Natural Remedies For Menopause
By Marilee Nelson |
Have you ever heard your mother, grandmother, or great grandmother talk about menopause? Chances are your mother dealt with symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain and more, but your grandmother or great grandmother didn’t.
Despite popular opinion, it’s not just because generations past didn’t talk about it. It’s because menopause, or more accurately, the symptoms associated with menopause, are a relatively new problem for modern, Westernized women.
Menopausal Symptoms Are A Relatively New Thing
For example, if you look back at traditional cultures throughout the East and West, many of them either had no word for menopause or saw it as an empowering time in a woman’s life. For example, to this day the Japanese have no word for hot flashes and the I-Kung tribe of Africa, as noted by Dr. Christiane Northrup in her book “The Wisdom of Menopause”, has no word for menopause. In other native cultures, the absence of a period signaled a time in a woman’s life when she became more powerful, intuitive, and wise.
In other words, menopausal symptoms are the result of a modern Westernized lifestyle. This should come as a great relief to women everywhere because it means you have control over this phase in your life! It doesn’t have to be something you dread. And if you’re already in the middle of it (or fast-approaching) there are plenty of things you can do right now to remove the causes or “triggers” behind modern menopausal symptoms.
The 4 Phases Of Menopause
Before we get into the natural remedies for menopause, it’s important to understand the phases our bodies go through along the journey.
Not always included in the phases of menopause because it is associated with the beginning of puberty through to the first symptoms associated with menopause (perimenopause). But nonetheless, it’s all part of the same cycle.
If you experience unwanted symptoms around your period, such as cramps, moodiness, headaches, food cravings, etc. that can be an indication of hormonal imbalance and/or a sluggish liver. Both contribute to menopausal symptoms later on. Sadly, girls and young women are often put on the pill to ease these symptoms, which can create more problems down the road.
This happens 3 to 5 years before menopause begins, typically in your 40s or 50s. At this time, ovarian reserve starts to reduce, resulting in large swings in estrogen and progesterone. Some women report a change in their cycle, such as lighter periods or more irregular periods. Perimenopausal symptoms can vary from extremely disruptive to unnoticeable or even beneficial, such as shorter periods. Again, much of this has to do with your lifestyle and level of toxicity/body burden.
You’re officially considered “menopausal” after 12 consecutive months without a period. Per the Mayo Clinic, the average age of menopause is 51 but that can vary significantly based on many individual factors, including your age when you started menstruating (the earlier you start, often the earlier you finish).
The most common symptoms include mood swings, trouble sleeping, hot flashes, weight gain, vaginal dryness, bladder weakness, osteoporosis, heart disease, and loss of libido.
These symptoms are nearly all blamed on lack of estrogen. And although it’s true that your estrogen reserves diminish during menopause, that should not cause you months or years of misery (as has been proven by the experiences of happy menopausal women over thousands of years). If not properly addressed, many of these symptoms can carry on into the next phase.
Starts immediately after menopause and can include some, or all of the above symptoms. No wonder women dread aging! But don't fret, we're here to offer natural remedies for this stage of life.
Natural Remedies For Menopause Symptoms
It’s important to understand that menopausal symptoms, or any hormonal-related symptoms, boil down to two main causal factors: hormonal imbalance and toxicity issues (physical, mental, and emotional).
How do we fix these imbalances? We unburden our bodies of hormone-disruptors by tossing the toxins, eating food without harmful chemicals, and learning to use natural remedies to rid ourselves of stored toxins in the liver, reproductive organs, and other detoxification pathways.
We mention the liver specifically because it is our primary organ of detoxification on which all other detox pathways rely, and because it’s responsible for the break-down and conjugation of hormones. Thus, if our livers are congested (which is extremely common) we are setting ourselves up for menstrual and menopausal symptoms.
This is an important part of the puzzle that’s often overlooked in other approaches to menopause, PMS, and more, so do not underestimate the power of a healthy liver.
Remove Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals From Your Life
Most hormone-balancing advice is aimed at taking supplements, losing weight, and changing your diet, and those are very important and effective solutions that we’ll cover coming up. However, if you don’t address the very sneaky elephant in the room, endocrine-disruptive toxins, you’ll be spinning your wheels with limited results.
What types of toxins are we talking about? Things like fragrance, phthalates, plastics, pesticides, herbicides,, PFASs, VOCs, SVOCs, and harmful chemicals found in cleaning products, processed foods, air fresheners, skin care products, makeup, clothing, building materials, mattresses, laundry detergents, cookware, and even “natural”, “organic”, or “green” foods and household products.
If this list of toxins sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. It’s actually not that complicated to remove them and/or reduce exposure very quickly. To help, we’ve created a free #TossTheToxins Online Course that covers everything you need to know about ridding your home of these poisons. We’ve designed a simple step-by-step system to make it extremely simple and time-efficient, including advice on how to replace your favorite products with safer, non-endocrine-disruptive brands.
I must stress how important this step is in avoiding menopausal or other menstrual/premenstrual symptoms. You cannot truly achieve hormonal balance and detoxify your liver if you continue to be exposed to the same toxins. It’s root-cause resolution 101: remove the trigger and cause, and you resolve the symptoms for good. So please, do not skip this step!
Detoxify Using Food As Medicine
Now that you have those endocrine-disrupting toxins out of your life (or at least are working on it), it makes logical sense to begin removing stored toxins from your organs. The best place to start is by using food as medicine.
You’ve already gotten a head start by Tossing The Toxins in your pantry, fridge and kitchen.
Foods rich in insoluble fiber up-regulate detoxification
Now, you can take it a step further by eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods that support hormonal balance and enhance and up-regulate detoxification. Adding insoluble fiber in the form of colorful vegetables, eating the rainbow, is a good place to start and has no downsides. Some of the best ones to eat regularly include:
- Artichokes are wonderful for the liver and gallbladder.
- Dark leafy greens contain bioavailable calcium and support liver detoxification.
- Red, yellow, and orange root vegetables reduce inflammation and stabilize hormones. For example, raw carrot salad helps prevent estrogen dominance. Sweet potatoes help boost progesterone levels.
- Cruciferous vegetables support detoxification and hormonal balance. Broccoli sprouts are a superfood for estrogen dominance and liver detoxification.
- Fresh green juices are nutrient-packed and excellent for whole-body detox.
- Apples are amazing to cleanse the digestive tract and support the liver.
- Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and pomegranates for antioxidants, heart, and liver support.
- Citrus fruits are great for the liver and contain calcium and vitamin C. Try drinking lemon water for an easy liver tonic.
- Prebiotic-rich foods such as onions, leeks, green bananas, and mushrooms feed healthy gut flora.
Foods rich in soluble fiber help normalize and balance hormonal health
One of the most efficient ways to get rid of toxins and eliminate recycling hormones is to eat beans, the richest source of soluble fiber. Hormones in the bile are caught in the net of soluble fiber and are completely eliminated through bowel movements so that the hormones do not reenter the bloodstream.
What about soy?
There is evidence that eating soy can help ease symptoms of menopause due to naturally-occuring phyto-estrogens.
If you’d like to try incorporating some soy into your diet, we recommend buying ONLY 100% organic, non-GMO-verified whole, fermented soy products like tempeh, miso, or naturally-brewed soy sauce.
Good quality fermented soy and beans were part of my food as medicine prescription when I had endometriosis and was told I would need to go on dialysis and eventually have a kidney transplant. All symptoms of hormone disruption were quickly resolved. If you want to avoid soy altogether, you can absolutely skip this and still have an easy menopause.
Learn more in: What Traditional Foods Can Teach Us About Healthier Eating.
Make Regular Detoxification A Part Of Your Self Care Routine
Although we can greatly reduce our exposure to endocrine-disrupting toxins by creating healthier homes, eating real food, filtering our water and air, we can’t avoid toxins all the time.
Thus, regular detoxification practices are useful to assist keeping our hormonal and detoxification systems healthy.
Some of our favorite ways to detox regularly include:
- Detox baths
- Infrared saunas
- Regular lymphatic system detox like rebounding, sitting on a yoga ball, dry brushing, etc.
- Mind detox practices such as expressive writing, prayer, and the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
- Regular movement, which helps break down excess hormones and stress hormones
- Deep breathing
- Getting plenty of quality sleep
- Spending time outdoors
- Opening the windows at home twice daily to remove airborne allergens, chemicals and pathogens
- Doing a digital detox when possible
The Big Takeaway: Menopause Should Be A Time Of Empowerment, Not A Time To Dread
You may not have believed it before reading this (and you may still be skeptical, which is understandable!), but it is possible to have a symptom-free, empowering, and even enjoyable menopause season.
I can attest to this personally, as I enjoyed a symptom-free menopause... even after horrendously painful periods in my teens and twenties. I’ve also helped countless clients do the same. I know it is possible.
Regardless of your age or what stage of menopause you’re in, the best way to a smooth change of life is to start tossing the toxins. I hope this article has inspired you to take back control of your health in a new way, and maybe even to look forward to this powerful time in your life.
Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.