By Lauren Barrett, L.Ac, MSTOM
In Chinese Medicine, women are said to age in seven-year cycles. The seventh cycle (age 49), referred to as ‘Second Spring’, is approximately the age when a woman reaches menopause. At this stage in a woman’s life, the creative energy shifts from providing resources for a new being to conserving, sustaining, and nourishing her own body.
Menopause is a natural biological event that signifies the end of the menstrual cycle. Guided by the wisdom of the body, this natural progression helps to balance its systems. A woman reaches menopause when menstruation ceases for one full year. Leading up to menopause and one-year following is a process referred to as perimenopause. Most of the undesirable symptoms that women associate with menopause occur during this phase.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine provide a holistic approach to manage and treat signs and symptoms associated with menopause. Similar to menstrual irregularities, menopausal signs and symptoms have become normalized, but they are not something one must suffer through. While menopause is homeostatic by nature, it can exacerbate pre-existing imbalances, presenting as hot flashes and night sweats, vaginal dryness, insomnia, emotional disturbance, weight gain, and migraines.
Menopause is an event that occurs within the endocrine system, but its symptoms involve many other areas of the body. Research studies show that acupuncture affects internal regulatory systems, including the endocrine, neuroendocrine, and sympathetic nervous system.[i] This is important when it comes to treatment of menopausal symptoms because the occurrence, intensity, and severity of these symptoms involve an interaction of all three of these systems. In a randomized controlled trial, acupuncture treatment was found to significantly reduce hot flash frequency and severity as well as improve sleep, anxiety, memory, and mood compared to no treatment in menopausal women.[ii]Unlike most therapies, acupuncture addresses the entire being and helps to balance the body and mind. It was also studied to stimulate endorphin release and possibly other neurotransmitters including dopamine and serotonin, which can enhance mood. [iii]
Embrace your Second Spring! Menopause offers a challenge and a chance to transform the condition of your health and accept the beautiful process of transition. Adopting more sustainable and supportive lifestyle and dietary changes in addition to Acupuncture and Herbal medicine can significantly prevent and relieve symptoms associated with Menopause.
[i] Stener-Victorin, E., & Wu, X. (2010). Effects and mechanisms of acupuncture in the reproductive system. Autonomic Neuroscience, 157(1-2), 46-51. doi:10.1016/j.autneu.2010.03.006
[ii] Avis, N. E., Coeytaux, R. R., Isom, S., Prevette, K., & Morgan, T. (2016). Acupuncture in Menopause (AIM) Study: a Pragmatic, Randomized Controlled Trial. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 23(6), 626–637. http://doi.org/10.1097/GME.0000000000000597
[iii] Cheng, K. J. (2014). Neurobiological Mechanisms of Acupuncture for Some Common Illnesses: A Clinicians Perspective. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, 7(3), 105-114. doi:10.1016/j.jams.2013.07.008