Acupuncture is an effective treatment option for regulating hormones and can help: Hormone-related moods such as depression, anxiety, irritability, and anger Improve night sweats and insomnia so that you sleep better and wake up feeling more rested Improve energy and mental clarity during the day Regulate the menstrual cycle to correct symptoms of PMS and PMDD, painful
A hormonal imbalance occurs when there is too much estrogen relative to progesterone in a woman's body, also referred to as estrogen dominance. In a normal cycle, estrogen and progesterone hormones work together to maintain a woman’s menstrual cycle, each playing an important role. When a hormone balance occurs and estrogen levels are too high, it
Sharon came in complaining about chronic fatigue and low energy. The 58-year-old had been experiencing menopausal symptoms for the past three years and reported having trouble falling and staying asleep. She was also having night sweats and hot flashes that interfered with her sleep.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
At Sharon’s first appointment, she reported feeling fatigue, weakness in the limbs, and memory loss. She also reported digestive issues that included bloating, belching, gas in the stomach, and heartburn. Her tongue was slightly purple, red in the center, and had no coating. The tongue is an accurate indicator of what is going on internally, which is why acupuncturist's use it as a diagnostic tool
Sharon’s symptoms indicated she was suffering from a kidney yin deficiency. The kidneys play an important role in our vitality and as they decline, signs of aging begin to appear including greying hair, memory loss, poor eyesight, and aging skin. If kidney functioning is particularly low we may also experience lower back pain and weak limbs. Digestive issues are an indication of poor spleen functioning, which can also contribute to weakened kidneys.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
I started Sharon at twice weekly acupuncture treatments in order to get her symptoms under control so she could enjoy a better night’s sleep. Sharon experienced improvement after just a few sessions and after five sessions her night sweats and hot flashes decreased by 50%.
Because of her progress, I reduced her treatments to once a week while we continued to work on her sleep issues and hot flashes. With each treatment, Sharon continued to improve and her symptoms resolved. She was sleeping better, sweating less, and had fewer hot flashes. She reported feeling more energetic and said her digestive issues were improving with each acupuncture treatment.
After 10 treatments, Sharon was nearly back to normal so we reduced her sessions to twice a month and then to once a month to maintain her progress and prevent her symptoms from returning. Eventually, when the menopausal stage is complete, her symptoms will resolve fully.
Enjoying Life’s New Stages
I see Sharon every two months and she continues to do well. When she does experience sweating and hot flashes now, it is minor and resolves quickly. Best of all, she is sleeping normally and her energy levels are great.
Sharon is a great example of how acupuncture can reduce menopausal symptoms by helping the body reduce stress and ensure the various organs and systems are functioning optimally so that one can experience a comfortable transition through this natural stage of life.
Wondering if acupuncture can help you achieve better health? Visit Okanagan Acupuncture Centre at our downtown Kelowna location or contact us to find out more!
Perimenopause, also called the menopausal transition, is the natural shift in a woman’s reproductive cycle toward menopause, or ceasing of the cycle. When a woman has gone through 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, she is considered to have reached menopause, and the perimenopause period is over.
Women start perimenopause at different ages, and may start noticing changes in the 40s or even as early as the 30s. During the menopausal transition, the body's production of estrogen and progesterone fluctuates. These hormonal fluctuations are at the root of the changes experienced during perimenopause. These changes may include menstrual irregularity and menopause-like symptoms.
With perimenopause, a woman’s cycle may become irregular, becoming shorter, longer, heavier or lighter, or more or less than 28 days apart. About 65-75% of women experience hot flashes. Sleeping problems are also common, often due to hot flashes or night sweats. Some women experience mood changes such as mood swings, irritability or depression. Fertility decreases, there may be changes in sexual function and desire, and vaginal and bladder problems may also arise such as infections or urinary incontinence. Other health problems that become a concern with declining estrogen levels are loss of bone and higher risk of osteoporosis, and changing cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease.
Treatment for perimenopause symptoms will typically involve hormone therapy, oral contraceptives, or progestin therapy. Hormone therapy is less commonly recommended today because of its associated health risks, and contraceptives or progestin therapy may not effectively resolve symptoms for all women.
Acupuncture: A Safe and Effective Approach
Acupuncture is an excellent option for ensuring a healthy transition through this period of a woman’s life and is of benefit to many of the common symptoms. Menopause is a natural stage in life and the healthier a woman is overall, the healthier and smoother this transition will be. For this reason, acupuncturists don’t look at perimenopause as problematic, but rather view the symptoms and their severity as indicators of a woman’s health and possible internal imbalances that may be at the root of these symptoms. A woman in ideal health would transition through menopause with no discomfort at all (and indeed, many women do). However for many women, factors such as diet, stress, overwork, emotional upset, and exercise habits can all contribute to health, stress levels, and the overall experience during the menopause transition.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
An acupuncturist’s first task then, is to determine which internal imbalances are causing the symptoms that a woman is experiencing. Symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, irritability and depression, nervousness and anxiety, fatigue, heart palpitations, digestive issues, joint pain or stiffness, osteoporosis, loss of sex drive, and vaginal dryness are all signs that the body is not functioning at optimum health and that imbalances need to be corrected.With menopause and aging, the organs most involved are the kidneys and the liver. The kidney functioning naturally begins to decline as we age, and the liver is involved in regulating the menstrual cycle as well as balancing our emotions.
Acupuncture helps to move the body’s energy in its proper directions and amounts and to encourage these organs to function properly again. It has a regulating effect on the body, and promotes normal functioning of the various organs and systems at work in our body. By this principle, it can help to regulate hormone functioning, our sleep cycles, our energy, our digestion, and our moods. It is also a great stress reliever.
Promoting A Healthy Transition
With regular treatments we can begin to see a reduction in the severity of perimenopause symptoms and in the frequency that they are experienced, a sign that a healthy balance is being regained. Acupuncture can help with many of the symptoms of perimenopause, from hot flashes and night sweats to moods, energy, and stress, to digestive issues and joint pain. It is an excellent therapy for helping to ensure a healthy transition into menopause, embracing the changes that this new stage of life brings.
James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna. He can be reached at www.okanaganacupuncture.com.
Menopause is the transitional phase of a woman’s life when menstrual function ceases, which typically spans a 2-5 year period. During this time, hormonal levels in the body are fluctuating, as estrogen and progesterone levels gradually decline and the body responds by producing higher than normal levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The main symptoms likely to be experienced (with varying degrees of severity) are headaches, tiredness, lethargy, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, depression, insomnia, inability to concentrate, hot flashes, and sweating.
Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 48 and 55, but menopause is a gradual physiological process that really begins with birth, and the cycle of gradual maturation and decline of a woman’s reproductive system. This certainly agrees with theChinese medicine (TCM) view of menopause, in which menopause is not viewed as a syndrome so much as a normal transition in a woman’s life that is influenced greatly by a woman’s lifestyle, emotional stress, experiences, and dietary habits.
There are many characteristics of the modern western lifestyle that can lead to increased menopausal symptoms. Emotional stress is an extremely important cause of menopausal problems, as worry, anxiety and fear all weaken the kidneys and lead to yin deficiency. Considering the increased stress posed on women through work and family in the past 40-50 years, it is not uncommon for many women to deal with ongoing overwork and stress both physical and emotional, all of which contribute to a woman’s experience during menopause. Other impacts of a fast-paced lifestyle can be poor or rushed meals, and not having the time or energy for regular exercise or stress release.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, menopausal symptoms are generally due to a decline of the kidneys as we age, often as either a deficiency of kidney-yin, kidney-yang, or both, each of which will present its own set of symptoms. Sweating in the middle of the night indicates a kidney yin deficiency, whereas sweating in the early morning upon waking indicates a kidney yang deficiency. A kidney yang deficiency will also be accompanied by a feeling of cold, especially in the feet, whereas a kidney yin deficiency will be accompanied by a feeling of heat, particularly in the chest, the palms of the hands, and the soles of the feet.
A kidney yin or yang deficiency pattern may also be combined with other patterns of imbalance, which might involve the liver, a stagnation of qi (energy), deficiency of blood. These imbalances can contribute to other menopausal symptoms: hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, depression, nervousness and anxiety, fatigue, palpitations, nausea, diarrhea and constipation, and stiffness, bloating, cramps and joint pain, among other symptoms.
Acupuncture offers a more natural approach to managing menopausal symptoms. Whereas some types of menopausal treatments may have negative side-effects, acupuncture can help to manage symptoms without any negative impact on health, indeed by bringing the body into a more balanced state of functioning, health can actually be improved. Acupuncture can help to relieve menopausal symptoms to make this transition a much more enjoyable and comfortable time of a woman’s life.
James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.
Insomnia is one of the most common medical complaints- more than one-third of adults have insomnia at one time or another, while 10-15% suffer from chronic insomnia. With insomnia, a person usually awakes feeling unrefreshed, over-fatigued and has a hard time concentrating during the day. This lack of sleep can sap energy levels and moods, as well as health, work performance, and quality of life. Insomnia can cause daytime fatigue or sleepiness, as well as irritability, depression or anxiety, a loss in concentration and focus on tasks, increased errors or accidents, tension headaches and gastro-intestinal problems. It is a problem that takes a huge toll on a person’s health and well-being.
From a Western medical perspective, insomnia can be caused by stress, anxiety, or depression, medications, caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol, eating too much late in the evening, work schedule, changes in your environment or routine, poor sleep habits, and a variety of underlying medical conditions. Insomnia can also be a result of aging or changes in health or lifestyle. Typical treatment may include making changes to sleeping habits, relaxation techniques, light therapy, behavioural therapy, and in difficult cases, medications.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), insomnia covers a number of different sleep-related problems such as an inability to fall asleep easily, waking up during the night, sleeping restlessly, waking up early in the morning, and dream-disturbed sleep. As with Western medicine, the amount and quality of sleep depend on the state of the mind. Because the organ most closely related to the mind is the heart, this organ is often affected in cases of insomnia. If the heart organ is healthy, the mind will be grounded and sleep will be sound; if the heart is deficient or if it is being affected by other internal pathogenic factors in the body, the mind becomes agitated and sleep is affected.
There are seven major factors that lead to insomnia in Chinese medicine: overexertion and worry, overwork (both mental and physical and working long hours without adequate rest), anger-related emotions (including frustration, resentment, and irritation), constitutional weakness that leads to timid character, irregular diet, childbirth, and internal heat in the body. The most important differentiation for insomnia is whether it is due to an excess or deficiency in the body. Once this differentiation is made, there are a number of different patterns that lead to insomnia. Although there are many different patterns that lead to insomnia, treatment will always have the end goal of calming the mind because it is at the root of insomnia, but how this is achieved varies greatly according to the pattern presented.
It is this very specific diagnosis that makes Chinese medicine so effective for insomnia. Treatment will focus on improving quality of sleep but also accompanying symptoms according to the type of insomnia. Thus acupuncture can treat insomnia that consists of restless sleep combined with nightmares, irritability, headaches and dizziness. But it can also treat insomnia that involves difficulty falling asleep, combined with tiredness, poor appetite, anxiety, poor memory and palpitations. Or it can treat insomnia that involves waking up during the night combined with excessive dreaming, talking or walking in one’s sleep, irritability, sore, dry eyes, dry skin and hair, and dizziness. Each of these is considered insomnia, yet each represents a very different type of insomnia and the way that we approach treatment is also different.
In this way, acupuncture uses the body’s own energy to help it to rebalance and return to its natural rhythm, to correct the underlying cause of insomnia and prevent future problems from re-occurring.
James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, Kelowna, BC.