Posted on December 9, 2009, under General health.

Also known as ‘change of life’, menopause is the ending of the menstrual or reproductive cycle in women. It most commonly takes place in women between the ages of 45 and 55. Some stop menstruating suddenly, others experience irregular periods for several years before menstruation ceases altogether.

While menopause is a natural stage of life, there are many problems commonly associated with it, mostly the result of diminishing levels of the female hormone, oestrogen. Some women are troubled by hot flushes, excessive bleeding, vaginal dryness, nervous disorders and depression during the transitional period.

Because the adrenal glands take over some of the functions of the ovaries at this time and produce oestrogen, the proper function of these glands is important for keeping the uncomfortable symptoms to a mimimum. Vitamins B5, C and E, as well as zinc, all boost adrenal activity. The group of compounds known as bioflavonoids may also help during this time to ease both physical and emotional discomfort. Related to Vitamin C, they assist with its absorption and proper functioning in the body. One good source is the pith of citrus fruits but they are also found in vegetables, particularly onions, and in ordinary tea.

All women should exercise regularly and eat a high proportion of raw foods. For hot flushing, take the herb dong quai which possesses the ability to balance hormone levels. This herb is being used by Western women as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy.

Recent research indicates that dong quai, a rich source of both Vitamins E and B12 may also be helpful in the treatment of anaemia and in controlling cholesterol buildup in blood vessels. A naturopath can advise you on the correct dose for your needs.

Avoid the common trap of resorting to tranquillisers to combat depression. Instead try lifestyle changes to lift your mood or learn relaxation techniques to ease anxiety. Active women appear to suffer much less from depression around this time of life. The inclusion of oats in the diet can also help alleviate mild depression.

One of the greatest risks associated with menopause is the gradual loss of bone mass. This condition is known as osteoporosis and can result in fragile bones which fracture easily. Throughout adult life, women should take care to keep their calcium intake high and calcium supplements taken during and after menopause may help.


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