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Menopause in the Light of Traditional Chinese Medicine
In Chinese medicine, menopause is often referred to as the 'second spring' because this is when a woman enters into her power years. This is a difficult concept to wrap around a westerner’s mind, since a woman outgrows her value as her beauty fades in our media driven culture. But traditionally, a woman’s value, influence, and power grows as she matures with wisdom. The matriarch once held a high position of respect and reverence.

Menopause signifies the end of a woman's menstrual cycle, but not of her value and beauty. The majority of women end their menstruation between the late 40ies to mid 50ies. But uncomfortable symptoms of peri-menopause or pre-menopause can begin as early as forty and can last beyond fifty-five years of age. Women who undergo a hysterectomy or who have their ovaries removed experience menopausal symptoms immediately.

While menopause signifies the beginning of the winter season for bearing children, it has traditionally marked a new spring for women. Their time then is freed-up for creative endeavors, personal growth, financial ventures, and travel. With its close understanding of the female body, Oriental medicine has always addressed the special needs of women throughout their lives. Menopause, in particular, is an area in which Oriental Medicine shines, helping to relieve uncomfortable symptoms that accompany the onset of menopause.

Menopause from an Asian Perspective
According to TCM theory, menopause occurs when a woman's body begins to preserve Blood and energy in order to sustain her through her later years. The Kidney is the organ system in Oriental medicine that is viewed as the root of reproduction, vitality and longevity. Menopause signifies the depletion of the fertility, where Essence - stored within the Kidneys, is depleted. Blood and Essence from the Kidneys are conserved and circled through the body to nourish the woman's spirit and extend her longevity. Thus, in Chinese medicine, menopause is seen as true change in life from mother to enlightened and wise being.

Signs of Peri- and Pre-Menopause
A woman may notice that her menstrual cycle changes and become irregular. Breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, mood swings, sweets cravings, and decreased energy can all be part of the peri-menopause experience. As the actual menopause, the cessation of menstruation grows nearer, the symptoms may become more extreme. Hot flashes, or "hot flushes", night sweats, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, headaches, insomnia, and moodiness may aggravate the transition.
In Chinese medicine, menopause is considered a normal transition that should pass quickly and smoothly. Modern women experience so much stress throughout their adult lives that our endocrine systems become un-balanced, and menopause becomes yet another source of stress.

Lifestyle and Dietary Instructions in Menopause

# Menopausal women are encouraged to maintain a healthy weight and to follow a diet with a high content of protein, whole foods, and vegetables to stabilize blood sugar.

# Some foods may exacerbate hot flashes or increase mood swings.

# Limiting the intake of dairy products, red meats, alcohol, sugar, spicy foods, and caffeine can help for some people, to decrease hot flashes.

# Menopausal women must also nourish their bodies with foods rich in calcium, omega 3 fatty acids (Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio = 4:1), greens, and protein.

# Eating a whole food, organic diet is recommended at every stage of life.

# Lastly, try to eliminate stress, tension and anxiety. Even better yet, learn techniques, such as meditation, tai qi, or yoga, to cope with stress. Thus you can diminish the effects that it has on your body and mind.