Mistress of Menopause Workshop

Hi,
Have you, or anyone you know, totally had ENOUGH!! of menopause?
If the answer it YES, then this workshop is where you need to be. It will help you reclaim your life and by the end of the day you will feel refreshed, empowered and know how to truly be the Mistress of YOUR Menopause.

For more details – See the workshop postcard below and go to my website http://www.berrisnaturopath.com to view associated videos.

MofM flyer for WEBSITE 72p

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The Importance of Healthy Gut Microbiota

 

Many of you may have seen the recent two part series on Catalyst regarding the importance of healthy gut bacteria, also known as gut microbiota or gut microbiome. They were fantastic episodes and relayed a very important health message that was easy to grasp and understand. If you missed these, I encourage you to watch them on iview. It will be worth your time.

This is a topic that I have lectured on extensively during both my trips to the US this year, and one that I am very excited about. Whilst watching Catalyst I was reassured to know that I had captured all the latest research and information for my lectures. At times it felt like they were reading from my lecture notes!

 

Historical Perspective

It would be quite understandable, after watching Catalyst, to be left with the impression that all of this information is new. In actual fact that is not the case. Hipprocrates, who is regarded as the Father of Western Medicine, spoke about the dangers of an unhealthy gut, “Death sits in the bowel” and “A bad digestive system is the root of all health evils”. Hippocrates lived between 460 and 377 years BC. So, you can see humans have known about the influence of the gut on health and disease for a very long time.

What is new is the science that helps us gain an understanding of how and why the gut is so influential on our health. Most importantly modern science is telling what causes altered gut microbiota (dysbiosis) and what we can do about it.

Physicians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries believed that the health of the gut influenced many aspects of health, including mental/emotional health. Modern science now shows us that anxiety and depression can be induced in both animals and humans simply by causing dysbiosis. By the 1930’s, theories about the importance of the gut in health and disease began of lose favour and the medical profession moved on to newer explanations of disease causes, one of which was Freudian psychology.

So, basically we have come full circle. Our forefathers dating back to Hippocrates (and perhaps beyond) understood that a healthy gut is the basis of good health throughout the body.

 

Functions of Gut Microbiota

After spending many hours reading research on this topic I have been left with the belief that there is not a tissue, organ or cell in the human body that is not influenced by the gut microbiota.

The functions performed by the gut microbiota are vast and I suspect, not yet fully understood.  One of the most fascinating and important factors to know is:

“The gut microbiome performs activities that are not encoded in the human genome

In other words the gut microbiome performs functions essential to life, that we are not capable of performing for ourselves. We are absolutely dependent on our gut microbes not only for our health but for our very lives. The term ‘super-organism’ has been used to describe the combination of humans and the microbes that inhabit them. The two are inseparable. It is a truly symbiotic relationship.

 

Major Influences on Gut Microbiota Population

  • Antibiotics. It is common knowledge that antibiotics can cause detrimental changes in gut microbes but there may be a few things that you do not know. We don’t necessarily have to take antibiotics ourselves in order to be exposed to them. Exposure can occur through the food we eat. For example, antibiotics are fed to food animals raised intensively eg in feed lots. Vegetables may also be a source of long-term exposure to low dose antibiotics. Scientists in America have found antibiotics in vegetables grown in manure from animals that had been fed antibiotics.
  • Diet. Diet is considered to be the control switch for the intestinal microbiota, its health and diversity. A diet high in fibre rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and low in refined, fatty, sugary foods will nurture a healthy gut.
  • Infant nutrition. Breast fed infants have healthier gut microbiota than those who are formula fed. Human breast milk contains mediators which modify the pattern of intestinal microbiota.
  • How you are born. Babies born vaginally have a healthier array of gut microbes than those born via caesarian section. During vaginal birth, babies are exposed to their mother’s vaginal and intestinal microbes. It is important for the mother to have a healthy gut microbiota during pregnancy, at birth and during breastfeeding. In one study, when women took probiotics for the last few weeks of pregnancy and for the first 3 months of breast feeding, there were fewer incidences of allergic diseases in the children as they aged.
  • Stress. There is a bi-directional line of communication between the gut and the brain (gut-brain axis). Research has shown that stress alone can cause dysbiosis, which in turn can have a negative impact on emotional health. Basically a vicious cycle is set up.
  • Poor upper digestive function. Inadequate hydrochloric acid in the stomach not only reduces our ability to digest food and obtain nutrients, research has shown us that it is also a major cause of lower gut dysbiosis.
  • Intestinal infection and infestation. This can be due to parasites, fungal, bacterial or viral infections. Candida is a common gut infection I see in my clinic. This can escape from the gut and become systemic, causing a wide array of symptoms. This organism is also responsible for vaginal thrush in women and can also infect men.
  • Too little or too much exercise. Exercise is important but it needs to be the right about for you as an individual.

 

Conditions Linked to Dysbiosis

  • Autoimmune diseases. Research is indicating that dysbiosis may play a role in the development of all autoimmune diseases. It is important to remember that autoimmune diseases are complex and there is never a single cause but for many people dysbiosis may be an important factor, not only in causing the disease but also in sustaining it.
  • Gut disorders. Dysbiosis is probably a major factor in many gastrointestinal disorders including:
    •  Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Inflammatory bowel diseases
    • Excessive flatulence
    • Certain types of food sensitivities
    • Chronic diarrhoea and constipation
    • Diverticular disease
    • Gastrointestinal infections and intestinal overgrowth eg Candida
    • SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
  • Other disorders include:
    •  Allergies
    • Poor immunity
    • Chronic skin disorders
    • Lack of well-being, low energy and poor digestion
    • Emotional and psychiatric problems eg anxiety, depression
    • Obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes

 

How to Improve Gut Microbiota

  • The number one way to ensure that you have healthy gut microbiota is to have a healthy diet  – high in fibre rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and low in refined, fatty, sugary foods.
  • Engage regularly in a healthy level of exercise.
  • Minimise toxins as much as possible in your food, water, home and work environments.
  • Try to avoid exposure to antibiotics in your food – eat free range chickens and eggs; organic or grass fed meat.
  • Avoid taking antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.
  • Have a positive attitude to life. When necessary use methods/practices to minimise your stress levels. Any healthy practice that works for you is good. Take appropriate herbal medicines to improve your body’s capacity to respond to stress.

 

Natural Medicines

There are many herbal and nutritional medicines that can help to improve the health of your entire digestive system. When treating dysbiosis in the colon it is important to consider the health of the whole digestive system. The specific medicines used will depend on the gut health and general health of the individual involved. For example, if the dysbiosis in the colon is caused by low hydrochloric acid production in the stomach, there is no point focusing all treatment on only the colon. This will create only temporary improvement in the microbiota population. We must, at the same time as treating the colon, use remedies that will improve hydrochloric acid production in the upper gut. This will give us a more holistic and longer lasting solution.

I hope this brief article gives you a better understanding and an appreciation of how important the health of our digest tract is to our overall health, and what you can do to improve the health of your gut microbiota.

This is basic naturopathic philosophy which is now, thanks to modern research, also part of main stream modern medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

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Heart Disease in Women: The Silent Killer

Heart Disease in Women: The Silent Killer

[The information below is a condensed version from the transcript of a TED talk given by Dr C. Noel Bairey. You can get the full transcript and see the video of her talk by going to the link below. I urge you to do so.
http://www.ted.com/talks/noel_bairey_merz_the_single_biggest_health_threat_women_face.html%5D

Before you read on I would like to say this, “In my opinion it is appropriate for post-menopausal women to discuss with their doctor, appropriate investigations that will pick up any sign of heart disease. Remember often the first sign is a heart attack, which in many cases is fatal”.

One out of two women will be impacted by cardiovascular disease in their lifetime. It is a leading killer of women, a fact that is not well-know.
We have traditionally thought of heart disease as a men’s health problem. Sure, we know that women are at increased risk after menopause, but the actually severity and frequency of heart disease and heart attacks in women has not been highlighted enough.

It is a simple fact that more women die from heart disease than men. Over several decades we’ve seen a marked decrease in the number of men dying from heart disease. This is not the case for women. More and more women are dying from cardiovascular related problems.

What might surprise many is that heart disease kills more women at all ages than breast cancer.

What these statistics suggest is that the diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, which have been developed in men, by men, for men for the last 50 years work very well for men but NOT FOR WOMEN!

So, why is this the case? It is because women do not look like men, they don’t present with the same male-pattern heart disease for which we have spent the last 50 years developing diagnostics and treatment programs. This means that heart disease in women is often not detected and therefore not treated.

THIS IS A SERIOUS ISSUE FOR WOMEN, because unlike other conditions such as breast cancer, heart disease often kills very quickly. There may be no opportunity to say good-by, no opportunity to take her for chemotherapy, no opportunity to help her pick out a wig etc. The first time it strikes it will cause sudden cardiac death in up to 50% of people (men and women).

Women are more likely to die of a heart attack than men, and many of these women will never know that even had heart disease!

In her TED talk Dr Bairey describes the differences between a ‘male’ heart attack and a ‘female’ heart attack:
“So I’ll describe the male-pattern heart attack first. Hollywood heart attack. Ughhhhhh. Horrible chest pain. EKG goes pbbrrhh, so the doctors can see this hugely abnormal EKG. There’s a big clot in the middle of the artery. And they go up to the cath lab and boom, boom, boom get rid of the clot. That’s a man heart attack.
Some women have those heart attacks, but a whole bunch of women have this kind of heart attack, where it erodes, doesn’t completely fill with clot, symptoms are subtle, EKG findings are different – female pattern. So what do you think happens to these gals? They’re often not recognised, sent home”. And, of course no treatment is given.

Although heart disease can affect women of all ages, it is much more common in women after menopause. As we have seen in the information above, heart disease is often missed in women.

In my opinion it is appropriate for post-menopausal women to discuss with their doctor, appropriate investigations that will pick up any sign of heart disease. Remember often the first sign is a heart attack, which in many cases is fatal.

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Food Sources for Immune Enhancing Nutrients

Food Sources for Immune Enhancing Nutrients
Below is a list of foods containing some of the major nutrients needed for healthy immunity. However, all nutrients play a role including the macronutrients – protein, fats and carbohydrates.
The secret is to have a healthy diet containing lots of fresh vegetables, some fresh fruit, lean animal foods (if you are not vegetarian/vegan), some nuts and seeds, and some whole grains especially the high nutrient grains such as quinoa. A variety of healthy foods is the key. It is also best to avoid the health damaging foods such as refined sugars and flours, packaged/processed foods, artificial food additives, also excessive alcohol and caffeine.

Check out my other blogs related to the immune system – Twelve Tips That Will Improve Your Immune System, Effective Everyday Actions to Improve Immunity, Herbs and Nutrients for Optimal Immune Function, Treat Flu Symptoms

Vitamin A
• Liver
• Paprika, Red Pepper, Cayenne
• Orange Sweet potatoes
• Carrots
• Dark leafy greens
• Pumpkin

B Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
• Whole grain cereals and breads, wheat germ
• Pulses/legumes such as lentils, kidney beans, chick peas
• Dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli
• Animal foods including fish, egg, milk, meat, pork
• Nuts such as almonds and pecans.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
• Chicken, fish, eggs
• Pulses/legumes such as lentils, kidney beans, chick peas
• Milk and milk products such as yogurt and cheese
• Nuts
• Dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
• Chicken, salmon and in fishes like canned tuna
• Pulses/legumes such as lentils, kidney beans, chick peas
• Whole wheat, quinoa

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
• Potatoes
• Red meat, poultry, eggs
• Quinoa

Folate, folic acid, or folacin
• Leafy greens such as spinach, fenugreek, turnip greens, asparagus, etc and other fresh fruits and vegetables are all excellent sources of folate
• Liver
• Pulses/legumes such as lentils, kidney beans, chick peas

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
• Fish, shellfish
• Red meat, poultry, eggs
• Milk, milk products, cheese

Biotin
• Liver
• Egg yolks
• Salmon
• Pork
• Avocado
• Most fruits and vegetables contain some biotin, as do cheeses and whole grains

Pantothenic Acid
• Yogurt
• Avocado
• Smaller amounts in legumes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and broccoli

Vitamin C
All fruits and vegetables contain some vitamin C. Some may be lost during cooking
• Berries, kiwi fruit, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, mango, pawpaw, pineapple
• Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green and red peppers, spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, tomatoes

Vitamin D
There are very few foods in nature contain vitamin D
• Fatty fish including salmon, tuna, and mackerel contain some
• Fish liver oils

Zinc
Many soils are low in zinc and some modern agricultural practices add to this depletion. The foods listed below will only be high in zinc if the foods are gown or the animals are raised in areas that have adequate zinc.
• Shellfish, particularly oysters
• Beef, lamb
• Nuts and seeds, particularly pumpkin seeds
• Whole grains

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Twelve Tips That Will Improve Your Immune System

Twelve Tips That Will Improve Your Immune System

When your immune system is functioning well, it is more capable of fighting infections, whatever the cause. There are also plenty of things that you can do in order to improve the strength of your immune system. Read on to discover twelve of the most effective tips.

1) Monitor your vitamin intake:
If you want to boost your body’s defenses, try to make sure that you have a balanced and adequately high vitamin and mineral intake every day. Studies suggest that resistance to disease is influenced by our nutritional status. All nutrients will have either a direct or indirect impact on the health of your immune system. Some specific nutrients include vitamin A, B Complex vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc. So, try to ingest more foods that contain these vitamins and minerals (or consider taking a multivitamin on a daily basis).

2) Be sociable:
Interesting new research has revealed that people who sustain close, affectionate friendships and relationships tend to have better health and longer lifespans. As a result, maintaining an active and fulfilling social life and trying to make new friends may help to improve your immune system.

3) Reduce your stress levels:
A range of studies on susceptibility to infection suggest that people who suffer from chronic stress end up with weaker immune systems, leaving them more vulnerable to infections like the flu. If you want to improve your own immune function, do your best to avoid stress and to find effective ways to cope with any stress that you do encounter. Try explicitly setting aside a regular block of time in which your only goal is to relax by reading, taking a bath, going for a walk or simply doing nothing.

4) Have more sex:
If you are in an intimate relationship, there are some surprising perks for your immune system. Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A, or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections. If you are not in a sexual relationship, all is not lost! Go back to 2) Be Sociable, and make sure this is a priority in your life.

5) Stop smoking:
In addition to making you more likely to suffer from cancer, strokes and heart attacks, studies show that smoking cigarettes can dramatically reduce your immune system’s ability to fight viruses and bacteria that you encounter.

6) Exercise more often:
Regular cardiovascular exercise improves the immune system and also helps to keep your cardiovascular system healthy at the same time. Ideal examples include swimming, cycling and using a rowing machine. Caution – over-exercising can deplete your immune system. Regular moderate exercise is best for most of us.

7) Practice good hygiene:
If you keep your hands clean by using a good quality antibacterial soap or hand wash, you will be less likely to end up falling ill after coming into contact with people who are carrying potentially dangerous viruses or bacteria.

8) Boost your intake of antioxidants:
There are promising studies that suggest that your immune system will be improved if you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables (due to the antioxidants that they contain). Although work on antioxidants remains somewhat contentious, they may protect you from toxins and help to improve your resistance to infection.

9) Adopt a good sleep pattern:
Your immune system is weakened if you sleep for less than eight hours most nights or if you regularly go to sleep in the early hours of the morning. Insomnia is a problem for many people but the good news is, there are many natural solutions that will improve the duration of sleep and also the quality of sleep.

10) Watch your alcohol consumption:
Excessive consumption of alcohol reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. If you drink alcohol try to have no more than 1 drink 4 to 5 times a week.

11) Work to improve your mood:
Recent research suggests that people who have an optimistic outlook also enjoy improved resistance to disease. This interesting result should prompt you to try and focus on the things that make you happy and grateful for the life you have.

12) Laugh often:
Finally, one interesting study found that participants had stronger immune systems shortly after watching video clips that elicited sincere laughter. This result warrants further investigation, but it may be the case that frequent laughter is correlated with a decreased likelihood of regularly falling ill.

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Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal fatigue or deficiency is a major cause of fatigue and is also associated with hormonal imbalances. The most common cause of adrenal fatigue is STRESS. Add to this the fact adrenal fatigue in itself is stressful and you can see it is a problem that needs to be remedied quickly.

Every type of stress makes demands on the adrenal glands. Stress is not restricted to emotional stress i.e. situations when we know we are stressed. Stress can also exist in the body without us being aware of it. For example, situations that stress the body without necessarily causing emotional stress include nutritional deficiencies; exposure to environmental toxins via our food, water and air; inefficient detoxification pathways in the body; and reduced production of natural antioxidants in the body. This is just a few of the ‘unnoticed’ stresses that can occur.

A certain amount of stress is normal and in fact necessary for our continued survival, however when the stress burden becomes too great the adrenal glands begin to suffer.

What is adrenal fatigue?
The adrenal glands are small walnut sized glands that sit on top of the kidneys. Despite their small size they have huge responsibilities. They play an important role in healthy glucose metabolism, energy maintenance, the ability to relax, body weight and the production of hormones.

Adrenal fatigue describes a situation where the adrenal glands are not working to their full potential and therefore not producing a sufficient amount of hormones needed for good health, in particular cortisol and DHEA.

Initially in the stress response levels of cortisone and DHEA increase but with continued stress the adrenal glands cannot keep up the demand and the levels of these hormones decrease. This means a decrease in energy, reduced brain power, increased inflammation in the body and unwanted changes in the immune system.
Symptoms of adrenal fatigue

The symptoms of adrenal fatigue are many and varied, and may be different from one person to another. It is important to note that most of the symptoms that are associated with adrenal fatigue can also exist in other conditions, for example thyroid disease, menopause.

Symptoms include:
• Fatigue
• Disturbed sleep
• Depression, anxiety, inability to cope, moodiness
• Reduced or no interest in sex
• Immune system dysfunction
• Increased infections
• Autoimmune disorders
• Thyroid disturbances
• Blood sugar and insulin disturbances
• Muscle weakness
• Inflammation

You can see from this list of symptoms what a big impact there is when the adrenals are not operating efficiently.
Healing the adrenals
Herbal medicines

There are many herbal medicines that help to restore adrenal function and protect the adrenals from further damage from stress. Two of these herbs are considered to be adrenal tonics, Rehmannia and Licorice. Both of these herbs are used widely by Naturopaths to improve adrenal function, whether it is overactive or underactive as in the case of adrenal fatigue. It is interesting that both of these herbs also have very effective anti-inflammatory activity. Licorice can be contraindicated in some situations eg hypertension and oedema so it should be prescribed carefully at the correct dose for the individual.

Herbs that protect the adrenals from the effects of continued stress are called ‘adaptogens’. This name arises from the fact that they actually help the body adapt to stress. For many years there has been a large amount of research into these herbs and we are gaining a much greater understanding of them as a result. There are a number of mechanisms by which these herbs actually improve the stress response.

One of the major factors involved is the increased production of a particular type of protein in the cell called ‘heat shock’ proteins otherwise known as ‘molecular chaperones’ because the protect proteins inside the cells during times of stress. They also stimulate the immunity and protect from infection and disorders associated with immune system.

The major adaptogenic herbs include Korean ginseng, Siberian Ginseng, Withania, Rhodiola, Schisandra, Codonopsis and Astragalus. The correct adaptogen/s has to be chosen carefully for each individual person to suit their symptoms and their situation. They certainly would not all be taken together.

The adaptogenic herbs not only support the stress response they also improve immunity, enhance sense of wellbeing and improve physical and mental performance. They are truly remarkable herbs and are indeed the remedies the 21st centuary.

Nutritional medicines
An overall good nutritional status is important for healthy adrenal function but there are some nutrients that are specific for the adrenals.
• Tyrosine – an amino acid that helps the body adapt to and cope with the effects of physical and psychological stress
• B Complex vitamins are important, particularly vitamin B5
• Vitamin C – the adrenal glands store large amounts of vitamin C and this is used up quickly during times of stress

Other important nutrients include magnesium for healthy nervous system function and healthy glucose metabolism. Zinc is also very important as a co-factor for many enzyme reactions throughout the body and it is often deficient.

Diet and the adrenals
It is important to think about what we eat and when we eat. One of the major effects of stress is poor food choices. We often choose fast, convenient food that fills us quickly so that we can move onto the next task etc. In most cases these foods will be full of refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and sugars. This leads to increased weight, blood sugar and insulin problems, low energy and further adrenal depletion. Low energy leads to cravings for more refined carbohydrates and sugars leading to even lower energy and adrenal function. It becomes a vicious cycle!

Caffeine is another item that is often consumed in large quantities when people are tired. There is no doubt it will initially pick up energy but that energy does not last and is usually followed by a crash. The main source of caffeine is traditionally coffee but in recent years we have seen the introduction of high caffeine containing energy drinks. The majority of these contain large amounts of sugar along with the caffeine. Other sources include tea and chocolate and the herb Guarana. Caffeine has profound detrimental effects on the adrenals and should be avoided during times of high stress and adrenal overload.

Wise dietary choices
In general eat meals and snacks made of fresh whole foods such as whole grains and lots of fresh vegetables and some fresh fruit. Good quality protein is also important and helps to maintain energy levels and blood sugar levels when consumed with each meal throughout the day. Protein can be obtained from animal sources such as lean meats, free range chicken and eggs, fish and sea foods, dairy products; or from vegetable sources such as soy bean products which contain whole proteins. Dried legumes such as lentils, chick peas, kidney beans etc do not contain whole protein and should be combined with a grain on the same day. This provides all the essential amino acids necessary for the body to make proteins.

Stress management
Recognising the cause of stress and eliminating it as much as possible is a great start to adrenal health. We certainly cannot always escape from the things that stress us, so we can find ways to manage the stress whilst, at the same time using the adrenal tonic and adaptogenic herbs to improve our stress response.

Stress management techniques need to be discovered individually. One activity will not suit everyone. For example, some people find that vigorous exercise is a great stress management tool whilst for others it would be too strenuous and further deplete the adrenals. Although moderate exercise is always a good thing, too much will damage the adrenals, reduce energy, deplete immunity and lead to further problems.

Any activity that you love doing that helps you chill out is a good stress management tool and should be used on a daily basis.

If you are to have healthy adrenal functioning there are many factors to be considered and a multi-pronged approach, taking into account all the points discussed above, is usually needed. If you can follow these simple guidelines, and seek professional advice for herbal and nutritional prescriptions, you adrenals will be healthier as a result.

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Menopausal? DON’T PANIC

Menopausal? – DON’T PANIC

Menopause – we all dread the thought of it, but in reality many of us know very little about it, until we are smack in the middle of a hot flush or a mood swing and then we panic that the best part of our life is over.

Instead of panicking, let’s get a grip and look at menopause from a different angle. Forget all the horror stories you have heard about menopause and what you have learnt from the previous generation. Times were different then. Topics such as menopause were not discussed openly (even with the family doctor!) and women carried the burden on their own, usually with absolutely no understanding of what was happening to them. No wonder many of them (and their families) had such a difficult time!

We baby boomers are lucky enough to have a very different life. Information on menopause and peri-menopause is everywhere and these days we can go into the menopausal years relatively well informed. Whereas our mothers’ generation waved handkerchiefs over their sweaty brows and bodies and cried about the loss of reproductive power, our generation is more likely to wrap our handkerchiefs around our foreheads and head off to the gym or the Zumba class.

An important fact to remember is that menopause is not a medical condition. It is a natural process in a woman’s life and instead of being viewed with trepidation, menopause can be approached with a sense of excitement and joy at the prospect of entering a new phase of life.

Menopause is defined as the end of your menstrual periods. For most women this occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. For several years before the periods stop women experience the symptoms of peri-menopause, which is the time when the hormones start wildly fluctuating causing the periods become irregular and a multitude of symptoms to occur.

The most common symptoms are hot flushes (70% of women) and emotional changes including depression and mood swings (40% of women). Other symptoms include vaginal dryness, bladder irritability, reduced or no interest in sex, insomnia and fatigue. Sounds awful, doesn’t it!! Don’t despair, help is here!

Next time that you feel like Krakatoa getting ready to blow; that you feel puffy, flushed faced and damp, and everyone else looks slender and cool as a cucumber; or that you’re jotting your name down and you have to pause for a moment, to think what it is; you may decide it’s time to explore your options.

Natural medicines have a long history of being used to improve the transition through menopause into the next phase of life. There are many herbal medicines in particular, that are very effective in not only relieving the symptoms of menopause but also in managing the underlying cause of the symptoms, the hormonal fluctuations and depleted adrenal function.

Optimal health is important for the years surrounding menopause. This is especially true for the adrenal glands. These tiny walnut sized glands that sit on top of the kidneys play an essential role in managing the stress response, energy maintenance and in the production of sex hormones when the ovaries begin winding down production in the peri-menopausal years.

The one factor that damages the health of the adrenals more than anything else is stress! So, it is not surprising that many women approaching menopause have depleted adrenal function which in turn leads to more problems during menopause. An important factor about the use of natural medicines is that they can be tailored to suit each individual woman.

The common medical treatment for menopausal symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Although HRT can alleviate the symptoms in many women it is often delaying the inevitable. Once HRT is discontinued the symptoms often return, sometimes with more severity. If you think about it, the symptoms of menopause are in response to lowering hormone levels and when HRT is stopped you are back to square one. It makes more sense to manage the symptoms, improve adrenal health and general health with natural medicines to ensure long-term freedom from symptoms and increased vitality and zest for life.

HRT is not without its problems. Long-term clinical trials have shown that extended use of HRT may increase the risk of breast cancer, blood clots, hypertension and other medical conditions. If HRT is to be taken, it should be prescribed selectively and not taken indefinitely.

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