This article was originally written for Sanandi.com
A woman’s lifetime is about cycles. When she is young, it is the cycle of the sun, when she starts having a regular period it’s the cycle of the moon, and when she moves into menopause she is moving into the cycle of days.
She connects to the wisdoms of her years, sits with the memories of her childbearing years, and lives each of her days to the fullest—with a new identity as she moves into life’s third stage.
Yes, this stage is menopause.
For a lot of women it can be a blessing—but for some it comes with symptoms that can last for years, especially during the transitory time from the years childbearing years to the years of the sage.
What is Menopause?
Menopause, in the simplest terms, is the time of a woman’s life where her ovaries are no longer functional. It isn’t something that just happens overnight but it’s a gradual process that can take years to happen, especially if a woman is resistant to the change (either emotionally or with prescribed medicines like hormone replacement therapy). The transitory period of time is called peri-menopause, and this is typically the time where women experience symptoms associated with menopause.
We think of this as something for older women, but it can start as early as the late thirties or as late as the mid sixties. Because people are living longer and often having children later (50 is the new 30, you know) this third cycle of a woman’s life is often the longest. It’s a time of harvest—to reap what life has sown—or a time to channel the creativity of a motherhood, innate in every woman regardless of her stage in life, into a new kind of fruit bearing maneuver.
But first, we have to move with grace into this last act. We address symptoms head on, with the strength and softness of womanhood.
The list of symptoms is common, easily found, and not exhaustible because every woman is different. Some of the most often experienced are:
- Dry skin
- Weight Gain
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
Whether a woman’s set of symptoms is common or unique to her, they are always going to start from one issue: hormone imbalance.
Hormones and Menopause
During childbearing years, the driving hormone in a woman’s body is estrogen. It’s balanced by progesterone and other androgens, affected by stress and the environment a woman is in (physical and emotional), but it is the main feminine hormone—the big E, if you will.
Estrogen is produced predominantly in the ovaries (and somewhat the adrenal glands) so when a woman’s ovaries start to lose function, her estrogen levels drop… dramatically.
Similar to the PMS symptoms when the estrogen levels drop just after ovulation, menopause symptoms are caused by the same thing. The difference is that a woman’s estrogen levels during menopause don’t rise again. They fall and fall until the body produces very little, where the female body finds a new type balance with low levels of estrogen.
The journey from a cycle dominated by estrogen to balance within a low-estrogen function is the perimenopause path that can cause symptoms. But, as with all disease, if we know the cause we can help find a way to mitigate symptoms and allow the body to heal and balance itself.
Find Your Balance Again
Finding a comfortable hormonal balance is the best way to stop the perimenopause and menopause symptoms in their tracks.
Before we go into the ways that we suggest diet and lifestyle changes, we would like to bring in a disclaimer. For years women were being prescribed Hormone-Replacement Therapy. While a woman’s body is her own fortress, this therapy has been linked to cancers associated with too much estrogen in the body. It named for what it does, which essentially means that it extends the childbearing years of a woman past when her body is ready to embark on a new path.
Remember that though this cycle can be a challenge, it is also very natural and healthy. Feel into it, notice and accept the changes that your body is going through.
What you put into your body will always be the number one driver of your health. It’s no different for menopause. While eating a whole foods diet without refined sugar is great for every kind of health, try tailoring your diet to a hormone-balancing focus with a few of these tips:
- Curb the caffeine and alcohol. These can have a lasting effect on your body.
- Eat more nuts and seeds, especially almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.
- Bump up consumption of avocado and fish—they’re rich with fatty acids and good fats.
- Eat more foods rich in tryptophan: organic cottage cheese, oats, legumes and fish, that help you get a good night’s sleep.
- Foods high in magnesium—pears, grapes, dates, legumes and nuts—are key to staying relaxed, energized, and keeping your mood stable.
- Eat more whole grains: quinoa, brown rice and oats.
One of the most common issues with aging is the dry skin. Women produce less hormones, which means they are likely to produce less of the sebum and collagen that keeps the skin supple and young looking.
- Use an anti-aging routine with an organic cleanser and a product like the Deep Nourishing Cream to keep your skin feeling beautiful on the outside.
- Always use sun protection. This is always important but aging skin is more prone to UV damage.
- Eat berries and other fruits and veggies that are full of antioxidants. These keep your skin glowing and protected from the inside.
- Drink a half gallon of water every day. We’re made of about 80% water, to keep your skin beautiful and plump, replenish it.
- Eat good fats. Women in menopause aren’t producing a lot of sebum (oil) so replenish with good fats like avocados, ghee, and olive oil.
Every healthy lifestyle includes a bit of exercise. A low impact exerise can help with the weight gain, stiff joints, and emotional swings that come with menopause.
- Try yoga—even a calming restorative session once a week gets your blood moving and your endorphins flooding for a calming effect with a good mood.
- Walk—in nature if you can. Get your body moving and connect with the things you see and hear when you’re outside breathing fresh air.
- Hula hoop—this one seems a little strange because hooping is a fun game for young kids. But you can purchase a heavier hoop (stay around 1-2 pounds to start) and practice slowly moving your hips. It brings blood to the pelvis area in a new way and it’s a low impact back massage. Plus, it’s great for your abs (and it’s really fun once you get the hang of it).
Hurray! It’s time for our herbal allies. We’ll keep the list short this time—there are a lot of herbs out there that are helpful for symptoms, but these are our go-tos.
Shatavari. This ally is specific for the peri and menopausal woman. It’s a cooling herb that is also an adaptogen so not only will it help cool you down with daily use, it is nourishing and helps the body handle stress over time. It has a hormonal balancing effect and can boosts libido and provides extra energy. The best, and easiest, way to take shatavari is in a powder form. Add it to your smoothie, your tea, your oatmeal, anything—just a tablespoon a day keeps the hot flashes at bay.
Black Cohosh. Solid research from several studies shows the native American plant known as black cohosh acts as an effective alternative to addressing menopause symptoms. Some women respond very quickly, in fact, with a reduction of conditions like vaginal dryness, heart palpitations and hot flashes. Black cohosh in combination with St. John’s Wort can broaden therapeutic effects and relieve lower-back pain and mood swings.
These two herbs, in conjunction with sage, maca, horsetail, and ashwagandha are in the extract that we create on the farm just to help ease the transition.
Our Fem-Menopause Extract
The Fem-Menopause Extract is incredible for every part of the journey from child-bearer to wise woman. It balances hormones with the ayurvedic herbs shatavari and ashwagandha and reduces symptoms with the black cohosh and the sage.
It’s easy to carry with you—and if you work, it’s worth leaving one at work and one at home—for those days when your moods swing a bit wider or the hot flashes have been coming in droves.
The use is easy too—just put 20-30 drops in a glass of water up to three times a day. Start slowly to find the balance that’s just right for your body. Some women need it only once a day just before bed to reduce insomnia and hot flashes. Others take it in the morning and evening to help get through their days without the irritability and their nights without the anxiety. Still others find that three times a day reduces their symptoms to almost none.
Remember that this is a journey towards a natural balance in your body. Pay attention to the little things, it’s possible that once you’ve been on an extract for some time, your body has found its way to a path of balance and comfort and you can slowly taper yourself away from needing the extract on an everyday basis to control symptoms.
Have you tried the Fem-Menopause Extract? Let us know your routine in the comments below!