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Managing my Menopause-without Hormones

By Associate Professor Teresa Mitchell-Paterson

There is no doubt that some women experience extreme menopausal symptoms, however there are some natural approaches to be considered before addressing the symptoms with hormonal therapy.

Tip for discussion if considering hormonal therapy: Discuss any history of hormone-sensitive cancers, blood clotting disorders, and age over 60 with a GP before using medical hormone therapy.

Generally, in most women menopausal symptoms will gradually decrease over time, it is important to remember this is a natural phase of life and not a disease.

The following are some tried and true solutions for the most common symptoms of menopause.

Insomnia: Make sure you turn off screen time at least 2 hours before bed, stop stimulant tea/coffee/drinks before 3pm and try some herbal tea just before bed. These teas need to be steeped for at least 5 minutes to get the benefits from the natural chemicals. Examples are Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Valerian or Vervain. If you wake in the middle of the night try some deep breathing or box breathing techniques to help you relax and get back to sleep. A dab of Lavender oil on the pillow has proven benefits for sleep.

Energy: Make sure you have adequate and quality sleep. A healthful diet will help with energy levels through Menopause. The best researched diet for energy is the Mediterranean diet, it is low in animal meat, high in vegetables, legumes, olive oil and fruit which will ensure the essential nutrients are present to boost energy forming chemicals into the energy systems. See also Exercise.

Exercise: Exercise can reduce the multiple side effects of menopause, including improving energy, reducing weight gain, improving sleep, memory and bone strength. Find an exercise that you enjoy 30-60 minutes of exercise, reduces stress and raises the happy hormone dopamine, exercise could be as simple as turning on your favourite music and dancing around the room.

Hot flushes: Avoid the following foods, chilli, ginger, pepper, alcohol, caffeinated tea/coffee, stimulant drinks. Drink herbal teas containing Sage, Bupleurum or Zizyphus (also known as Chinese Date). In a recent study it was suggested that a B complex multivitamin daily in combination with Fish oil can help relax the nervous system responsible for the vasodilation that causes hot flushes.

Vaginal health: There are some natural lubricants that can be found at your local health food or vitamin store that are non-toxic and female reproductive health friendly. They are made out of vitamin E, Apricot or Sweet almond oil and anti-inflammatory herbal formulas that do not upset the vaginal microflora.

Libido: Libido is complex and may be dependant of space and time for intimacy. Some herbal formulas that may be helpful that have some level of scientific evidence are Panax ginseng, Gingko, Maca, Tribulus and Saffron. Dating back to Adam and Eve, apples have been correlated with a healthier sex drive.

Memory or mood changes: The changes to body and body image, hot flushes and impact of hormonal changes may culminate in mood changes. Green tea contains a mood enhancing and sedative chemical L theanine, a few cups a day could help ease the mind.

Supplements – always talk with your natural therapist to tailor the right nutrients or herbs for your specific concern, particularly if you are regularly taking medication.

More about the author

Teresa Mitchell-Paterson
Associate Professor Teresa Mitchell-Paterson

Teresa is a skilled naturopath with a career that spans over 20 years. Her assistance in the treatment of chronic illness comes from a solid knowledge of human biochemistry, physiology and natural treatment protocols. Teresa bases her therapies on both traditional and evidence-based medicines and a thorough understanding of her patients. An advocate of integrative medicine, Teresa has a particular interest and experience in chronic illness, chemotherapy and radiation support, chronic infection, chronic joint and muscle disorders, chronic gastro intestinal conditions, low mood and energy.

Teresa Mitchell-Paterson is a tertiary academic at Torrens University and is completing a PhD. Teresa has extensive experience in educational management, curriculum development, compliance, governance and alumni mentoring. She has been in continuous naturopathic practice for over 25 years (Bioceuticals Practitioner of the year 2015 – 2017 highly commended, 2019 ATMS practitioner highly commended) and is currently at a integrative practice in Sydney. She is also a FILEX 2016 presenter, member of the Health and Wellness panel for the Memorial Winston Churchill Trust, Ambassador and fellow of ATMS and holds a Nutritional Advisory position with Bowel Cancer Australia.