Treating the Whole Body, Not Just Your Symptoms
The use of Chinese herbs for menopause is becoming more popular. Although there are some well known Chinese herbs for menopause, most practitioners would use a mixture of Chinese herbs based on the patient’s overall health.ph …
Dong Quai and Asian Ginseng are the most popular Chinese herbs for hot flashes and night sweats as well as some other menopause symptoms. However, there are numerous other herbs that are used in Chinese herbal medicine for women in menopause.
Dong Quai has been used for thousands of years in a wide variety of applications by Asian healers, especially to treat women’s reproductive problems and to alleviate menopausal symptoms. It has been called the female ginseng for its ability to balance the female hormone system, increase energy and balance the emotional system.
Some women report relief of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms when taking Don Quai, and most menopausal supplements contain some amount of this herb.
Asian Ginseng improves the feeling of overall well-being and fights the impact of stress on your body. Additional ginseng helps symptoms like fuzzy thinking, memory problems, and the inability to concentrate. Its energizing properties benefit the bone deep fatigue many women experience in menopause.
The active compounds in ginseng can help to regulate the body temperature. This would support the claim that ginseng can help with hot flashes. Asian Ginseng contains phytoestrogens (plant estrogen) which helps with any of the estrogen-dependent symptoms, such as vaginal dryness, itchy skin, mood swings, emotional problems etc.
How to Use Chinese Herbs for Menopause
The use of Chinese herbs for menopause is not meant for self medication because of the underlying philosophy of Chinese medicine. Only an experienced practitioner can evaluate the symptoms and mix the herbs specifically for a patient, taking the woman’s history and overall health into account.
Women with moderate symptoms may benefit from one of the standard mixes of Chinese herbs. Menopause and hot flashes are two areas where a lot of Chinese patent medicines are used. Patent medicines refer to herb combinations that have been proven over time to be beneficial.
Herbal mixtures vary depending on the woman’s specific experience. For example, if a woman suffers from hot flashes, the practitioner also wants to know about their frequency and duration, if there are heart palpitations or sweating or if the hot flashes are accompanied more by fatigue and insomnia. The answers to these questions determine the mixture of herbs.
The New Menopause Book has an excellent chapter on the use of Chinese Herbs for Menopause with several recommendations for standard mixtures of Chinese herbs.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
vs Western Medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine considers the whole body and its functions (holistic medicine) and does not usually treat just one symptom or one organ.Illnesses are viewed as an imbalance between organ systems. Symptoms are seen as a signal of the state of overall health, not as a sign of the malfunction of one organ.
Western medicine is science based and relies on the results from research. Western medicine focuses on the specific complaint that is expressed in the symptom and treats the specific underlying cause (i.e. hot flashes as a sign of estrogen deficiency).
Often this western style of treatment leads to side effects or other symptoms that again are treated without consideration of the potential health effects.
For example, a common treatment of early peri-menopause symptoms is the prescription of low estrogen birth control pills. Over time this can cause high blood pressure, migraines, and other side effects. These side effects are treated as “new” diseases with beta blockers, migraine medication etc.
No wonder so many people are taking more and more prescription medications over the years.
Chinese medicine considers the interaction of the different chemicals and their effect of the body. Typically one main herb is used, with a secondary herb to boost the effectiveness of the main herb. Additional herbs are added to counter the side effects of the other herbs and to achieve balance between the organs.
The downside of Chinese herbs for menopause is the lack of any control regarding safety and effectiveness. So it is very important to find a herbalist that is familiar with Chinese herbs and traditional Chinese medicine.
In our lifetime, we have seen many advances in the treatment of disease because of the innovation in medicine. We believe that not one approach has all the answers. Let us hope that we can use the best options from either approach.
Unless you are ready to find an experienced practitioner of Chinese Medicine, you may want to check out some proven supplements for your menopause symptoms.