Kaleidoscopes Butterfly


19 May 2023

Lots of words describing menopause and it's symptoms

The menopause has affected every woman over the centuries, yet we are still trying to work out how best to navigate this time of change and for many, great affliction!

One thing to note is that we are all different, and menopausal challenges are all different, so one size generally does NOT fit all. Which is why this topic is so complex! Hopefully this blog contains something for everyone! If you have any specific queries, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.

As hormones are the major issue during menopause, HRT or bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can be a lifesaver for many, but I am not going to cover those here as I am not a doctor! Instead, I’d like to give you an insight into some natural ways of supporting yourself through this phase of hormonal changes, as these could be relatively easy, quick, hassle-free solutions for you!

So what is the menopause?

Menopause is one year without a period for over 50s, or 2 years without a period if you’re under 50. The phase leading up to this is called the perimenopause, which can last up to 10 years. The average age for periods to stop is 51 years old.

The hormonal ups and downs during menopause can cause some horrible symptoms. What is still remarkable is that 77% of women don’t realise that their symptoms are related to the menopause.

Oestrogen has over 350 functions in the body! It literally affects every system, so it’s no wonder we feel odd when it is all over the place!

Oestrogen affects neurotransmitters, and essentially the gut microbiome, which I am particularly interested in and will be focusing on here. Also, when oestrogen drops, it can increase inflammation and it also affects our thermal regulation.

Menopausal symptoms:

Hot sweats and brain fog. Anxiety. Palpitations. Mood swings. Uncontrollable crying. Dry, itchy skin. Thinning of hair. Dry eyes. Weight gain. Body shape change. Feeling disconnected. Joint pain. Bloating. Cravings. To name just a few!

How Chinese medicine can help

I have personally massively benefited from both shiatsu and acupuncture for over 20 years. They completely healed me of chronic eczema in my 20s, after trying literally everything else, and this then set me off on my path of becoming a health and wellness enthusiast and a shiatsu massage therapist. Here are the main menopausal symptoms and how to ease them according to Chinese Medicine:

  1. Low energy

    Apparently, according to Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who is a Biochemist and Nobel Prize winner: “In every culture and in every medical tradition before ours, healing was accomplished by moving energy.”

    Did you know that as early as 5000 BC the Chinese started mapping how human energy flows around our bodies in channels called meridians, and this is when acupuncture was started? For centuries, other healing traditions from India, Thailand, Japan and Tibet as well as other countries also all spoke of energy channels along which vital energy flowed. This vital life force, or “qi”, is composed of two kinds of forces, yin and yang.

    Recently Western science has finally proved that meridians exist and call them the “primo-vascular system”.

    Our bodies need balance. A balanced flow of energy – not too much or too little – is conducive to good health. Like the balance of yin and yang:

    Yin - Earth, femaleness, darkness, passivity, shyness, inward-looking
    Yang – Heaven, Maleness, light, activity, outgoing personality, being assertive,

    When the flow of our energy is blocked it causes low energy and illness.

    I wanted to highlight yin and yang because I see that so many menopausal symptoms are related to yin or yang deficiency, so I just wanted to explain these a bit, and what you can do to help boost them:

  2. Yin deficiency

    Yin deficient symptoms include many classic menopausal issues: Anxiety, insomnia, night sweats, hot feet, hands and chest, feeling hot in the afternoon, scanty dark urine, flush on cheekbones.

    Ways to support yin (I have massively simplified this for you):

    • Have a shiatsu massage from me or an acupuncture session

    • Do yin yoga and/ or meditation

    • Support your kidneys, as they support the yin in the body. Give yourself time to relax. Avoid emotional stress, irregular eating and being too busy

    • Yin replenishing foods are mainly bitter and salty. They include asparagus, cucumbers, tomatoes, bananas, watermelon, raw fruits and veg, seafood and pork.

    • Two acupressure points you can press yourself to nourish the yin in your body: Kid 3 (between ankle and achilles tendon) and sp 6 (3 finger widths above the tip of the inner ankle bone). Also good for tonifying the spleen and liver energy, and helping with any gynaecological problems, digestive problems and insomnia.

  3. Deficient Kidney energy By supporting your yin you’ll also be supporting your Kidney energy, which acts like a rechargable battery for all the Qi, or energy, in the body. Kidney energy is all to do with your health, bones, growth, development and reproduction. The emotion linked to the Kidney energy is fear. Kidney issues often arise when we are dealing with fear, such as a change in life direction (which often happens at the time of menopause, as our kids leave home). Supporting this energy will help with achy knees and back, plus the menopausal symptoms of hair loss, loss of stamina and general tiredness, loss of appetite, swollen ankles/ feet or hands, shortness of breath, the increased need to pee in the night, itchy skin and insomnia. Foods that build strong Kidney energy: seafood, bone broth, black beans, kidney beans, walnuts, chestnuts, grapes, leeks, strawberries, dark leafy greens, black sesame seeds, goji berries (support vitality)

  4. Yang deficiency symptoms (often caused by overwork, or the wrong diet) include: Feeling cold, tiredness, low motivation or depression, bright pale face, loose stools, frequent colds, tendency to put on weight

    Ways to support yang:

    • Gentle Shiatsu

    • Acupuncture and moxa

    • Food-wise, good to eat spicy, hot food (Good yang food is ginger, nuts, eggs, quinoa, cherries, strawberries, prawns, chicken and lamb) – avoid cold/ raw food (mainly sweet and pungent)

    • Daily gentle exercise like yoga, pilates, tai chi or qigong

    • Good quality sleep, including afternoon naps if you can

    • Take breaks throughout the day

    • Some points you can press yourself CV6 (1.5 finger widths below tummy button) and Stomach 36 (3 finger widths down from the knee joint, 1 finger width out from the shin bone). This is a really strengthening point. It’s good for general weakness, indigestion, constipation and knee problems.

  5. Deficient/excessive Liver energy Liver keeps our energy circulating smoothly. It is to do with our identity, vision, life purpose and our urge to live and grow. It harmonises our emotions, and helps us plan and adapt to changes.

    Signs of a Liver imbalance: mood swings, menstrual pain, headache, dizziness, dry eyes, tendonitis, two vertical lines above the nose, an olive-green darkness to your face, migraines, vertigo, PMS, rigid tight joints, or hyperflexible, poor nails, sudden anger or rage and sleep issues.

    Ways to support your Liver energy:

    • Eat leafy greens

    • Lemon water in the morning

    • Drink plenty of water (ideally 2 litres a day, minimum)

    • Exercise – get your body moving

    • Rest (our blood collects in our Liver at night when we sleep, so the liver helps rejuvenate us while we are sleeping. If we don’t sleep well then it leads to weakened Liver Blood, which can lead to more anxiety, tighter muscles etc.)

    • Manage stress

    • Good foods to support your Liver: artichoke, avocado, dandelion greens, garlic, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lemons, limes, apples & mushrooms

    • Limit your alcohol intake

    • Take a supplement that contains milk thistle (eg. Arbonne’s Cleantox Herbal Infusion tea).

    • Massage Liver 3 (in junction between big toe and 2nd toe, under where those bones meet).

Western Medicine & Gut health!

We often don’t like to think about our digestion and bowels but they are super important, and if you address your gut health you are highly likely to alleviate your menopausal symptoms!

I’m sure you’ve heard of the gut microbiome, but this has only been known about for less than 15 years, and there is new research about it coming out all the time!

This is the genetic code of all the bacteria and viruses and fungi that are in our body. We need the bacteria to lead a healthy life, and it is of course found in our gut, but also on our skin, in our nasal passages, and vagina. We live symbiotically with these microbes.

Here is a scary statistic for you...we are actually more microbial than we are cellular! We have approx. 38 trillion microbes in our colon alone and only 37 trillion cells in our entire body!

Our gut is responsible for lots of important functions in the body:

What happens if there is a dysbiosis in the gut?

This means that there is too much bad bacteria. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, digestive problems, trouble urinating, acid reflux, heartburn, food intolerances, gas, bloating, inflammation, aching joints, acne, skin rashes, eczema and psoriasis.

How to heal your gut

  1. Stop feeding it with sugar, processed food and sweeteners.

  2. Replace good bacteria... fermented foods, probiotic supplement.

  3. Feed good bacteria...pulses, avocados, asparagus, leafy greens, rich nutrient-dense food. I personally think that supplements are really important as the quality of our food is not what it was. Choose good-quality supplements though, such as those supplied by Arbonne.

  4. Sleep and de-stress

  5. Exercise.

  6. Need high quality protein for repair and recovery and to deal with the exercise

I find that doing a gut reset plan at least twice a year is also a excellent idea, particularly once we are over the age of 40. I personally do Arbonne’s 30 days to healthy living plan. This gets me into healthy habits, improves digestion, curbs cravings (especially caffeine and sugar), helps me to sleep better and really helps to boost my energy and the health of my skin, hair and nails.

Testimonial: “what an amazing journey! I have really enjoyed the shakes, and those together with the gut health powders, superfood greens, skin elixir etc. I feel like a new woman! So much fitter, the bloating has gone, and I’ve lost 6lbs. I’ll definitely be continuing with a shake every day and my eating habits have certainly changed. It’s been easy. I would recommend it to anyone.”

How to support skin health

With menopause there is not only a loss of oestrogen, but also a loss of collagen.

During the first 5 years of menopause we apparently lose about 30% of our collagen. Then we lose about 2% of our collagen every year for the next 20 years. Collagen is like the tent poles of our skin. Without it, we get dry, dull, wrinkly skin. We can also get itchy skin and skin tags from hormonal changes and collagen breaking down.

Fluctuating hormones can cause breakouts with a rise in sebum production.

Digestion can get sluggish, which leads to food fermenting in the gut. Skin and gut talk to each other all the time.

So how can you help your skin?

Diet is key, as well as good, toxin-free skincare.

Main ways to support the health of your skin

  1. Improve Gut health and use a good probiotic, such as Arbonne’s Guthealth Digestion & Microbiome Support.

  2. Balance your blood sugar, so you are less sensitive to insulin. Excess sugar links to collagen proteins which makes them stiff and ages the body, and the skin.

    • If eating carbs, eat high quality protein. Balances blood sugar.

    • Add fibre and plants. Antioxidants and polyphenols. More from a real plant not a factory plant.

    • Eat wholefoods, grown in the ground.

    • Take a collagen supplement to support the collagen matrix in the skin. Also you can add a supplement that supports the body to produce its own collagen. Vitamin C is key. Arbonne’s SkinElixir Collagen Builder is fantastic, contains lots of vitamin C and hyaluronic acid and has made such a difference to my hair, skin and nails (hyaluronic acid is produced in our bodies and acts like a sponge, to improve moisturisation).

  3. Have a good skincare routine. As we age our skin needs extra support, as it doesn’t hold onto moisture as easily anymore.

    Key skincare ingredients that I swear by:

    • niacinamide (vit B3) – potent antioxidant that fights free radical damage, great for pigmentation, collagen-building. Environmental protector. Strengthens skin barrier to retain moisture.

    • Retinols or Bakuchiol – gold standard. Retinols promote cell turnover. Babies’ skin turns over every 6-8 weeks. Retinol helps to slough off the old skin cells.

    • Bakuchiol produces the same results without the sensitivity.

    • Stabilised vitamin C – vital for collagen production. Much better if stabilised so it doesn’t degrade quickly. Oil-based is good, then it sinks in better.

    • Peptides – small chains of amino acids. They send a mayday signal to the body that collagen is being broken down, so your body makes more collagen.

Skincare from Arbonne that I highly recommend for anti-ageing: AgeWell and DermResults (refer to https://tanianoble.arbonne.com)

Self care

Here are a few self care tips to end with. There are so many pressures on us women nowadays. Make yourself a priority, to counteract stress & raised cortisol. It is not selfish. If you are OK, then everything flows!

I really hope that all this advice is helpful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me via email at tania@oxfordshirewellness.co.uk.