Ancient Wisdom for Menopause Relief
The March 5, 2008 edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association published the findings of a new study that followed women from the original Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study for two and a half years after they stopped their hormone replacement regimen. The original research investigated the health effects of taking estrogen plus progestin in older women, but it was prematurely halted in 2002 because researchers found an increased breast cancer risk in the HRT users. The most surprising discovery in the current study found that, even two and one half years later, former HRT users have a 24% greater risk of developing many different types of cancers, including a slightly elevated risk of breast cancer, as compared to nonusers.
Many American women discontinued their HRT therapy when the initial results were made public and were dismayed to resume their struggles with the major problems of menopause including hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, headaches, irritability, nervousness, fatigue, inability to concentrate and vaginal dryness. But the great news is that the majority of women don't have to suffer, there is a wonderful alternative to traditional HRT. It is a natural, drug and hormone free method of treatment that has been used safely and effectively to ease the symptoms of menopause for over 2,500 years. It goes by various names, Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, or Oriental Medicine, but they all refer to the same system of medicine which includes the primary modalities of acupuncture and Chinese herbology.
The ancient Chinese developed this medicine and its diagnostic principles based on their belief that human beings were a microcosm of nature and that the same natural laws applied to people as well as their surrounding environment. The fundamental philosophy is to treat the person as an integrated whole in body, mind and spirit by addressing both the symptoms and the root cause of the condition. Once the root cause is treated, the symptoms are relieved naturally and the results are often successful where many other methods have failed and relief is typically more significant and longer lasting.
In the context of Oriental medicine, menopause is considered a perfectly natural transition from reproductive to non-reproductive age, not as any type of disease or pathology. During the first visit, the acupuncturist will ask lots of questions in order to completely understand this person's specific pattern of disharmony. He or she will then develop a completely customized plan for the patients' unique needs and recommend a synergistic combination of acupuncture and classic Chinese herbal formulas to address their condition at that moment in time. As the symptoms subside, the treatment plan will be modified to address the new pattern or any secondary conditions that still remain. Once a significant level of relief is achieved, a maintenance program is developed to continue to safely support the patient for as long as is needed. By stimulating the body to function optimally and naturally, there is almost no risk of the side effects that are so prevalent with the use of external hormone therapy.
In Oriental medicine theory, estrogen is considered to have a cooling and moistening effect on the body and the decline of estrogen levels at menopause is partially to blame for the strong sensations of heat and dryness. Classic Chinese herbal formulas that include herbs with cooling, nourishing and astringing properties are used to calm the heat sensations of the hot flashes and to help minimize the associated sweating. Calming substances are added to relieve anxiety, irritability and insomnia. Painkilling herbs are used to address the headache pain while nourishing herbs address the root cause of the headaches. Once the body is nourished and cooled, menopausal symptoms are relieved and cease to be problematic.
Acupuncture supports the herbal formula therapy by stimulating and regulating the brain, endocrine glands and the nervous system. It also promotes the release of painkilling endorphins and the secretion of serotonin which naturally enhances mood. In addition, it strengthens the immune system. Addressing these complex mechanisms allows the body to naturally regain its preferred state of balance or "homeostasis".
Oriental medicine is considered a primary complementary medicine modality and is highly respected within the contemporary healthcare landscape. It is endorsed by such venerable institutions as The Mayo Clinic, WHO-the World Health Organization, and the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC. In 1998, The Archives of Internal Medicine reported that "...M.D's refer patients to acupuncturists more than any other alternative care provider". It is hard to imagine anyone more mainstream or more influential in popular culture than Oprah. Last summer she featured acupuncture on her show and her main medical expert, Dr. Oz, talked about his passion for acupuncture and alternative medicine.
An excellent way to find the best acupuncturist for a patient's needs is to refer to the online directory www.acufinder.com
. By typing in the local zip code, a list of all the practitioners in that area will be displayed along with a complete profile and additional information.
Deannie Janowitz is a California Board certified Licensed Acupuncturist and an NCCAOM Diplomate in Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology. She holds a Masters Degree in Oriental Medicine and has completed advanced training in Beijing, China and Seoul, Korea. Her practice in Torrance, CA focuses on all aspects of Women's Health. Deannie welcomes any questions regarding the use of Oriental Medicine for menopausal symptoms and can be reached through her website www.radianthealthacupuncture.com.