IN BALANCE — Hot Flash Help

December 2, 2017

By Susan Johnston

If you are a woman between the ages of 45 and 55, you may be familiar with the symptoms of menopause. These symptoms can include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irregular menses, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, and depression, to name a few. For some, the transition is relatively easy, while the symptoms can be debilitating for others.

According to Chinese Medical theory, menopause is a time characterized by the decline of kidney yin and yang. The kidney organ system in Chinese Medicine is said to hold the energy of the body. As we age, the body’s energy naturally declines. This decrease in energy can be more pronounced if a woman has led a very taxing or stressful life or if she was born with less energy. The yin of the body is characterized by fluids and quiet, cool energy, while yang is movement and heat. If the yin of the body is depleted, symptoms such as hot flashes, irritability, and insomnia may arise. If the yang is depleted, a woman may experience fatigue, low back pain, and aversion to cold. It is also possible for both to be depleted and symptoms would be a mix of both yin and yang depletion.

Diet and exercise can play an important role in helping to balance and foster energy. Eating whole foods and staying away from excess sugar and caffeine help keep the body in optimum condition. Some foods that foster the yin include seaweed, cucumber, tofu, and black beans. To build yang energy, one might include walnuts, salmon, and warming herbs such as garlic or clove. Exercises such as Qigong and yoga can be helpful for moving the energy of the body, while also building and balancing it.

Keeping stress under control is essential for easing the symptoms of menopause. Making time in your life for activities that bring you joy is paramount in maintaining health and balance in the body. You can also begin a practice of meditation, journaling, or silent walks in the woods to quiet your mind and allow your spirit to become settled.

Acupuncture and herbs are extremely helpful during this transition to both help regulate body function and ease stress. To balance your body, your acupuncturist can choose acupuncture point locations and herbal formulas specifically for your condition. They can also help guide you to foods and exercises that may be helpful.

This time of transition does not need to be something to dread. In fact, it can be a time to grow as a woman. It gives you the opportunity to step back and reflect on the next phase of your life. In this change, you can become the woman you always wanted to be and use that power to help change the lives of those around you for the better. So take note of where you are, take steps to make the most out of this new life phase, and enjoy the opportunity it presents.

Susan Johnston, L.Ac., is as an acupuncturist at Milwaukee Community Acupuncture, a local clinic dedicated to providing affordable and accessible acupuncture to those in the community and beyond. More info:

Disclaimer: The information provided in this column is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice or care.

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