Background on acupuncture for menopause
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be a great support for menopause. The National Institute on Aging defines menopause as a point in time 12 months after a woman’s last period. The time leading up to and after that event is called perimenopause. It typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. During this time, women can experience a variety of symptoms including hot flashes, palpitations, digestive issues, insomnia, and mood changes. Women have many options to get support during this important life change. One of those options is acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Why acupuncture and Chinese medicine are a great option for supporting menopause
Here are some of the many reasons why acupuncture and Chinese medicine are a great option for supporting menopause:
- It is oldest recorded medicine and is thousands of years old
- It focuses on whole body wellness rather than the treatment of or fighting a disease or painful condition
- It takes a holistic approach – body, mind, and spirit
- An emotional or mental event is just as important as a physical one
- It focuses on the individual
- It is complementary to other healing modalities, including western medicine, massage, chiropractic, therapy, and others
A holistic and individualized perspective
An important facet of Chinese medicine is that all signs and symptoms are understood in relationship to the others. In western medicine, you’re likely to get prescribed different medications for each of your symptoms, and perhaps referrals to various specialists. In Chinese medicine, the symptoms often relate to underlying patterns of disharmony that can be addressed as a whole.
Additionally, Chinese medicine is individualized. There is no one size fits all treatment strategy For example, we might have five women experiencing hot flashes. But each one may be experiencing hot flashes for very different reasons, and it’s important to understand why and what’s going on with each woman at a foundational level so we can understand the root cause and give her the specific support she needs.
Yin and yang in relation to menopause
One of the most fundamental concepts in Chinese medicine is yin and yang. Yin is nurturing, cooling energy. Yang is warming, quick energy. They complement each other and are defined in comparison to one another.
When yin and yang are out of balance, disorder and discomfort can arise. I see this often in patients going through menopause. Typically, they have an excess of yang energy and a deficiency of yin energy. The yin energy is needed to hold down the yang energy. When there is not enough yin, it does not adequately hold down the yang, and hot quick energy flows upward in the body. In other words, a hot flash.
Why does this happen, you might ask? Well, it can be quite simple. Women today have a lot of responsibilities. We do it all. We take care of everyone and everything. We’re also rewarded by how productive we can be, how many accomplishments we can have, how many plates we can juggle. That is all yang energy. Most of us are not balancing this with yin activities, like resting, meditating, quiet stretching. Too much yang, and not enough yin.
Qi and menopause
Another important concept in Chinese medicine is qi. Qi refers to energy, or life force. Qi is running through our body, and in particular, in what are called channels or meridians. We have channels of energy that flow through our bodies just like we have arteries and veins. One thing that’s key for optimal health and wellbeing is the free and smooth flow of qi. When our qi stagnates, dis-ease can result. An injury can cause stagnation of qi, for example, a broken bone, a cut, or stitches.
An interesting emotional situation that can cause qi to stagnate is when we feel mentally stuck. Have you even been in a situation where you feel like you have no ability to change it, and no outlet for your frustration? That kind of stuck mental feeling is a reflection of qi stagnation. How about feeling like you have no down time, are you always behind, running late, don’t have enough time to do all that you need or want to do? That’s also what qi stagnation feels like.
One of the things I like most about Chinese medicine is that if focuses on optimizing the flow of energy so that they body can heal itself. The body has innate wisdom and knows what it needs to be healthy. When our energy is not balanced, disharmony, illness, and pain can result. Chinese medicine helps restore the smooth flow so the body can focus on healing itself.
As we age, what we look like changes. It can be unsettling. It can even be scary. As we enter this phase of life, some of us may question our worth, our value, or our purpose. Our intrinsic beauty and wisdom that is emerging may not be obvious to us.
How we look, and more importantly, how we feel about how we look, can have a big impact on how we feel about ourselves. It’s ok, and normal, to want to be the best version of ourselves and to want to enhance and maximize our beauty. That can be an important part of self-care. Some of us might consider face lifts, botox, injectables, and things of that nature. Others may want to do those things but are concerned about the invasiveness and possible side effects of those procedures.
Light therapy is a wonderful non-invasive way to enhance your natural beauty. Light therapy is the use of specific wavelengths of light to produce therapeutic benefits. The light we have at HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese medicine has red, blue and yellow lights which provide a number of benefits, that include things like stimulating collagen production that helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles, healing acne and skin conditions like eczema and rosacea. It does not have any UV rays and in fact helps heal sun damage. It can also stimulate hair growth. You can read more about light therapy in my blog The benefits of light therapy.
Relaxation is key
Another thing to consider is relaxation. Chinese face readers say that when we get to be in our middle ages, our faces reflect what we think and feel. Relaxation is a key to good health, beauty, and menopause. Relaxation is the ultimate way to nurture and increase your yin energy to balance that busy yang energy. Consistency is important. Ideally, something you do every day for yourself, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Want to know more and get some ideas? Read my blog on Healing yourself with the relaxation response.
Ear seeds for menopause
Ear seeds can also be very helpful for menopause. An ear seed is a small sphere placed on an acupuncture point on the surface of the ear. Adhesive tape holds the ear seed in place. It works by exerting a gentle pressure on the acupuncture point. A patient can wear ear seeds for up to five days. They are a great way to continue treatment at home. Ear seed kits are also available for people who are afraid of needles. You can learn more about ear seeds in my blog All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy.
Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you with menopause? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-4269.