When preparing for a big exam, a recital, or a big game few people would imagine just showing up without putting in the necessary practice and preparation. Our best performances are usually rehearsed. The dancer, athlete, scholar, or musician that gives the appearance of effortlessness has usually spent countless hours in preparation.
The same logic should to apply to health and healthy aging. Yet, far too many people are surprised to find that a poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, or lack of balance in life lead to a predictable outcome. As a nation, we have come to accept many aspects of declining health as “normal”. Far too often, we chalk lifestyle related diseases up to the effects of aging. This mainstream acceptance has diminished healthcare standards of practice, and generated several myths about human health. Menopause is rife with this sort of misinformation, confusing what is common with what is “normal”.
When hormone replacement therapy began both exercise and estrogen supplementation were credited with the ability to relieve menopausal symptoms as well as decrease bone loss and the risk of heart disease. What was not published at that time was that estrogen supplementation had the side effect of increasing the risk of breast and endometrial cancer, while diet and exercise reduce the risk of cancer in general.
"Exercise and diet - all these boring lifestyle things that will work just as well for prevention - are not profitable," quips Dr. Susan Love. A breast cancer surgeon, researcher, and author of several books on women’s health, Dr. Love insists that women in menopause are not ill, and low estrogen isn't any more a symptom of disease than it is for prepubescent girls. Rather, menopause is the hormonal reflection of puberty - and life before puberty and after menopause are natural states of being.
When the unpleasant symptoms that are commonly associated with menopause show up, we often shoot the messenger. A better approach is to ask why? We need to look at the entire body, at all the organs and glands that together create balanced function. The best option is to support the entire system - the thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, hypothalamus, liver, and ovaries form a feedback loop that determine the health of the sex hormones. A healthy and efficient digestive system is the foundation that provides the building blocks for basic function. In the end, it is not just the uterus and ovaries that influence hormone balance. It’s like a perfectly orchestrated symphony. With the right preparation and support, your menopausal drama can transform a hot mess of a production to one worthy of a standing “ova”tion.
© 2017 Kristina D. Allred, M.S.O.M., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)
M.S. Oriental Medicine
Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)