Hormonal shifts are a natural part of life. Hormonal fluctuations keep us in a state of dynamic balance throughout the maturation and aging process.
Menopause is the natural end to a woman’s menstruation cycle. It can start as early as 40 years old or as late as 60. Although menopause is a natural stage in a woman’s life, mainstream medicine treats it like a kind disease which requires some sort of treatment.
In the view of Traditional Oriental Medicine, however, menopause is a natural process or transitional period when women transition out of the phase of life where reproduction is possible. It marks the end of a long, slow process that begins when the ovaries begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone. It is a normal part of life.
Treatment with Traditional Japanese Medicine
Traditional Japanese Medicine (TJM) takes a holistic approach to health and, as such, does not regard menopause as a disease. Rather, it is seen as a natural physiological transition in a woman’s life. According to the philosophy of TJM, menopause is presumed to be a period in a woman’s life when she makes a gradual transition from being primarily a mother into a wise elder of the community – and, eventually, an enlightened being.
From the TJM point of view, menopause occurs when a woman’s body begins to preserve blood and energy, which is needed to sustain her vitality and provide the maximum available nourishment to her organs, especially her kidneys. In Traditional Oriental/Japanese Medicine, the kidney is thought to be the organ which is the root of life and longevity. Blood and energy from the kidneys are conserved and cycled throughout the body to nourish the woman’s spirit and extend her longevity.
During the perimenopausal (i.e. early stage) and menopausal periods, women commonly report hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, anxiety, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness and similar issues. According to TJM, these menopausal symptoms are generally due to a decline of the kidney energy in either its Yin or Yang aspect (that is to say, too much or too little.) Within the basic menopausal pathology there can be many variations, and the type, frequency, and severity of each woman’s symptoms can differ widely, depending on her body’s constitution.
The same is believed to be true in Western medicine. The sharp decrease in estrogen that comes with menopause acts specifically on the estrogen receptors that are distributed throughout the body. These receptors perform specific genetic transcriptional regulation functions for each organ or tissue, which have, in turn, a more diverse effect on downstream target genes. Menopausal symptoms can, therefore, produce a wide variety of symptoms.
[su_spoiler title=”＊Note：Regarding Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)”]A meta-analysis of the worldwide epidemiological evidence regarding the risk of breast cancer associated with HRT was recently published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. It included the following statement, explaining how different types of estrogen or progestogen, as well as different formulations, doses, and durations, may play a role in HRT’s effects on breast tissue: [su_quote]If these associations are largely causal, then for women of average weight in developed countries, 5 years of Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT), starting at age 50 years, would increase breast cancer incidence at ages 50–69 years by about one in every 50 users of oestrogen plus daily progestagen preparations; one in every 70 users of oestrogen plus intermittent progestagen preparations; and one in every 200 users of oestrogen-only preparations. The corresponding excesses from 10 years of MHT would be about twice as great. In western countries there have been about 20 million breast cancers diagnosed since 1990, of which about 1 million would have been caused by MHT use.[/su_quote][/su_spoiler]
The case of Madame A
A 45 year-old woman visited me for treatment, complaining of several menopausal symptoms that had lasted more than a year. She reported the associated symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats and warmness in her upper body part.
By palpating various energy nodes, I got a sense of deficiency at four specific acupoints in her abdomen and feet. In my experience, deficiencies at these acupoints often indicates disharmony in the kidney system – especially deficiency of the Kidney Essence, which leads to Yang hyperactivity when analyzed from the TJM point of view. Menopause symptoms regarded in TJM as being rooted in disharmony of the kidney system can be related to the western biomedical view of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovary (HPO) axis. During the menopausal transition, characteristic changes in the HPO axis result from decreased ovarian feedback of hormones inhibin and estradiol, and are manifested primarily as elevations in follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Some Chinese research has developed the idea that acupuncture signals initiated at the acupoints are transferred to the brain through the nervous pathway and, as such, modulate multiple neurotransmitter systems. If so, the subsequent output signaling cascades could correct the dysfunctions of the HPO axis through neural regulation.
With this in mind, I devoted Madame A’s initial sessions to the regulation of her HPO axis and the rebalancing of her overall kidney system. After two sessions, her symptoms were mostly in remission. Since then, she continues to have regular treatments with me once every two months and has maintained good physical and emotional condition.
Every woman is unique and each of their bodies continue to change in their own individual way. Hence, there is no single way to ensure the best possible quality of life during the period of perimenopause and beyond.
Acupuncture has been used to treat menopausal symptoms for thousands of years. It is known to modulate the neurotransmitter function in the CNS, promote homeostasis and modulate hormonal disturbance, and has shown excellent results in easing the corresponding symptoms.
If you suffer from several menopausal symptoms but have been frustrated in your search for a safe and effective therapy, this might be a good time for you to consider Traditional Japanese Acupuncture.
– References –
- What are the mechanisms that cause menopause? Japan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Type and timing of menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of the worldwide epidemiological evidence; VOLUME 394, ISSUE 10204, P1159-1168, SEPTEMBER 28, 2019 the LANCET
- Electro-Acupuncture Affects the Activity of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovary Axis in Female Rat; Hongmei Zhu, Sha Nan, Chuanguang Suo, Qiulin Zhang, Manli Hu, Rong Chen, Juan Wan, Meng Li, Jianguo Chen, and Mingxing Ding