Naturopathic Doctors use a holistic approach to alleviate the symptoms of menopause and to prevent or manage other medical conditions that tend to happen around the same time, such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, diabetes, and neurocognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Whether a patient chooses to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or not, Naturopathic Doctors can help by using:
Symptoms of menopause (to varying degrees of severity) include:
- Irregular menses, urinary incontinence and urinary tract infections
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Vision changes, headaches, muscle and joint aches
- Vaginal dryness, decreased libido and painful intercourse
- Insomnia, depression, anxiety, mood swings, and decreased concentration and memory
- Weight gain and accelerated skin aging
- Heart palpitations
One in three women in Canada is of the baby boomer generation and either perimenopausal or menopausal. In essence, menopause is the reverse of puberty and thus a totally natural process; however, there are different emotional responses. Perimenopause generally lasts 7 to 12 years. It usually begins in a woman’s 40s and ends 12 months after the cessation of menses. Onset is insidious, with varying degrees of symptoms. Menopause is achieved once menses has ceased for 12 consecutive months. Some women experience early menopause either naturally because of genetics or as a result of a hysterectomy.
The current theory is that symptoms are a result of low estrogen; however, this is not proven. We know that many cytokine (inflammatory)events are happening, and there seems to be a relationship with melatonin deficiency and maybe even GABA (a neurotransmitter) deficiency since St John’s Wort is so effective.
So what does this mean? You don’t have to depend on estrogen-based treatment plans!
Naturopathic Medicine has long been used to treat the symptoms of menopause and provides evidenced-based treatment options. Though Black Cohosh is reputed to alleviate hot flashes and night sweats, there are many other natural treatments. For example, Flaxseeds are recommended as a whole food (buy them whole, grind them up and add them to your food — about 40 grams, or 2 tablespoons per day). Flaxseeds can provide a significant effect; for some women it is as effective as conventional treatments (Lemay A. Obstet Gynecol 2002;100:495-504). Flaxseeds also have the added bonus of an association with decreased risk of developing breast cancer.
Bioidentical hormones are gaining popularity in the press. Under current regulations, Naturopathic Doctors are not allowed to prescribe bioidentical hormones; however, changes in legislation are in the works and thus NDs hope to have rights to prescribe certain medications in the next few years.
Weighing the Risks and Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy