How to approach and navigate Menopause naturally

Menopause.

 

What comes to mind when you see this word? It has a lot of connotation doesn’t it?  I think for many women, it conjures up horror stories from their moms and aunts about hot flashes and insomnia.  But I want to turn the tables and make this time of life less dreadful and more embraceable!

 

What really is menopause? What does it mean biologically?

 

According to Chinese Medicine, changes occur every seven years, with menstruation beginning at an average of 2×7 years, and at 7×7 years is the average time when the menstrual cycle ceases and our fertility ends.  In medical terms, menopause is the result of a natural decline of our two main sex hormones, progesterone and estrogen.

Of course this is general, and we now know that changes to our hormones can begin years before we’re officially in menopause, which is counted from 1 year after the last period.  This leading up time is called perimenopause.  Usually in our mid to late forties, the menstrual cycle can change.  For many women, this time is not smooth sailing.

 

What are symptoms of Perimenopause?

During this time in the few years leading up to menopause, women may experience any of the following:

  • The menstrual cycle gets shorter, longer, lighter, or heavier, and you can no longer set your clock by them if you could before.
  • Sleep patterns are disrupted, sometimes characterized by waking up too early in the morning with difficulty falling back to sleep.
  • Decreased libido
  • Unexplained weight gain especially around your middle.
  • Overall feeling warmer, often with flushes of heat, which are random and intense
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood changes such as increased anxiousness or irritability

 

These symptoms can arise because our reproductive hormones progesterone and estrogen impact so many functions.  Especially estrogen, as it is a major hormone in the body.

 

“What can I do about it? I don’t want all that awful stuff to happen to me!”

Yes, do something about it, exactly! You can do many things on your own to improve the transition into the wisdom years as I like to think of it.

This is when lifestyle, dietary, and therapeutic interventions or changes can really make a difference.  And starting years before menopause is your best bet.  If you are already experiencing symptoms or cycle changes, don’t worry because acupuncture and herbal medicine work great for most of these issues.

 

Positive Results I’ve seen with acupuncture and or herbal therapy for my patients includes:

Better energy

Better sleep

Better vaginal lubrication

Better mood

Reduction and elimination of hot flashes and night sweats

Improved libido

More comfortable menstrual cycles – less heavy bleeding and less pain.

 

How do acupuncture and herbs help menopausal symptoms?

 

Chinese Medicine works by balancing the hormones, which it does by helping regulate the flow of blood and nerve conduction throughout the body.  Chinese Medicine is based on the principle of Qi, which is energy that flows in invisible channels throughout the body.  Hormonal imbalances occur when there are blockages in these pathways, which disrupts our bodies’ normal processes.

What Else can I do to help balance my hormones?

  1.  Reduce Toxic Burden   — All the toxins in our homes, food, the air around us most definitely messes with our hormonal balance.  There is plenty of research.  What can you do? Reducing your contact with plastics is a biggie.  Stop buying disposable water bottles if you can help it.  Even the plastic lids on disposable coffee cups can leach chemicals.  Switching to non-toxic containers such as glass or silicone is worth it.  What are you putting on your skin?  Lotions, sunblocks and makeup seep into our blood stream, so know what is in your products.  This article gives the top ten to avoid.
  2. Reduce Alcohol Intake — the number one substance people ingest that will have a negative impact on their hormones is alcohol.  Of course a small amount is ok for most women, but some people are more sensitive.  It is a good idea to pay attention to how you feel after consuming alcohol.
  3. Stress Reduction!! — By all means available to you! Stress taxes the adrenal glands, and the adrenal glands are key for producing post-menopausal estrogen.  There are several ways to check your stress response.  Of course #1 is getting enough sleep.  If you already are experiencing sleep issues then it definitely needs to be addressed.  This can include no screens at least 1 hour before bed, and I really like this product for deepening sleep.  It is natural and gentle, and does not require a prescription.   Acupuncture is one of the most effective and deepest working ways we can improve our sleep.  It works at an energetic and holistic level to restore our body’s natural cortisol levels.
  4.  Just Eat Real Food (JERF)  — This means don’t eat packaged foods with ingredients you can’t buy in a grocery store.  It also means focusing on whole foods – fruits, vegetables, some whole grains if tolerated, organic grass-fed meats and dairy if tolerated.  The quality of the life of the animals and animal products you consume directly impacts your own health.  If an animal was confined, fed GMO corn and soy and fillers, and was over-treated with antibiotics, then this is what you are putting into your body.  We should be conscious of the source of our food.
  5. Protect your Sleep – Our hormones get even more out of whack if we are sleep deprived, because the adrenals have to produce more cortisol the more we’re awake and the circadian rhythm is disturbed.  This means less sex hormones can be produced, thus worsening symptoms.

 

The mid-forties to early fifties is a time of change and transition for women.  But it does not have to be dreaded.  Let’s celebrate all we’ve accomplished in the first half of our lives, and give ourselves the best beginning of the latter half.  Please call/text me at 630-335-1069 to learn more, or to schedule an appointment to get your balance back!

Posted in Tidbits, What We Treat | Comments Off on How to approach and navigate Menopause naturally

Endometriosis Signs and Symptoms and Treatment Options

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month!

Endometriosis is a disease that affects around 11% of women worldwide.  But the kicker is it can often take years for women to receive the diagnosis.

 

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is when the cells that normally line the uterus are found outside the uterus.  When during a woman’s menstrual cycle those cells are shed from the uterus and menstruation begins, these other misplanted cells are also signaled to bleed, and that causes inflammation wherever they are.  These cells can be anywhere in the pelvic cavity and can also adhere to the intestines and even travel up to the chest cavity in more severe cases.  So endometriosis can cause all kinds of pain.

 

How Do You Know if you have endometriosis or just bad periods?

Here are the main signs of endometriosis:

  • Pelvic Pain
  • Severe stabbing pain especially before or during menstruation.
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Post-coital nausea
  • Getting very sick with the menstrual cycle such as fever and chills, vomiting, etc.
  • Pain with urination or bowel movements
  • Pain in legs and buttocks

Getting Diagnosed

The only way to definitively diagnose the disease is via laproscopy, which is sneaking a camera in the abdominal and pelvic cavities to look for the implanted endometrial cells. Many women find out they have endometriosis when they have difficulty conceiving.  This is because the continued bleeding of the misplanted cells can cause scar tissue and adhesions to build up, and often on the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes. This blocks the pathway for both egg and sperm.

Conventional treatment Options

There are two main ways medical doctors will treat endometriosis.  One is with surgery to either cut out the adhesions or to remove tissues or organs affected. The other is the use of hormonal birth control containing synthetic progesterone called progestin.  This counters the effect of estrogen which is the hormone that causes the endometrium to grow.

There are some negative possible outcomes with either drugs or surgery.   Hormonal birth control often creates side effects and risks such as blood clots, weight gain, or mood changes.  Likewise, serious problems with surgery include the adhesions growing back or scar tissue building up.  Often doctors recommend a hysterectomy, and understandably a woman may oppose this level of invasiveness.  Even with removal of the uterus and other tissues, endometriosis can still grow back in other tissues and areas.

Chinese Medicine Therapy for Endometriosis

Some women prefer to seek other options to hormonal drugs and surgery.  Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used for many centuries to relieve menstrual pain, abdominal pain, and to improve hormonal imbalances.

What to Expect if going the natural route

Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine work to uncover the root causes of why a woman is having pain, heavy bleeding, etc, all the symptoms she experiences as part of her endometriosis diagnosis.  We as practitioners will examine the pulses, abdomen, and tongue, as well as ask many questions about the quality of the pain, blood, bowel movements, etc, to get a whole picture of what is not working right.

The Diagnosis and Treatment in Chinese Medicine

According to Chinese Medicine, most women with endometriosis have a form of what is called Blood Stasis, or Blood Stagnation.  In our medicine, refers to a poor quality of blood that is too thick or not fluid enough, and blood that is not free flowing througout the body and especially that gets obstructed in the uterus.  While these terms do not mean that there is something wrong with your blood according to conventional medicine, it refers to the way Chinese Medicine views the Blood as a grouping of functions in the body.  Once the Chinese Medical Diagnosis is determined, we can then ascertain which treatment approach to take.  For instance, if we determine the blood is stagnant, we may use herbs that invigorate the blood and points that promote circulation.

A treatment plan can be anywhere from 3 months to 9 months depending on the severity of the case.  Many women experience significant reduction of pain and bleeding and improved cycles with acupuncture and herbs, and often have noticeable improvements within the first few treatments.

finding hope for endometriosis

Here at Energy Flow Health, we support a woman’s decision, as we honor that a woman knows her body best.  It is helpful to explore the options, and if something isn’t feeling right then you always have the right to try something else.  There is hope, and if you would like to discuss working with Amy, please call 630-335-1069 for a complimentary consultation.

 

 

 

Posted in Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine, What We Treat | Comments Off on Endometriosis Signs and Symptoms and Treatment Options

Herbal Medicine for Kids – keys to unlock their own healing power

Beyond Acupuncture

As Chinese Medicine is a system of 8 complimentary modalities, acupuncture is not always the one and only therapy I use for kids.  Another super effective and important solution is HERBS!  I don’t prescribe herbs for every kid I see, however, we will discuss whether this approach is the right approach for your child depending on his or her specific case.

Easy to Take granules – just scoop and mix with hot water!

Flavors Therapy

This brings up another objection from kids (and adults alike) – “If it tastes bad I won’t take it!”  – Ah, yes, the almighty tastebuds.  It’s amazing how much influence such tiny things have over so many of us, kids especially!  Of course nature intended this to prevent us from poisoning ourselves, but I assure you, our tastebuds nowadays have been well trained by the Standard American Diet which is markedly devoid of some of the main healing flavors such as Bitter or Sour or Acrid while being, honestly, overpoweringly sweet.  But it’s the use of 5 Flavors that is the secret to how this stuff works.

So what advice do I have to get the stuff into your kiddos?

  • Just get it down!  This could mean using a straw to get it down the hatch bypassing as much of the tongue as possible.
  • For very little kids, I’m ok with mixing it with applesauce or a spoonful of honey (sorry Mary Poppins, we’re going unrefined here ;).
  • Incentives? Bribery? Parents may need to resort to some sort of compensatory bargain to get kids to take their herbs.

Some kids are just motivated to feel better so when I explain that just 2 cups of a funny tasting tea a day will help them, they’re willing to go along.  Of course, it really helps if they see Mom or Dad taking their herbs! (Hint, hint.  More on that in another blog).

 

Why Do Parents Bring Their Kids In For Treatment? What can herbs help with?

Some conditions that may be best treated with acupuncture and/or herbs include:

  • Bedwetting
  • ADHD/ Behavioral or Emotional Disorders
  • Menstrual Issues with preteen and teen girls
  • Coughs and Colds
  • More serious conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Joint Pain/Juvenile RA, etc.

Overall, we can help your child’s natural immunity and healing mechanisms to work better by removing impediments, calming the nervous system, and creating internal balance.

Posted in Tidbits | Comments Off on Herbal Medicine for Kids – keys to unlock their own healing power

Treating Kids – Overcoming Misconceptions About Acupuncture

Before parents decide to bring their kids in for treatment, they may encounter some obstacles.  Let’s talk about it so we can clear up some myths and misconceptions and get on to healing!

Objections and Gaining Trust

Your kids might say something like this:

“No way! I hate needles! They hurt!” – Most kids in the US are vaccinated from birth through adolescence, and so their main exposure to needles is the syringe used to give “shots”.  Let me reassure you right now – I do NOT use syringes! Here’s a couple fun facts that give perspective:

  • Did you know that anywhere from 20-40 acupuncture needles can fit inside a syringe?
  • The average human hair at about .10mm in diameter is just a touch thinner than my needles, which are .14-.20mm in diameter.

While that may be reassuring to you, some kids may not grasp the concept.  Luckily, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to gain their trust to try it.  Usually once they try it they like it.  My youngest patients like to tell me how many they want and where! As a mom I have a good rapport with kids to put them at ease on the treatment table.

Non-Needle Options

Still not convinced your cutie will fall for it? Well, they don’t have to get acupuncture w/needles.  I also have non-needle techniques such as acupressure and massage that are effective for young kids due to their very sensitive nervous systems. There are also other tools used to stimulate acupuncture points without penetrating the skin.

In the next blog in this series, I will explain how herbal medicine is so great for getting kids healthier.

Posted in Tidbits | Comments Off on Treating Kids – Overcoming Misconceptions About Acupuncture

Treating Kids with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Do kids get acupuncture and take herbs? You bet they do!  Here’s an intro to Chinese medicine for children.  It’s the first in a series of blogs on this topic.

*The beauty of choosing Chinese Medicine as a treatment modality for your kids is that they get better fast! The key is to bring them in at first signs of an issue – or even if they’re overall pretty healthy.  My methods find underlying patterns that have in the past or may in the future manifest in illness.

Here’s a list of common conditions I see kids for:

*frequent colds or flus or early stage of feeling like they’re coming down with something as well asactive colds or flus

*allergies, food sensitivities

*bedwetting/enuresis

*digestive complaints such as tummy aches, constipation, diarrhea, etc.

*anxiety

*failure to thrive

Usually a lot of kids’ common issues involve the digestive system – it’s weak and still developing in kids – especially the little ones!  Having kids in preschool, daycare, and public school makes it really hard to keep them on a healthy diet.  We live in a snack food culture and unfortunately many of the foods kids crave are energetically and nutritionally incompatible with their immature digestive systems.

While food therapy is important, acupuncture and herbs can really heal the imbalances and strengthen the weaknesses to make your kids more robust.

I welcome your questions and comments.  In my next blog, I will go over a couple of the common obstacles parents face when trying to choose whether this approach is right for their kids.

 

 

 

Posted in Tidbits | Comments Off on Treating Kids with Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine