Can Acupuncture Treat Perimenopause?
by Kath Bartlett, LAc
Kath Bartlett, LAc practices
at the Asheville Center for Chinese Medicine, located in
downtown Asheville. Kath is a nationally certified Diplomate
of Acupuncture and Herbology. She received a Master's of
Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from the prestigious,
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. She has completed
advanced studies in the classic Chinese medical texts of
Herbology and Oriental medical theory with Dr. Min Fan,
formally of Beijing University. Kath can be contacted for
acupuncture treatments or herbal and dietary consultations
at Asheville Center for Chinese Medicine at 828/258-2777
Interestingly, it is women in Western countries who are
troubled with perimenopausal complaints. Women in Asian
and under-developed countries are not plagued with symptoms,
occurring before and around the cessation of menstr-uation.
Why is this so?
According to Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) thought, perimenopausal
complaints are due to the modern stressors that women in Western
societies live with throughout their lives. Additionally, it is
thought that the phyto-estrogens in the soy based diet Asian women
consume protect these women from experiencing menopausal symptoms.
Perimenopausal symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, dizziness,
ear-ringing, heart palpitations, migraine headaches, mood changes,
including anxiety and irritability, fatigue, poor memory, and
low back ache. These symptoms may occur before, during or after
menopause, and duration of symptoms varies from woman to woman.
In TCM thought, menopause normally occurs after age 49, however,
many Western women experience what Western MD's term 'premature
menopause'. In these cases, perimenopausal symptoms, such as hot
flashes and night sweats may be experienced by women in their
mid 30's to early 40's. In Western society, these symptoms are
considered a normal and unavoidable part of menopause; however,
this belief is untrue. The absence of these symptoms in women
in Asian and under developed nations shows that menopause can
and should occur asymptomatically. Like PMS and dysmenorrhea (painful
menstruation, or menstrual cramping), Perimenopausal Syndrome
is well addressed with Chinese Medicine.
TCM thought feels that menopausal symptoms are a result of how
a woman has lived her life up to the time of menopause. In Western
societies, as women have entered the workforce they are encountering
new work stresses previously only incurred by men. Western medical
studies have shown that women in Western societies have a higher
rate of diseases previously thought to be typically 'male', such
as stroke, heart attack and hypertension. These women are now
balancing careers, child-rearing responsibilities and managing
household finances, creating more stress and leading to a face-paced,
How does this stress contribute to Perimenopausal Syndrome, and
what can women do to prevent occurrence and alleviate these symptoms?
The TCM explanation for menopausal complaints gets rather complicated.
Simply put, when one is stressed, s/he feels tense and tightens
up. Qi (pronounced chee, which means vital, life energy) stagnates,
and does not circulate properly in the body. When stress causes
the emotions to become constrained, mood changes occur, such as
depression, anger and irritability. Migraine headaches, hot flashes,
night sweats, dizziness and ear ringing are seen as Qi rising
to the head. Pain is due to Qi not moving freely in the affected
area, such as the low back. When Qi is deficient, it cannot nourish
the brain, causing poor memory. Deficiency of Qi also causes fatigue:
there is simply not enough Qi, or energy, for daily activity.
Perimenopausal Syndrome is well treated with Chinese Medicine.
TCM practitioners utilize acupuncture and herbs to nourish and
rectify the proper circulation of Qi, thereby reducing and eliminating
presenting symptoms. Dietary changes, such as increasing consumption
of soy products can also help relieve perimenopausal complaints.
Additionally, implementing lifestyle changes to reduce stress
with activities such as yoga, meditation and walking will contribute
to the reduction of symptoms. As Perimenopausal Syndrome is seen
as an accumulation of how a woman has lived her life up to the
cessation of menstruation, dietary and lifestyle changes are especially
important for disease prevention in younger women.
If you have a question you would like answered about acupuncture
or Chinese herbal medicine, please e-mail Kath Bartlett, L. Ac.
at kath at UCLAlumni dot net, or call Asheville Center of Chinese
Medicine (828) 258-2777.