Apr 082013

menopauseMenopause is a transition period that may last from several months up to a few years. Misinformation about this topic instills fear in many women as they enter their forties and begin to think about menopause. A good example of this is Western medicine’s focuses on menopause as a disease that must be treated with medication. Women are told “if they don’t take their estrogen pills”, they will lose their femininity and their value to society.

How unfortunate this is. Menopause is a natural time of transformation in which women enter into. A time they can value their bodies, viewing menopause as an opportunity for new growth, experiences and a time they can embrace their inner self. It is a natural state which is only the end of fertility, the end of menstruation, and not the end of sexuality or creativity.

Luckily for many women who instinctively know better, studies have proven that there are extreme health risks with synthetic hormone replacement. To these wise women, menopause is a time of freedom from the menstrual cycle and the onset of wisdom and power. And it’s no coincidence that these women, who refuse to view themselves as “diseased,” experience far fewer (and sometimes none) of the problems usually associated with this change of life.

The highest number of women ever to reach menopause on our planet is occurring now because women are living longer. As more women enter this time of change valuing their bodies, viewing menopause as an opportunity for new growth, and embracing their inner wisdom, the negative and false images of menopause will fade.

Emotions and attitude play a significant part in the physical response to menopause. Therefore, for those women who have not experienced menopause yet, it helps to understand the changes that will place. These changes can start several years before menopause actually sets in, with erratic periods or unusually heavy or light bleeding. This phase is called perimenopause or premenopause and provides an opportunity to prepare emotionally and physically for the larger transition to come. During premenopause, the ovaries no longer ovulate on a regular basis. This is the basis for the cycle changes and the beginning of symptoms such as hot flashes. Menopause itself usually begins in the mid-forties to early fifties. When the ovaries stop producing significant amounts of estrogen and progesterone, the menstrual cycle ceases; a woman who has had no periods for a year is said to be menopausal.

Women react to menopause in various ways. Some women enjoy the change, while others experience hot flashes, vaginal dryness, heart palpitations, and mood swings. For those women who are healthy, active, and well nourished, their adrenal glands will usually respond to menopause by creating precursor hormones such as pregnenolone and DHEA, which are then converted into estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. In taking natural steps to encourage this process, it is likely that women can avoid harsh and possibly dangerous medications altogether.

Hopefully, the days when routinely prescribing synthetic estrogen, synthetic progesterone, or both, will be over. Several studies, including the well-publicized Women’s Health Initiative Study, which involved more than 16,000 women, concluded that the “benefits did not outweigh the risks” of using the combination of synthetic estrogen (Premarin) and synthetic progesterone (Provera). A significant increased incidence of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease stopped this study short of its completion.

There are times when menopause can really be considered a disorder or a serious problem. If menopause arrives for unnatural reasons, such as from anorexia, bulimia, or extremely intense exercise, the root cause must be treated so that the cycle returns. When menopause is brought about by a hysterectomy or removal of the ovaries, natural hormonal replacement therapy may be necessary to counter the sudden depletion of estrogen and progesterone and the resulting bone loss.

Holistic health practitioners believe that every woman’s menopausal experience must be addressed individually. Optimally, it is best to get a hormone test done to find out which hormone imbalances you may have. Saliva testing is a good option. For women with mild to moderate symptoms of menopause, it is generally recommended the use of diet, exercise, and nutritional supplements, especially herbal and homeopathic remedies. The beauty of this approach is that these natural supplements balance the hormones that are already present in the body. In addition, the use of natural progesterone appears to be very safe and effective when a stronger approach is needed. Likewise, precursor hormones, such as pregnenolone and DHEA, may be helpful.

For women with extreme symptoms that are unresponsive to nutritional supplements, the use of natural hormone replacement may be required. This is particularly true of women who had their ovaries removed at an early age or for others with moderate to severe osteoporosis. This is, of course, best done with a practitioner who is knowledgeable in natural hormones.


  • Cessation of periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Vaginal dryness and thinning
  • Night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Memory problems and difficulty concentrating
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Reduced libido
  • Bladder problems, including incontinence
  • Mood swings
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Skin changes (acne, facial hair, scalp hair loss)
  • Root Causes of Early Menopause
  • Eating disorders
  • Extraordinarily intense exercise or physical training
  • Ovarian disease
  • Surgical removal of the ovaries, usually as part of a hysterectomy
  • Hypo-functioning adrenal glands


If you begin to incorporate these suggestions into your diet at the onset of perimenopause, you will likely experience far fewer problems when menopause begins in earnest.

Recommended Food

Eat a diet loaded with plant foods, especially whole grains, legumes, fresh vegetables, and fruits. These contain phytosterols, naturally occurring nutrients that have a hormone-balancing effect. You’ll also get the fiber you need to keep your heart healthy and the nutrients that will encourage a strong, vibrant response to menopause.

Japanese women have significantly fewer problems during menopause, thanks to their consumption of soybeans, tofu, miso, and flaxseeds, all of which are excellent sources of phytoestrogens. Add these to your diet, unless you have a soy allergy.

Essential fatty acids protect the heart and promote smooth, radiant skin. Good sources are cold-water fish like salmon, cod, and tuna, as well as flaxseeds.

Vitamin E regulates estrogen production. Make sure to include cold-pressed nut and seed oils in your diet, perhaps as a dressing for a green salad.

Consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds daily. They contain phytonutrients that have estrogen-balancing properties and that lower cholesterol. Take each serving with 10 ounces of water.

Drink a glass of clean quality water every two waking hours. You’ll flush out toxins and replace fluid you may have lost during hot flashes.

Food to Avoid

To protect yourself against heart disease, reduce red meat and other sources of saturated fat from your diet. Eat hormone-free animal products to avoid causing a hormone imbalance.

Carbonated drinks deplete calcium from your body, and caffeine and alcoholic drinks aggravate hot flashes, so eliminate all of these from your diet.

NOTE: For every synthetic hormone prescription, there exists a natural version that is identical to what is found in your body.

Other Recommendations

Remember that one year without a single period must pass before menopause can officially be declared. If a full year has not passed since your last cycle, it’s possible that you could still get pregnant. Take appropriate precautions.

Don’t smoke. Smoking is linked to premature menopause, as well as to heart disease.

Regular exercise improves general health, as well as many symptoms of menopause. Non-impact workouts like swimming and cycling are good for your cardiovascular system, but to prevent bone loss you’ll need to include weight-bearing exercise as well. Walking is one of the best all-over conditioners, and weight lifting has been shown to increase bone density and vitality even for people in their nineties.

If you feel you are experiencing premenopausal symptoms, it is recommended to find a qualified holistic health practitioner in your area. They will be able to help you through this time of transition helping to make your experiences as natural and rewarding as possible.

Haven’t Started a Healthier Lifestyle Yet?

If you are ready to start your complete journey towards better health and don’t know where to begin, Craig’s new book “Dietary and Lifestyle Choices and their Effects on the Body” is filled with information on the basics and gives you a reality check on life. Find out more here at http://craigvelardi.com/book/