There is nothing inherently pathological or bad about menopause. Menopause is a natural transition in a woman’s life … yes, the emphasis is on NATURAL. It’s just a transition time that, because it brings with it many changes in body and mind, is often confusing, baffling and concerning to women.
Ideally, you would want that transition to be easeful, wouldn’t you? Yes, things are changing but the ride should be smooth. According to well-known authors, like Christian Northrup and Robert Svoboda, you won’t find women complaining about menopausal symptoms in traditional villages of India or Africa. They simply don’t get what the big deal is. Hot flashes? What’s that? Excess bleeding? Weight gain? Don’t get it.
If you were to look at the ancient Ayurvedic texts you would notice that here is no section on menopause. Oh sure you could look up individual symptoms like weight gain or emotional imbalance, but there is not a thing on menopause… If it was a big pathology they would surely have dedicated a specific section to it.
The truth is though that, while menopause indeed is a natural transition, it is undeniable that many women in the industrialized world face unpleasant symptoms… That’s just reality! Here are some: hot flashes, weight gain, changed menstrual cycles, inexplicable mood swings, osteoporosis, change in sex drive… Are you getting depressed yet just reading about them?
If you are anything like me, you don’t want to live with these symptoms AND you want a solution. So why not see a physician, who checks your hormone levels and indeed confirms that you are in peri-menopause, menopause or somewhere thereabouts. And because physicians are heavily trained in pharmaceuticals the remedy they know is… drum roll… Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)… you guessed it.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking HRT, it has its place in certain cases. It surely helps many women through a rough stretch. It’s just that it also has nasty side-effects. HRT can cause cancer, most notably uterine and breast cancer. Some women also have massive weight gain as a result of the medication. What is most concerning though is that by taking hormones we are robbing the body of its ability to regulate and heal itself. This is true for synthetical as well as bio-identical hormones. Symptom reduction and Eternal Youth come at a high price.
The majority of women don’t really know what else to do beyond HRT. Some smart ones (or is it the lucky ones living in esoteric towns?) understand that herbs might be a good alternative. That’s AWESOME!!. Herbs are a lot more intelligent than hormones produced in a lab by humans. Yep, I gotta break the news, nature is more intelligent than humans. Herbs have a ton of active ingredients and are able to speak with your body and give it what it needs most.
Beyond that, most women are at a loss. They may get the general idea that diet and lifestyle has a huge effect on their health but they are not able to correlate their symptoms with it.
So here it goes… the current treatment plan goes something like this:
HRT… nothing… Herbs…… nothing…… nothing…… Maybe diet changes would work?… Maybe lifestyle changes?
Last year I did an informal survey asking women why they think they have menopausal symptoms and although I live in a conscious community who are way into alternative healing methods women were not making a link between their symptoms and their diet, lifestyle and mental attitudes. I thought that was really interesting. And truly there is no blame. I get it. If you eat or do something for years and years, and it has been working you are baffled when all of a sudden it isn’t working.
What I am proposing instead is this…
Well, it’s not really me proposing, it’s Ayurveda…… Let’s flip the chart around like this:
Let’s look at diet and lifestyle first. See how your body responds and how it shows up differently for you. The likelihood is that it will show up VEEEERY differently. There are no side-effects, no harmful substances to take and you are honoring your body’s ability to heal itself. If diet and lifestyle don’t do the trick let’s look at herbs. And if none of that works, let’s look at HRT as a stop-gap measure.
The thing is this, pick up any menopause book – whether written by an alternative practitioner or MD – and you will notice that besides all the valuable information on how your hormones are changing and what happens during this phase there is usually a section on diet and lifestyle.
The truth is, diet and lifestyle play a huge role in how the body shows up for us.
The simple equation goes:
If you show up for your body, the body will show up for you. Every single cell in your body is made up of the food you have eaten in the past. If you eat prana-filled food whose cells are intact and intelligent, your cells will be nourished and will perform well. They will also be intelligent. Thus, they will do a lot better in a transition, on a journey like menopause. Just think how much better you do on a trip when you are well-nourished vs when you are sick and undernourished.
So just saying… feed yourself well. Uplevel your diet. Align your exercise. Nourish yourself… Investigate. Be curious. And menopause will show up in a much more pleasing way for you.