Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation that results from loss of ovarian follicular activity.
During menopause, women reduced secretion of the ovarian hormones of estrogen and progesterone.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is widely used and it alleviates symptoms of menopause and prevents bone loss associated with a lack of estrogen after menopause, but side effects have been reported by many studies.
Traditional Chinese medicine relieves menopausal syndromes is safer and with fewer side effects. From the clinic research, acupuncture can stimulate the synthesis of estrogen and improves autonomic nervous function, and Chinese herbs can increase the hormonal stability to reduce the syndrome of menopause.
A recent research shows women with menopausal syndromes usually receive the hormone replacement therapy. The patient either use a low dose of estrogen pill or a skin patch.
Both forms of estrogen reported fewer hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings and improvement in bone density. The result of hormone replacement therapy is increased in HDL (“good” cholesterol) and also shows a decrease in LDL (“bad” cholesterol). The higher HDL and borderline of LDL can decrease the mood symptoms. (JoAnn E Manson, 2013)
A research by Carmela Rotem & Boris Kaplan (2007) reveals that a Chinese medicine formula called Phyto-Female Complex showed a significantly superior mean reduction in menopausal symptoms than the placebo group. The ingredients of the formula can act as a partial agonist of the serotonin receptor which regulates body temperature and the other herb affects plasma lipid levels and bone mineral density. Another herb contains selective estrogen receptor- β activity.
Recent research by Zheng, li fang & Jin, Ya bei (2013) has investigated the effectiveness of combination of acupuncture with ginger-partitioned moxibustion obtain a higher total effective rate than acupuncture alone. Traditional Acupuncture can effectively regulate the functions of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, increase the hormonal stability and significantly to improve menopausal symptoms. And acupuncture not only increases the estrogen level, but also improves autonomic nervous function, such as insomnia. The ginger-partitioned moxibustion has the effect of osmosis by heat and also warm and tonify spleen and kidney and regulate thoroughfare and conception vessels.
A recent clinical trail was carried out using the combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to relieve menopausal syndromes. The acupuncture points were selected for tonify kidney and liver yin, accompanied by liver yang hyperactivity. Kun Bao Wan was given to the patient. After receiving 10 sessions of treatment, the level of FSH decreased significantly. And the contained herb can work as a selective estrogen receptor modulator. The entire patient showed a significant reduction in the number of symptoms from the pretreatment to the post treatment stage. (Azizi, Hoda & Liu, yan feng, 2011)
Menopausal Syndrome mechanism and Management
Menopause is defined as the final menstrual period. It is a part of the natural aging process, usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55.
At this age, the number of eggs in the ovaries capable of being fertilized begins to fall. The activity of the estrogen and progesterone hormones made by ovary becomes inconsistent.
Eventually, the ovaries stop producing the female sex hormones, and the ovaries no longer release any eggs, so menstruation ends permanently. Generally, menopause would last an average of 2 to 5 years.
During the hormones changes, the body feels uncomfortable and general have the symptoms include insomnia, lethargy, hot flushes, night sweating, irritability, reduced sex drive, vaginal dryness, headaches, and forgetfulness.
Treatment and Management
Management and treatment of menopausal symptoms depend on each individual woman, stage of life, relationships and general level of health and well-being.
Hormone replacement therapy (also known as HRT) effectively reduces many of the unpleasant effects of symptoms menopause by supplying estrogen.
Lifestyle changes include the regular exercise, at least 30~45 minutes on most days of the week will keep bones healthy and prevent osteoporosis; provide a feeling of relaxation and wellbeing.
Suggestion for maintaining good health at the time of menopause through diet include intake of food that contains phytoestrogen including soy. Other food such as plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains and some portions of lean meat; increase fluids and eat low-fat dairy foods; decreases caffeine, spicy food and limit alcohol.
Menopausal Syndrome and Chinese Medicine Theory
According to Chinese Medicine, the menopausal syndrome called “pre- and post-menopausal syndromes”, (Jing Duan Qian Hou Zhu Zheng). It can attribute to Kidney essence deficiency in both Yin and Yang aspects.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the kidney is responsible for the prenatal Qi, which we receive from our parents at conception. The kidney stores essence and dominates growth and development of the human body and it also controls the reproductive system in the body.
During menopause, the essence of the Kidney begins to diminish. This generally leads to a decline in both Yin and Yang aspects. When there is deficient of kidney Yin, there will be insufficient fluid to nourish the body, as a result, the body will generate too much heat, which will cause patient has symptoms of thirst, hot flushes, night sweating, and insomnia. As the kidney yang declines, people may have symptoms including lack of warmth, frequent urination, tiredness, poor libido and cold sensation in the body.
It is also common for women to have a combination of Yin and Yang deficiency. Both yin and yang energy need to be balanced and under nourishment.