by Katherine Willow ND
(Ed note: Open House Free Talks run once every month at Carp Ridge Healing House — click to check the next topic & tour of Carp Ridge Healing House)
Research blows up the myth that menopausal symptoms are a result of estrogen deficiency as our society is in the habit of assuming. They are more likely to stem from estrogen EXCESS in relation to lowered progesterone. Therefore, practitioners often recommend progesterone to women with the classic menopausal picture of hot flashes, insomnia, bone loss, mood swings, low sex drive and vaginal dryness.
However, there is a whole layer of causes underlying this hormonal imbalance and when these factors are treated it is unnecessary to need additional hormone manipulation, whether it be from herbs, bio-identical hormones or synthetic hormones, although these can be used temporarily while treating on a deeper level at the same time.
Not coincidentally, these underlying causes are the same factors that lead to PMS: liver congestion, adrenal fatigue, digestive weakness and unresolved emotional issues.
The liver is supposed to take hormones out of the bloodstream and discard them; when it is plugged up, our hormones aren’t taken out of circulation as they should be and build up.
The adrenal glands produce progesterone to help compensate for the lower levels from the ovaries as women age. When the adrenals are fatigued, they don’t produce the hormones we need and we become deficient in progesterone.
When the digestion is weak, it pulls down our energy, we don’t absorb the nutrients we need and we don’t metabolize well. This contributes to every illness or condition and is why most naturopaths will begin treatment with the digestive system.
Unresolved emotions result in tensions, organ weakness and low energy as we try to suppress them from emerging. They especially tend to show themselves at midlife, for both men and women, when there is a hormone shift and the focus turns from raising children to preparing ourselves for a healthy old age. When emotional issues demand attention at this time they are often called a “midlife crisis”, an opportunity for healing which is typically denied and distracted over in our culture. If these issues are truly dealt with, it is like a rebirth where the person can become more authentic and alive.
As mentioned in my article on PMS, none of these deep causes of imbalance are a quick fix. In fact, they are almost inevitable consequences of living the modern life. In cultures with a friendlier pace and philosophy, women do not have symptoms of menopause. They show us that this transition can be totally smooth and life-enhancing.
I feel lucky in this regard. Because I’ve had to turn to natural therapies, lifestyle change and emotional work to deal with earlier conditions, including a raging case of PMS, my body has had the chance to rebalance. This has resulted in my not having any sign of menopause at age fifty-two — except for the joy in being a grandmother! And as these things often go, it makes me more enthusiastic to share the good news and help others find their own balance.