unusual for women to experience renewed menstruation once herbal treatment is underway.
Chinese herbs have demonstrated via numerous in vivo and in vitro studies to have an effect on the endocrine system to help alleviate hot flashes, vasomotor instability, loss of bone mass and other conditions associated with menopause.

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