Acupuncture for menopause works by mitigating problematic symptoms, and restoring balance to the body. In the United States alone, women who become menopausal is about 1.3 million typically beginning between the ages of 51 and 52. Unfortunately, in the State of Menopause Study, it was determined that 73% of women stated that their menopause was not being treated which encompassed weight gain, sleep trouble, night sweats, and hot flashes. Whether it’s sudden menopause due to surgery, early menopause developing at a younger age, or just menopause occurring as a natural part of the female aging process, acupuncture has been found by many women who are dealing with the symptoms of menopause to be helpful where traditional treatment has failed them.
Menopause is the part of a woman’s life ending her reproductive years, and multiple changes take place within her body. While it is completely natural, the symptoms of menopause affect the woman emotionally, physically, and mentally which can hinder their quality of life. Perimenopause, meaning “around menopause,” is what affects women in the years that lead up to menopause. Moving into menopause, the ovaries decrease their production of estrogen causing changes in the menstrual cycle, and with these hormonal changes comes a truck-load of symptoms.
Perimenopause/Menopause Potential Physical Symptoms:
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
Although these symptoms most often occur in a woman’s 30’s and 40’s, they can potentially show 8-10 years prior to menopause. There are some women that experience mild symptoms during this period, but others feel the significant effects of estrogen withdrawal. Menopause is a slow progression, and encompasses 3 stages.
The Menopause Stages:
- Perimenopause – estrogen begins to decrease, and the woman’s body prepares for full-blown menopause.
- Menopause – identified by 12 months in a row without a period.
- Post Menopause – the phase of life after the menopause transition.
Traditional medicine treatment for menopause is usually involving hormone replacement therapy, which is unfortunately associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, gallbladder disease, ovarian cancer, and more. Other traditional treatments include low-dose depressants, seizure medication, blood pressure medication, and vaginal estrogen. However, there are a wide array of women who find no relief from these treatments, and Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture aims to restore balance, and manage menopausal symptoms without the risk of side-effects.
Acupuncture, TCM, & Menopause
When it comes to TCM, women of all ages can benefit from regular acupuncture treatment along with herbal intervention, as well as lifestyle improvements to allow for smooth transitions throughout these issues unique to women. If acupuncture is received younger allowing for management of hormones, when menopause comes, the hope is that the symptoms won’t be much of an issue. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the majority of menopausal disorders are diagnosed with a condition of Kidney and/or Liver Yin deficiency. A lesser amount of menopausal disorders are diagnosed with a condition of Kidney Yang deficiency.
- Kidney and/or Liver Yin Deficiency – insomnia, irritability, dry eyes, hot flashes, mood swings, irregular periods, and memory loss.
- Kidney Yang Deficiency – water retention, fatigue, weight gain, low back pain, incontinence, and indigestion.
There are other conditions that can be diagnosed with menopause such as Kidney essence deficiency, Liver Qi stagnation, Blood deficiency, and uprising deficiency heat. Acupuncture treatment aids in easing the transition from perimenopause by mitigating the symptoms and utilizing herbal medicine. One of the most common symptoms, hot flashes, is amongst the most treated with acupuncture. Acupuncture helps to cool the patient down by stimulating blood vessel dilation, regulating the hypothalamus, and releasing endorphins. Obviously, there are multiple menopausal symptoms that acupuncture treatment helps to mitigate like the psychological effects of menopause, hormone imbalances, and more. A high percentage of women cope with hot flashes.
Another major part of acupuncture treatment that is vital when treating menopausal patients is the addition of lifestyle and dietary changes, to carefully picked acupuncture points.
Menopause Acupuncture Points (depending on the patient’s specific symptoms and overall health):
- UB23 – rejuvenates the Kidney system and feeds Kidney essence.
- KD6 – clears deficiency heat, calms the spirit to aid with insomnia.
- HT6 – helpful for night sweats.
- Ren6 – balances Yin and Yang, and nourishes Yin.
- DU20 – balances Yin and Yang, and clears the spirit.
- KD3 – energizes and strengthens the Kidney system and manages the uterus.
- SP6 – extremely important point in women’s health. It reinforces the Kidney and Spleen, settles damp, encourages the flow of Qi, nourishes Blood and Yin, regulates menstruation and the uterus, cools and moves Blood, calms the mind, relieves pain, and helps urination.
- KD7 – beneficial for night sweats and hot flashes.
Menopause Beneficial Foods to Mitigate Symptoms:
- Isoflavones, which are plant estrogens, are said to potentially reduce hot flashes, but soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas provide the best plant-based estrogens.
- Carbs – Grains, beans (black beans, kidney beans, lima beans, mung beans)
- Fluids – water, chamomile, lemon balm, rose hip, hibiscus, mint, and chrysanthemum teas.
- Proteins – chicken, rabbit, duck, fish and seafood (not shrimp/prawns), beef, duck eggs.
- Nuts & Seeds – ground or crushed flaxseeds, sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, walnuts, coconut (includes coconut milk, coconut oil, and unsweetened fresh or dried coconut)
- Vegetables – celery, seaweed, cucumber, daikon radish, dandelion greens, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower.
- Fruits – lemon, cantaloupe, mulberry, grapefruit, pears, apples, watermelon, persimmons, and apricots.