No orthodox medication will ever be able to precisely mimic the finely tuned, ever-adjusting levels of hormones produced by an individual woman. The ovaries may no longer be producing oestrogen, however the adrenal glands, liver, fat (adipose) and muscle tissue and intestines take over the role of oestrogen production. It is common sense then that peri-menopausal and menopausal women be considering their intestinal health as well as liver detoxification. The reduction of stress levels is also important, so that the adrenals are no longer in over-drive AND if you weigh more than what you did in your twenties this is also NORMAL and needed for oestrogen production!
Synthetic administration of oestrogen and progesterone totally crushes and over-rides the capacity of a female body to make the gentle transition to a new mechanism of natural hormones. HRT produces a non-physiologic pattern of breakdown products that the liver does not recognise and increases undesirable levels of certain liver proteins as well as increasing the likelihood of gall bladder stones. Premarin, the most commonly prescribed oestrogen pharmaceutical, is derived from PREgnant MARes’ urINE.
In July of 2002, you may remember press releases about a major clinical trial on HRT (the oestrogen plus progestin trial) that was stopped in its tracks three years short of its completion. It was decided that the health risks outweighed the benefits. They had found that HRT increased the risk of invasive breast cancer beyond the specified safety limit. The study also found increases in coronary heart disease, stroke and pulmonary embolism in those women receiving HRT, compared to women receiving placebo. The TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) concluded that the combination HRT in any form should not be used for long-term disease prevention in postmenopausal women because the risks outweigh the benefits.
The best, most effective way to come off HRT is slowly and in conjunction with your health care professional. Most women have to re-experience some symptoms, often more than what they would have experienced initially if they had never gone on HRT. (All those extra toxins in the liver). But with a pure diet, liver cleansing techniques and herbal medicine, the transition you may have been avoiding will be much smoother.
The dietary intake of phyto-oestrogens improves many perimenopausal/menopausal symptoms including flushing, sweating and vaginal dryness. Adding just 100gms tofu and 1 tablespoon of cold pressed flaxseed oil has had a remarkable effect on many of my menopausal clients. And when you add herbal medicines containing plant oestrogens, the benefits are even greater.
Edible sprouts; particularly Alfalfa sprouts have been scientifically proven to have oestrogenic activity. Most fresh and dried beans and possibly all legumes (beans, chickpeas, etc) are thought to contain quantities of plant oestrogens. Linseeds (flaxseeds) and the grains including corn, rye, buckwheat, millet, oats, and barley all contain lignans, phyto-oestrogenic compounds. And the culinary herbs, aniseed, caraway, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, parsley and fenugreek also possess oestrogenic activity.
From my understanding the best exercise you can possibly undertake promoting bone density, fitness and to enhance emotional well-being are walking, swimming (preferably in fresh/sea water), Tai Chi, Chi Gong (gentle Chinese exercise) and some of the more gentle forms of yoga, such as Tibetan and Chinese yoga. The 5 Tibetans are excellent, as they stimulate glutathione (our most important anti-oxidant) production in the liver.
The common sage is very well known to reduce sweating and flushing in peri-menopausal/menopausal women. Up to 500mls of sage tea may be taken hot or cold throughout the day. Two teaspoons per cup of fresh sage should be used or one teaspoon per cup of dried sage. Lemon may also be added for taste. Sage also has a sedating, mentally calming effect, yet also enhances concentration.
Wheat germ oil, or infused Calendula oil are the best lubricants for vaginal dryness and irritation. Wheat germ is the highest food source containing vitamin E and Calendula is a proven anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and healing agent. Applying a little natural yoghurt to the area is helpful also. Oestrogen-promoting herbal medicines and foods can also alleviate vaginal dryness.
Herbal Medicines contain oestrogen-like substances (phyto-oestrogens) that bind to oestrogen receptor sites and increase the oestrogenic response in the body. There are herbal medicines to support adrenal gland function, thereby promoting the production of oestrogen. Herbs during peri-menopause/menopause are also needed to detox the liver, manage anxiety and depression, (especially when behaviour and feelings are uncharacteristic to the individual), alleviate insomnia, reduce or clear hot sweats and flushing, promote vaginal mucus production, cease menstrual flooding, resolve fluid retention, increase energy levels and libido and can also heal a sluggish or irritated digestive system.
MORE GOOD NEWS
The fluctuating cycles of LH (Luteinising Hormone) and FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) during the menstruating years frequently bring emotional highs and lows and feelings of instability. After menopause, LH and FSH balance out bringing emotional stability and an unbelievable feeling of well being! Menopause can be something to look forward to, rather than being dreaded!
Miriam Young is a Medical Herbalist and Counsellor specialising in herbal detoxification programs. She is available for consultations via skype/phone/face time or face-to-face on the sunshine coast.