Why is menopause treated like a disease, when in fact it’s a naturally occurring process?
Menopause is a natural, physiological cycle that occurs in all women. Conventional medical treatments only address various symptoms and signs associated with menopause. However, symptoms and signs are just one part of the whole picture.
Menopause Chinese medicine view
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine understand that symptoms and signs are merely indications of an imbalance deep within the body.
It focuses on correcting underlying imbalances that have occurred over the years. These imbalances, if left unchecked, will result in a variety of symptoms and signs.
Acupuncture and woman’s natural process
Menopause signifies “a change” within a woman’s life. This change occurs because a woman’s body chemistry is shifting.
Chinese medicine recognises this chemistry change as a natural process.
Oestrogen is similar to what acupuncturists call Jing Qi. Jing Qi is like a gift that is given to all of us at the time of conception. It is the battery that provides us with the basic energy to power all our life functions. When Jing Qi is abundant, our ability to adapt to disease, illness and stress is optimal.
As we age, our supply of Jing Qi energy is slowly drained. Generally, Jing Qi naturally begins to decline between the ages of 35 to 60, although some people drain it faster than others. When Jing Qi declines, the Organ Systems within our body become unbalanced. This leads to various symptoms and signs, such as greying hair, loss of libido, weakness of knees, urinary difficulty, poor memory, backache and fatigue.
How Jing Qi can be drained
- Over working
- Over stressed
- Poor dietary habits
- Inherited weakness
- Burning the candle at both ends
- Excessive activities (sexual, alcohol, drugs, late nights)
Imbalance in Yin and Yang
Another factor that can contribute to menopause is an imbalance in Yin and Yang energies.
One possible scenario is an imbalance caused by the slowing of the flow of Yin. Yin can be thought of as the cooling system of the body. When this cooling system declines, heat symptoms will naturally arise, leading to night sweats, restlessness, hot flashes, mood swings, heart palpitations and insomnia.
The decline of Yang energy can also lead to imbalance. Yang represents the warming and metabolizing functions fo the body. When Yang is unbalanced, symptoms may include water retention, cold hands and feet, weight gain, edema, indigestion, hypertension, or raised cholesterol levels.
Left untreated, a decline and imbalance of Jing, Yin or Yang will lead to the symptoms and signs that are normally associated with a Western diagnosis of menopause.
How does your TCM acupuncture practitioner do?
An acupuncturist will conduct a thorough evaluation and a complete health history. The symptoms, signs and other information that is gathered are pieces of the diagnostic health puzzle. Putting together this puzzle allows a practitioner to develop a unique treatment plan that will address each patient’s individual concerns.
When treating menopause related symptoms, an acupuncturist must first determine where the energy has changed, and what Organ Systems have become imbalanced. Once this is known, various natural therapies such as acupuncture, herbs, meditations, Qi Gong and diet can be used to correct the imbalance.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer a natural, drug–free way to address menopause. Treatment supports the healing energies of Jing, Yin and Yang, providing the body with the building blocks it needs in order to nourish, heal, and regain balance.
Management of Menopause Symptoms with Acupuncture: An Umbrella Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Apr;24(4):314-323.
An umbrella systematic review (SR) was conducted, supplemented by a search of published randomized controlled trials (RCTs), that assessed the effectiveness of acupuncture for VMSs, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and adverse effects of treatment in perimenopausal or postmenopausal women. Meta-analyses were conducted using a random-effects model when data were sufficient.
Evidence from RCTs supports the use of acupuncture as an adjunctive or stand-alone treatment for reducing VMSs and improving HRQOL outcomes, with the caveat that observed clinical benefit associated with acupuncture may be due, in part, or in whole to nonspecific effects. The safety of acupuncture in the treatment of VMSs has not been rigorously examined, but there is no clear signal for a significant potential for harm.
This research showed that acupuncture significantly ameliorated general menopause symptoms including negative mood, sleep problems, pain, headache and dizziness. While meta analysis suggested that acupuncture did not reduce the severity of hot flushes compared with hormone therapy, the side effects of drug therapy are significant and its safety profile is poor by comparison.
The authors suggest that the mechanism by which acupuncture alleviates menopause symptoms might include regulation of cytokines and the autonomic nervous system.
Breast cancer patients concerned about the adverse effects of hormone therapy may consider acupuncture.
Suggested management plan
Acupuncture once per week for 6 weeks, with or without Chinese herbal medicine
As each person is different, to know if acupuncture CHM may be helpful for you, please feel free to let us know.