By Sarah A LoBisco, ND
This week I posted Menopause the Musical: A Holistic Doctor’s Interview with Megan Cavanagh (Earth Mother) on my homepage. Megan is known for her role in A League of Her Own, among many other films.
I made note of how integrative health perspectives may help with the hormonal shifts portrayed in the musical. I spoke in the past how various natural support tools exist that can assist with alleviating and modulating the hormonal symptoms of hot flashes, irregular periods, and mood issues.
Below are some more abstracts on integrative medicine and hormonal health that support the use of natural remedies (emphasis mine):
Ginger for Menstrual Pain
A randomized controlled sample with students using 500mg of ginger root vs. placebo showed positive results for alleviating their menstrual pain:
CONCLUSION: Treatment of primary dysmenorrhea in students with ginger for 5 days had a statistically significant effect on relieving intensity and duration of pain.
Rahnama P, Montazeri A, Huseini HF, Kianbakht S, Naseri M. Effect of Zingiber officinale R. rhizomes (ginger) on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhea: a placebo randomized trial (abstract). BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012 Jul 10;12:92. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-92.
Acupuncture for Anxiety/Depression in Pregnancy
A review of six randomized control trials concluded the potential mood benefits of acupuncture in women who experience anxiety and depression during pregnancy:
Conclusions: With respect to six reviewed studies, there is high-level evidence to support the use of acupuncture for treating major depressive disorder in pregnancy
David P. Sniezek and Imran J. Siddiqui. Medical Acupuncture. Acupuncture for Treating Anxiety and Depression in Women: A Clinical Systematic Review. June 2013, 25(3): 164-172. doi:10.1089/acu.2012.0900. http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/acu.2012.0900
Hot Flashes Common: Culture’s Perspective a Factor
I wrote on my homepage how cultural variations exist with menopause symptoms. In a report of a sample of women who were sent questionnaires, the authors concluded:
More than half of white, black and Native American women reported the symptoms, compared to 30 percent or fewer of Asian and Hispanic women.
What’s the solution here?
Consider how our culture affects your hormones and relieve the stress of a perfect image!
Doyle, K. Hot Flashes Common Even Before Menopause .Reuters (reuters.com). June 18, 2013. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/19/us-hot-flashes-idUSBRE95I0S720130619
Hot flashes and Food
Lack of quality studies exists on how foods can have an effect on hot flashes (Vasomotor symptoms or VMS). .
Conclusions: For certainty of any effect of dietary phytoestrogens or fiber on the prevention of incident VMS, a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-masked trial with sufficient numbers of women in different racial/ethnic, menopausal status, and metabolic groups over years of follow-up is required, but our results suggest that a clinically significant or large effect is improbable.
Soy could be a player:
Still, food could have a powerful impact on hormonal balance based on the type of food and how a woman metabolizes it. The excerpt on soy below explains how phytoestrogens can have different effects based on one’s own specific biochemistry. For example, there has been evidence that a good gut microbiome is necessary to fully extract the beneficial soy phytoestrogens (think probiotics):
However, the ultimate effects of phytoestrogens on the estrogen pathway are likely to be determined by a variety of factors, including the following: their relative affinity for α and β estrogen receptors and effects on the conformation of these receptors; their agonist or antagonist properties related to their concentrations and to circulating levels of estradiol; and the different phytoestrogens (isoflavones, lignans, and coumestrol) that each modify the metabolism and bioavailability of endogenous estrogen by mechanisms that either increase or decrease such bioavailability.[11-18]
In one early trial, postmenopausal women who received soy supplements (containing isoflavones) or wheat flour (containing enterolactones) had a statistically significant reduction in VMS (40% in the soy group and 25% in the wheat group), although the rates of decline did not differ significantly (partly because of the small sample size). Most,[3-6] but not all, subsequent randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trials of soy or soy isoflavones for VMS have observed similar reductions in VMS. In contrast, trials that included perimenopausal women have not observed lower rates of VMS in relation to greater phytoestrogen administration.[20-23]
Gold, Ellen B. PhD, Leung, Katherine MPH, Crawford, Sybil L. PhD, Huang, Mei-Hua DrPH, Waetjen, L. Elaine MD, Greendale, Gail A. MD. Phytoestrogen and Fiber Intakes in Relation to Incident Vasomotor Symptoms: Results From the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Menopause. 2013;20(3):305-314. Reported on Medscape: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/780273?src=nl_crb
The Power of Flax for Heart Health
Wait, the studies do exist!! A fiber food has heart healthy effects, which are a concern as women enter menopause!
Back in 2004, the journal Atherosclerosis published a study in hamsters revealed that flaxseed might provide an ideal solution for aging women, who following the failure of their ovarian reserve in the mid-40’s to late 50’s, begin to develop adverse changes in their blood lipids and increased atherosclerotic lesions.
What the researchers found by using an animal model was that dietary flaxseed consumption was as effective estrogen (estradiol) for preventing some of the adverse blood lipid changes associated with the ‘change of life,‘ and the furthermore, flaxseed was capable of preventing fatty streak area and the incidence of lesions that were also induced by hormone deficiency. [ii]
This finding is consistent with previously reported research that indicates that flaxseed has significant estrogen-like activity, however, without the well-known cancer risks associated with the use of estradiol (E2). [See: Confirmed: Flaxseed Contains ‘Estrogens’ That Regress Cancer.]
How Does Flaxseed’s Cardiovascular Benefits Work?
Like any complex food, flaxseed has multiple modes of action. The three primary beneficial compounds are:
• Omega-3: Known as alpha-linoleic acid, this dietary fatty acid, which is relatively rare in the Western diet, is essential to human metabolism (meaning, we can’t produce it ourselves), and has been the subject of thousands of studies, many of which indicate its value in reducing risk factors for heart disease.
• Soluble Fiber: Flaxseed is a rich source of soluble fiber, one of the benefits of which is to that it binds to bile acids (which include oxidized cholesterol and other fat-soluble waste products like toxic hormone metabolites, and other bile constituents) and help to pull them out of the body.
• Lignan: Lignans are a class of plant compounds with both estrogen-like and antioxidant properties. The major lignan found in flaxseed is known as secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, is metabolized into enterodia
l and enterolactone within the human body, which can affect a wide range of bodily tissues, including the reproductive and the cardiovascular systems.
Ji, S. Evidence That Flaxseed Is A Heart Disease Reversing Food. GreenMedInfo.com. June 17, 2013. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/evidence-flaxseed-heart-disease-reversing-food?utm_source=GreenMedInfo+Weekly&utm_campaign=21c608d047-Greenmedinfo&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_62bb7ef31e-21c608d047-86825417
The Power of the Brain on Hot Flashes
There was some bias in sampling and selection in this study, but hypnosis may be helpful for hot flashes. This indicates the mind-body-stress connection hormone harmony:
Conclusions. Compared with structured-attention control, clinical hypnosis results in significant reductions in self-reported and physiologically measured hot flashes and hot flash scores in postmenopausal women.
Gary R. Elkins, PhD, William I. Fisher, MA, Aimee K. Johnson, MA, Janet S. Carpenter, PhD, RN, FAAN, Timothy Z. Keith, PhD. Clinical Hypnosis in the Treatment of Postmenopausal Hot Flashes: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Menopause. 2013;20(3):291-298. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/780272?src=nl_crb&uac=146852BY
When Will FMP Be?
Want to know when your final menstrual period (FMP) will be? A new model may help.
Ask your doctors about measuring your FSH and Estradiol levels:
As the FMP approached, the ratio of current FSH level to the reference value became larger, and the ratio of current E2 level to the reference value became smaller. The NTx ratio also became larger over time, but the changes were small, and it was discarded from the final model. The magnitude of change in the FSH ratio was “substantially” larger than the changes in the E2 or NTx ratios.
Norra MacReady. Time of Final Menstrual Period Predicted by New Model. Medscape Medical News. Mar 26, 2013. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/781470?src=nl_crb&uac=146852BY
I hope you enjoyed this blog and you gained some insight on how natural support remedies exist for hormonal balance!
Furthermore, laughter is a great medicine! It helps balance your cortisol and progesterone ratio, so be sure to visit my blog to see how you canwin free tickets to see Menopause the Musical!