Ask an elderly woman for advice on the menopause
Men and young ladies have no personal experience of the menopause.
Long before I experienced the change of life, as it was called, I made a point of talking to older ladies about their menopausal experiences. Should this condition be viewed as something that needs serious medical treatment? Women get it into their heads that the inevitable changeover from being a breeding machine to becoming an independent free spirit is not a happy event.
They buy into a mindset of fear and horror at not being able to make oestrogen anymore. But cows and horses also have a finite amount of eggs and when they run out of them it is perfectly natural to experience a change of life without replacing hormones. I decided not to worry about the side effects and rather get on with the process of change. Throughout history women survived the menopause without replacing oestrogen and I was determined to do likewise.
When a problem crops up, we seek a solution. But why make a problem out of something that is perfectly natural? It makes no sense then, to seek a solution that causes more problems! So when you experience hot flashes, why take a medication? I found out that the rise in temperature we call a hot flash (or hot flush) is an essential part of the process of transformation.
Horsing around with hormones
Some of my older friends were already taking pills made of horse urine. Why? They believed that natural symptoms of the change of life needed to be medically corrected. In other words; instead of letting go of the extra oestrogen load at the end of their ovulating years they were persuaded to maintain a childbearing body (a caterpillar) that gets PMS (premenstrual tension) and still menstruates after the age of 60. The drug Premarin is short for: pregnant mare’s urine.
Premarin is a drug that is made out of the urine of a pregnant mare
The hapless pregnant mare is strapped into a sling and immobilized throughout the day so her urine that is rich in oestrogen can be collected and made into pills. Is this fair to horses? No. Is this good for women? I asked my friend for the package insert for the Premarin she was taking to prevent her hot flashes. The tablets are classed as conjugated estrogens.
As part of my pre menopausal survey I attended an open lecture about hormone replacement at a university. To my horror I heard a distinguished professor of gynaecology recommend lifelong HRT (supplementation with oestrogen and progestin.) He said a sixty year old woman on HRT would benefit by saving her bones, even if it meant she would still menstruate. To me that sounded like a joke. When your supply of eggs is spent; you are turning grey and already have grandchildren I was certainly not willing to be in a body that still menstruates. One also has to consider the side effects of taking such a drug. Here are some of the common and not so common side effects of taking this form of HRT:
Side effects of avoiding hot flashes with conjugated estrogens like Premarin According to internet references, some of the more severe side effects include: Enlarged breasts, breast tenderness, lumps in the breast, fluid retention in the legs, feet and hands, weight gain, bronchitis, inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines, depression, brain disorders, fibroids, blood clotting, heart attack, strokes, cancer or the ovaries, uterus, breast tumours
Less severe side effects are listed as: migraine headache, discharges plus inflammation and infection of the vagina, painful periods, joint pain, dizziness, mood changes.
The great oestrogen upset and the progesterone fixation
Some of my friends taking HRT said they had problems such as bloating, moodiness and serious weight gain. Our elderly neighbour who had taken her HRT faithfully for many years actually had osteoporosis! She was then given a sugar-coated fluoride pill called “Ossiplex Retard” to harden her bones. (I know what you are thinking!) I remember how she had to walk up and down the road past our house after taking the pill because she said she got "heartburn". She died a few years later for "reasons unknown." Here is an extract from the package insert:
Ossiplex Retard (sugar-coated sodium fluoride pills)
"KNOWN SYMPTOMS OF OVERDOSAGE AND PARTICULARS OF ITS TREATMENT:
Sodium fluoride is corrosive; when taken by mouth in quantities in excess of about 250 mg it causes salivation, nausea and vomiting, epigastric pain and diarrhoea. Large doses cause thirst, perspiration, paralysis, muscular weakness and convulsions, followed by respiratory and cardiac failure; there may be renal failure; death may occur within 2-4 hours."
If you do not read package inserts or even bother to correct your diet or take herbal alternatives you are an easy target for smooth talk - right into a carefully engineered hormonal trap. I was then invited to a tea party where a lady was promoting a new and very "natural" alternative to HRT. The cream is made of extracts from the wild Mexican Yam. This is a toxic plant, so one cannot ingest it as a tincture or tablet. But never mind, she told us the cream would stop the hot flashes, save our bones and deliver us from breast cancer. This product was being sold by housewives as well as therapists without a prescription at the time. It was later exposed for being a concoction that included Progesterone and is now only available from qualified doctors.
I was still suspicious about replacing anything I could make myself.
I still needed some more professional advice - call it reassurance about other natural alternatives to HRT. So I attended a lecture by Doctor Marilyn Grenville when she visited our country. She is the author of the book: Natural Alternatives to HRT. She came across as a lady who had really done her homework. When it came to her opinion about taking oestrogen or progesterone she said: “Use it or lose it.” To her it was a case of: if you take them, you will no longer be able to make them in the long-term. She explained that the body gets used to an external supply of the hormone and then the signal to generate the hormone shuts down.
That then results in a dependence on the supply of hormones from an external source, such as HRT. My ears were really pricking up! The cause of a hormonal shortfall, she explained is often just a nutrient deficiency, such as boron or a few vitamins and essential fatty acids. These are easy enough to correct. I bought her book and began to study it and share this welcome news with my friends. But still, some of them preferred to use progesterone cream and were not interested in asking any questions.
My first penny drops – men don’t have ovaries but they have enough oestrogen
How come men make plenty of oestrogen throughout their lives, yet they have no ovaries and they don’t ovulate? I dug up some interesting facts about where oestrogen comes from. Not only does it from ovaries, but also directly from testosterone in the form of estradiol! Men also need oestrogen and if their metabolic pathways are disrupted, they too can experience some surprising side effects including bloating and weight gain and thyroid disruption. Their breasts can enlarge and become more prone to breast cancer. Blood clots can also cause heart attacks and strokes when they reach the brain. All these problems are akin to side effects of taking some forms of HRT.
Diet affects our hormones and so I quit the gluten to good effect
With symptoms of suspected adrenal and thyroid problems still bugging me, I went on a gluten-free diet. It made a lot of sense to me to first eliminate the causes of hormonal problems and I was shocked to find out the my bread eating habit could have damaged my thyroid and adrenals. I wanted to be as fit and healthy as possible for the dreaded changeover. After quitting the bread I noticed a big improvement in my energy levels. I think it is important to prepare well in advance for the menopause or as Leslie Kenton calls it: “The Passage to Freedom.” Her book outlines some effective detoxification protocols. I started to use her juicing recipes and ate more fresh fruit, salads and vegetables. I was having a great flush out of toxins!
If menopause is inevitable one may as well take the rite of passage in a clean, strong and healthy body. I detoxed, scrubbed and rinsed myself inside out.
My menopausal mind-set especially, needed to be cleared of trashy belief systems and fine-tuned to resonate only to God-given absolutes. My Mother firmly told us that women in our family just do not get hot flushes (flashes, if you prefer – they are equally uncomfortable.) My Grandmother was a fine example of a caterpillar that had emerged from the menopausal chrysalis as a graceful butterfly. So was my Mother, so why not me?
I learn from Asian women who eat seaweed and fermented foods
What could older post-menopausal women teach me? I was eager to find out more about how other races and even animals coped without medical treatment during their transition into full-blown maturity. Are soya beans really the mystical Asian way through the menopausal torture tunnel? (What about the new GM monster bean? All forms of soya beans let off trypsin inhibitors from their outer skins. These chemicals allow cells to proliferate freely. This was scary news, because I had found about that the action of trypsin is essential for controlling cancer.)
Chinese and Japanese people do not eat very much soya. They may eat a chunk or two of tofu and other products derived from soya. but not even every day. But they do eat a lot of fermented soya products and when combined with a lot of iodine from the seaweed they eat it could be the real reason we think they sail through the menopause. Iodine and fermented foods we call probiotic can actually reduce levels of harmful oestrogen like estradiol and break it down into the more beneficial formslike 2-methoxyoestrogen. In this form it is used to both treat and prevent cancer. This put my mind at ease.
I shut down my computer for the night and suddenly I felt hot all over. Uh oh!
I rode the hot flashes, I investigated the night sweats
I followed the path of least resistance when the hot flashes arrived. I noticed that they came and went within a few minutes. (People need to know that they do not last forever! I wish somebody had told me so.) Somehow I felt they were good to have and to experience. I scoured the internet again. If the hot signals keep coming then some doctors say you need to boost testosterone to activate the release or aromatisation of testosterone into estrogen. A woman only needs 1% of the testosterone compared to that of a man. I found a herb that could help to boost testosterone levels in a natural way. I bought a Tribulus Terrestis herbal tincture from the health shop and my husband had a good laugh! He began taking it as well.
Night sweats are also a problem. One can fan away a hot flush or splash your face with hot water but oh my, to wake up in a pool of sweat is another story. But the joke was that my husband was equally hot and sweaty. This usually happened at about 3am. But why do men also get night sweats at the same time? I found the answer when I heard somebody talk about the body clock and our meridians. They said that when all the Qi or energy is directed to the liver and gallstones at that time, it releases a lot of heat. Soon after, you feel chilly because then the Qi goes to the lungs. So true! We wake up once the sheets have been flapped and flung off only to cover up because it gets cold an hour later.
A liver flush helped to clear the backlog of hormones and cool the night sweats
We both did a series of liver and gallbladder flushes. Out tumbled a pile of gallstones and other rubbish and the night sweats were no longer so intense. After all, they say the liver is important, especially during the menopause because it has to break down excess (bad) oestrogen. If the liver is congested then the hormones are pipelined back into circulation. This can happen with progesterone, testosterone and oestrogen, making one saturated with a potentially harmful cocktail of hormones that can reassemble into lethal pro-cancerous cell proliferators.
By now I was no longer frantic about the hot flashes. I observed them and tolerated them, even though I was taking Black Cohosh tincture to boost my progesterone levels. (To boost hormone release with this precursor as opposed to rubbing hormones onto myself.) But still that surge of heat was still coming over. I was curious. Was it trying to tell me something? I had lost a few of my friends. They had died of cancer. Did they have something in common? They had all insisted on combining their treatment with progesterone cream to the day they departed. Once again I was baffled.
The hottest news about cancer and hyperthermia
Fortunately a granny who can use the internet has all sorts of information at her fingertips. I read about a very successful treatment for cancer using heat treatment. The affected areas of the cancer patient were exposed to very high temperatures, combined with spells of intense sauna treatments to increase the overall body temperature. Artificially induced hot flashes? Aha! I was hot on the trail now. Would this be an explanation at last, about why the body heats up during the menopause? Hyperthermia or raising the body temperature is also a natural way of dealing with certain infections.
Chronic infections like fibromyalgia, Lyme disease or what we call chronic fatigue syndrome tend to affect people with lower than usual basal body temperatures more severely. I read about a man who was plagued by such conditions who went on a raw diet. The result was that he raised his basal body temperature and the bugs went off in a huff. It is interesting that oestrogen can overwhelm thyroid hormones and slow down, or should we say cool down the body. This makes an attractive breeding ground for a number of moulds, fungi (mushrooms) and mycotoxins.
I had to learn to accept and love the heat - that was my turning point
I somehow felt that it was wrong to resist hot flushes. This is a total about turn. But looking at the logic of how the body is put together and planned, there must be a good reason to have cycles of hyperthermia. I could now appreciate the way this could serve as an automatic bug zapping device. The hotter I got the more I could shake off microscopic intruders. That night I decided to hang in there and not fan myself cool by flapping the sheets. I decided to ride out the heat waves. What you resist will persist and thus the opposite also applies. I gave thanks for the heat, observed it and appreciated the free service - free hyperthermia. The hot spells only lasted a few minutes. Each time I drank a whole glass of water and observed myself. It was not so terrible. Sometimes I would wake up and find my water was still next to my bed, untouched. I slept all night. It was midsummer and my husband had turned on our bedroom fan because he was feeling the heat. It was not me, for a change.
There is light at the end of the hot tunnel
After a few more weeks the intense heating abated. I stepped out of my cocoon. I was free from the burden of menopausal mythology. Just like my ride on the couch potato, I had decided to get inside the hot flash and ride the heat wave.
I felt blooming marvellous.
My hormones have rearranged themselves without the need for any replacements and I must say it is good to be in a renewed body. I am now a graceful, self-propelling winged entity as opposed to a grounded caterpillar. Menopause = metamorphosis. So why resist or try to interfere with the change of life?
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