Flushes, fatigue and forgetfulness – not to mention headaches, insomnia, mood swings and more. When HRT isn’t your thing and menopause is coming on fast, a natural therapist – and often an unexpected one – can help smooth your way…
The medical herbalist
A bit old-fashioned? Not a bit. Today’s herbal experts know just how to apply traditional remedies to treat symptoms linked to menopause.
Is it for you? “A whole range of symptoms bring women to me for help,” says phytotherapist, Dr Connie Meyer. “Mainly, they fall into two types – those who’ve come off HRT and those who don’t ever want to start it. Hot flushes and night sweats are the driving factor, but they’ll usually come with at least two others from the classic symptom package. These include insomnia, depression, lack of libido, joint pains or weight gain.”
What’s the story? After a consultation, a herbal expert will prescribe a bespoke blend of herbs in liquid form, or a tea, which makes taking it super easy – especially for those who really hate swallowing pills.
“I prescribe individually for each patient,” says Connie, “using herbs like sage and red clover for hot flushes and St. John’s Wort for the nerves. I like to establish if there are other health problems causing symptoms, and treat those too. So I might give dandelion for the liver and, if necessary, I’ll give calendula oil for vaginal dryness.”
It’s worth knowing “You can stay on the herbal mixture for a couple of years,” suggests Connie, “as long as you meet regularly with your practitioner to check your blood pressure and have them adjust your mix as things change. It’s worth seeing a herbal expert rather than buying over the counter. What you’re prescribed is stronger than what you can buy.” For experts nationwide, visit www.herbalpractitionerssa.co.za
Never thought of reflexology as a menopause soother? It’s an unexpected way to rebalance your hormones.
Is it for you? Yes, if you love a little firm massage on your feet. This is an ancient art of healing by working pressure points on the feet and hands that link to organs, glands or structures of the body.
“Reflexologists work to balance the hormones as they change and help women physically and mentally,” says expert Pat Bosman. “Hot sweats can be soothed using ear point reflexology, which is incredibly powerful. When you feel one coming on you simply press the point on your ear and it goes away… Wonderful!”
How does it feel? It’s a very gentle massage (some find it relaxing), but you may feel tenderness when the practitioner hits a spot that matches an area of the body that’s out of balance.
How often? “Regularly,” says Pat. “Once a week for six weeks initially, then every two weeks and thereafter a maintenance once a month.” For practitioners nationwide, visit www.sareflexology.org.za.
Haven’t a clue what a naturopath is? In a nutshell, it’s a practitioner who uses a whole variety of natural methods to support the body while it heals.
Why go? Because naturopathic measures are good at resolving those signature symptoms by getting to the root of the illness. “Naturopathy is so effective at using natural methods to treat ailments – the mix of herbal tinctures, vitamin and mineral supplements, and flower therapies really does help you manage your menopause naturally,” says naturopath, Dr Sameera Abbas.
What’s on the cards? Not all naturopaths are qualified herbal practitioners or use flower essences, but all pay attention to your diet, so you’ll find that they look at that and your lifestyle first.
“Once I’ve looked at a patient’s medical history and their current lifestyle, I’ll create a herbal mix that’s totally bespoke, but contains liquorice root, wild yam and agnus castus.
“Added to that will be supplements – magnesium and calcium to relax the body and give you a good night’s sleep, plus B complex for energy. Also very important are essential fatty acids – Omega 3, 6 and 9, which play a role in hormone manufacture.”
And what about those flower essences? “Some patients respond well to them, so I create a personally tailored mix of those too.” For menopause it could include She Oak to balance hormones, Marocarpa for fatigue and Mulla Mulla for hot flushes.
Dr Abbas is registered with the Allied Health Professions Council. Visit www.ahpcsa.co.za
The yoga teacher
Yoga for relaxing, yoga for fitness and even yoga for slimming, but menopause? Yes! If it’s the right type…
Which one? Hatha. “The word Hatha means balancing the sun and moon principles of our beings,” says expert Cheryl Duncan. “The main principle is about restoring and balancing the glandular system. It’s nothing to do with muscular strength, more about working the muscles that surround the internal organs.
“Hatha yoga is less strenuous than some of the more dynamic styles of yoga. You often practise it with eyes closed, so you’re focused on balancing your mind, body and spirit .”
Is it for you? Yes, if you prefer a gentle style of yoga. “It can also be challenging, as you need to hold poses for a long period,” admits Cheryl, “but beginners find they can do it.” As a bonus, you can work on it at home. Try a 20-minute session, including breath work tailored to ease flushes.
How long? “About six months, but you’ll feel an increased vitality after just one class. This isn’t yoga that builds muscle, it gives you hormone harmony.” Visit www.livingyoga.co.za
DISCLAIMER: Before starting any diet, you should speak to your doctor. You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.