Menopause is the natural end of a woman's reproductive age. It signals the new era of post-menopause. It usually begins with a gradual decline in hormones (and fertility) after age 42. The classic age range of menopause is between 49 and 56, with 51 being the average age of menopause.
Menopause is a normal, gradual process of adjustment lasting many years. It occurs "asymptomatically" – without symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms, then there is a problem. The most common signs of imbalanced menopause are hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes and insomnia.
The most distressing and common signs of imbalanced menopause are hot flashes and night sweats. When I was in school we actually measured significant temperature changes in a woman having a hot flash – up to 70F! (Many of our volunteers preferred the term "power surges" to "hot flashes.") Hot flashes occur as a result of a disturbance in homeostasis – the ability of your body to maintain a normal balance in changing circumstances – and are often regulated by serotonin.
Temperature regulation occurs mainly in the hypothalamus, an organ deep in your brain that links your nervous system to your hormone system. It is the gland that turns on the thyroid when we are building muscle and turns on the adrenal glands when we are under stress. The hypothalamus responds to hormones in the blood and hormones found in our food and water.
Natural plant-based hormones are found in foods such as seeds (flax, sesame, sunflower), legumes (soybean, garbanzo bean, green bean), nuts (chestnuts, almonds, peanuts), fruit (apricot, dates, blueberry), and herbs (black cohosh, dong quai, fennel, chasteberry and damiana). These signal the hypothalamus to restore balance and often reduce or ease hot flashes.
Though night sweats can be caused by conditions other than hormone imbalance, they are mostly related to the hypothalamus/adrenal communication that is lost or impaired during menopause. Many of the same remedies that work for hot flashes also work for night sweats. However, traditional Chinese Medicine tells us that night sweats respond more readily to fruits (apricot, dates and blueberry), oils (evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil) and botanicals (wild yam, chasteberry, damiana and licorice). There is also evidence that ginseng and eleuthero-ginseng help restore hormone communication and ease night sweats.
As mentioned earlier, menopause will often affect your mood. This may be because of psychological factors, such as realizing that an important era of your life is complete. It is more often a hormone imbalance upsetting the supply of serotonin. The neurotransmitter serotonin governs mood, appetite, sleep and many other functions. Imbalance in serotonin caused by the stress of menopause contributes to hot flashes, night sweats, osteoporosis, weight gain and insomnia.
Remedies for imbalanced serotonin may include licorice, eleuthero-ginseng and ginseng. Branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) and GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) also help restore normal balance to serotonin, improving mood, appetite and general energy levels.
Serotonin governs sleep as well as mood, appetite and hot flashes. GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) improves serotonin function, and 5-HTP from the plant Griffonia actually supplies the building blocks of serotonin. Together with preparations for balancing hormones, these supplements help improve sleep quality and quantity. Remember, you can't heal if you can't sleep!
Natural Menopause Treatment
Good fats make good hormones. We must have good fats as a starting point for hormone balance. OmegaPrime provides the evening primrose oil and high-lignan flaxseed oil needed to build healthy hormones.. Hormone balance occurs mostly during deep sleep. Peaceful Sleep nourishes the sleeping process and supports healthy serotonin balance. Above all, Balanced Woman provides the nutrients, branched chain amino acids and herbs to support the hypothalamus as it nurtures homeostasis and restores balance, reducing night sweats and hot flashes, improving appetite and sleep.
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