Menopause and Dryness – Hand in Hand

Menopause Treatment for Dryness

Expert’s Name: Carrie Pierce

It’s well documented that a natural ‘drying out’ process occurs in a woman’s body as she moves through the peri menopause and Menopause process.

Fluctuating hormone levels have a role to play in this issue- and the essential fatty acids assist the body in the manufacture and distribution of crucial sex hormones, carrying molecular messages between the cells and serving to provide prostaglandin balance.

Prostaglandins are hormone-like in their nature and are understood to serve as messengers and regulators within the body cells and tissues.

So, just what the heck does all this scientific mumbo jumbo mean to Y-O-U?!

Simply put, this:

  • Peri menopause begins around the age of 35 in most women.
  • During this time of hormonal shift, skin, hair and nails begin to suffer and other worrisome and bothersome symptoms set up shop. A woman may begin to experience ongoing -and worsening- dryness issues.
    Her skin might become sensitive-with itching and flaking occurring regularly where there was no problem before.
  • Chronic dry skin stems from 2 basic causes: deficiencies in key nutrients and ongoing, uncorrected hormone imbalances.

The Essential Fatty Acids we discussed in Part One of this article series work to combat both these root causes, by feeding the skin at a cellular level, allowing skin cells to nourish and rejuvenate themselves.

Keeping your diet free from excessive sugars by eating low glycemic foods and trans fats also works to have a positive impact on overall skin health by stopping the formation of AGE’s (Advanced Glycation End products) otherwise recognized as the telltale crosshatching affect of older skin.

So how does one go about ensuring that they consume enough of the EFA’s to positively impact both skin AND hormone health?

Omegas 3 and 6 can be obtained from food sources and supplements.

Excellent sources of Omega 3s are:
Seafood/Flax seeds/raw nuts-especially walnuts/eggs and canola oil.

Excellent sources of Omega 6 are:
Borage Oil/Evening Primrose Oil- aka as : ‘the King’s Cure-all’, ( yet given its many uses for easing menstruation, hot flashes and other rather severe female-hormone- related issues, perhaps it should be known as the Queen’s Cure-all instead…) Sunflower, canola and safflower oils/eggs and soybeans.

Now that we’ve discussed why these EFAs are crucial to health and beauty-especially during Menopause- let’s look at the proper ratios:

  • Studies show a healthy balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is crucial.
  • The typical American diet has a ratio of 1:20 (Omega 3 to Omega 6), and it’s now thought this ratio should be closer to 5:1 or less.
  • Omega 6s are known to be possible inflammation-producers and as such need to be properly balanced with Omega 3’s which are shown to reduce inflammation within human tissues.
  • When Omega 6 predominates in a diet, such as a diet rich in animal fats and corn derived products, skin and hormonal issues appear to be made worse.

The bottom-line to all of this is- simply put: good skin starts with good nutrition. PERIOD.

Vaginal dryness, dry eye, joint pain and/or thinning hair, skin and brittle nails are all signs of EFA deficiency- in most cases- and should be discussed with your health care provider.

Adding the right ‘Beauty Fats’ to your diet can make all the difference- and your entire body –from head to toe will thank you!

Hot Flash Remedies

Hot Flash Remedies

It’s Hot in Here! – Treatments for Hot Flashes

Expert’s name: Elizabeth Swales

Perhaps the most common symptom of Menopause is the hot flash. Annoying and irritating, this symptom is among the least understood of all Menopausal indicators. While we may not fully understand why we have hot flashes, also known as hot flushes, we can certainly help prevent them, but in order to do this, we must first understand what menopausal hot flashes are and what we can do about them.

What is a Hot Flash?
Hot Flashes are common Menopausal symptoms consisting of a red, flushed face, momentary feelings of increased body heat, and sweating. These feelings occur when blood vessels around the surface of the skin dilate. While most women will experience hot flushes throughout menopause, the exact duration varies from woman to woman. Some women will be plagued by hot flashes throughout their lives, while others will experience this sensation for a short period of time during menopause and perimenopause.

How Can I Avoid Hot Flashes?
While there are steps that you can take to stop hot flashes, it is impossible to prevent them completely. The following natural steps will help you to avoid more severe and frequent hot flashes and night sweats.

1. Avoid Common Triggers – There are a number of common activities that can trigger menopausal hot flashes, buy avoiding the things on the following list you can help reduce the number of symptoms you experience:

  • Stress
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy Foods
  • Tight Clothing
  • Heat
  • Cigarette Smoke

2. Keep Your Room Cool – By keeping your surrounding area cool you can in turn keep your body temperature more moderate. Use fans in the afternoon and wear light clothing to keep yourself cool; especially to avoid hot flashes at night.

3. Deep Breathing Exercises – Try practicing a deep breathing exercise. Breathe in slowly and deeply for fifteen minutes to moderate your stress levels. This exercise is also effective at the onset of a hot flash.

4. Exercise Daily – Exercising regularly provides and number of health benefits including reducing the frequency and severity of night sweats.

5. Cool Pillows – Ensure that you keep your pillows at a low temperature; this will help regulate your body temperature. Did you know that there are specially designed pajamas that are made to keep you cool too?

Turn the Heat up, I’m a Little Chilly
Menopausal Hot Flashes are irritating and can be insufferable. Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent them all together, but by taking steps to prevent the onset of frequent hot flashes, you can avoid some of the frustration. By keeping a moderate body temperature and avoiding the pitfalls listed above you can start looking forward to your transformative years and engage yourself in the changes that are happening inside of you.

Vaginal Dryness

 

What Does Menopause Age and Vaginal Dryness have in Common?
Expert’s Name:  Stephanie Ackerman

Vaginal Dryness: Dry as the Sahara Desert

Warning: This column talks about an embarrassing, but important topic, vaginal dryness. Someone has to talk about it. It might as well be me. It happens to many women as we begin our menopausal journey.    Vaginal dryness!

Remember back to your first sexually arousing experience? Your juices flowed. Perhaps you even remember getting that wet feeling while reading a book, watching television or a movie, seeing a good looking person walk by. Your hormones were at their peak. They were working in overdrive. You most likely felt like this in your teens and 20s. I did.
The 30s left me less slick, but with a little manipulation and imagination, once again I was left slip sliding away. My husband still commented on how wet and hot I was.   I still felt vibrant, sexy, and knew that my vagina had the power to give my partner complete ecstasy. Even though I had young children, felt tired many nights, I was still able to feel the juices flow.
Then my 40s arrived and I hit the brakes. Having sex hurt; all of a sudden it felt like my insides were being sanded by a sandblaster. What happened to warm, wet, and juicy?   What happened to normal foreplay producing enough lubrication for intercourse to feel comfortable? It didn’t matter if the mood was right, if my husband gave me multiple orgasms, or if I used the latest power tool that does everything but wash windows. Sex hurt.  The deep innards of my vagina were dry and arid.
Why Am I Dry?
When women reach peri-menopause hormonal changes affect the amount and thickness of the vagina’s wetness.   Women may also experience itchiness or a burning sensation. When women are sexually aroused, blood flow increases to the pelvic area and creates more lubrication in the vagina.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “reduced estrogen levels are the main cause of vaginal dryness. Estrogen, a female hormone, helps keep vaginal tissue healthy by maintaining normal vaginal lubrication, tissue elasticity and acidity. These factors create a natural defense against vaginal and urinary tract infections. But, when your estrogen levels decrease, so does this natural defense, leading to a thinner, less elastic and more fragile vaginal lining. Also, you should be aware, that allergy and cold medications can lead to vaginal dryness and douching can lead to a chemical imbalance in the vagina.

Ooey, Gooey, and Gushy Lubrication

It is important for sexual relations in peri-menopausal women to find a way to make sex less painful. This means finding a way to make your vagina wet and welcome. My first piece of advice is to enjoy the shopping and buy lots of products to explore. There are products that heat up, have menthol, scents, and flavors.   If your partner uses a condom, check to make sure that any product you use doesn’t lessen the effectiveness of your birth control. Look for water based lubricants, which go well with the ph balance of the vaginal environment and will maintain the integrity of a condom.

Menopausal women can still experience their own lubrication, but it may take more time and stimulation. Be up front with your partner on what you like and how you want to be touched. Oral stimulation can have the benefit of improving arousal and the saliva greatly helps with lubrication. Communication with your partner can ease the stress of the situation and increase your connection, which in of itself can create more warmth and wetness.
Speak with your doctor about vaginal estrogen therapy. There are crèmes, rings, and pills that may help with hormonal imbalance and one of these therapies may be right for you. If you come from a family with history of breast cancer, you may not want to add estrogen therapy. Be sure to mention your history to your doctor and do your own research before considering one of these options.
Relaxation is the key. If you focus on the pain you may feel, you automatically tense up and juices won’t flow as freely. Anxiety can cause tenseness. Try to turn anxiety in to anticipation. Try visual imagery to relax you. Picture yourself in a place of relaxation, a place that makes you happy. Breathe long, deep breaths. Embrace all the sensations that your body feels while your partner explores and supports you. With a little patience, relaxation, creativity, and some added wetness you can have a juicy, wet , enjoyable sexual experience in your 40s, 50s, and beyond. Have fun experimenting.

 

Severe Headaches and Menopause

Severe Headaches and Menopause

 

Interviewer: Gail Edgell

 

Gail Edgell: What exactly are headaches? Dr. Painovich: There are several types of headaches. They can go from tension headaches to migraines, cluster headaches and headaches that we think are hormonally induced. The interesting thing about headaches is that from a Western medicine side, there are no real known causes of headaches. It’s an enigma. We know people have them. But we have not been able to figure out what is going on when people experience different types of headaches.

The good news is that there are a lot of alternatives, such as acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine that can be quite good for not only eliminating headaches but also eliminating them completely.

Gail Edgell: Are there different treatment options available based on what doctors think cause a headache — if it’s coming from a food-based issue verses a hormone-based issue, for example?

Dr. Painovich: From a Western-medicine standpoint, I don’t know if it looks at that specific of a cause. I do know that certain types of foods can trigger headaches. Let’s talk about the different types of headaches, what causes them, and go from there. It’s such a broad topic.

Tension headaches, which are the headaches that you feel in the neck, shoulders and back, are the most common. Those are usually due to tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw. Those are usually tolerable for most people and can be relieved with painkillers. But if somebody happens to have these on a daily basis, it can certainly interfere with his or her quality of life. We do not know the causal factor. But we think that it’s just those tight muscles, that inflammation that just presses on the nerves enough to cause some pain in those particular areas. Western-medicine practitioners will tell you to take a pain-reliever and do some relaxation exercises, just to try and reduce that tension in the body.

When you start to talk about migraine headaches and cluster headaches, migraines are the most common — three times more common in women. Cluster headaches, which are much less frequent, are found in the male population. Doctors think that migraines definitely have to do with the constricting and dilating of blood vessels in the head. But it is believed that people who suffer from migraine headaches tend to have more sensitive nervous systems, meaning that they are more easily triggered by foods or environmental stressors. When those things are triggered, it causes this whole kind of neurochemical reaction in the brain. Currently, what the research shows — this is the most common theory, and just a theory — is that when the nervous system gets triggered, it causes the arteries in the brain to constrict. When they constrict, they cause a large amount of serotonin to be released. Whether people know it or not, serotonin can be associated with a lot of other things such as depression, anxiety and some pain syndromes outside of headaches.

The body gets this big surge of serotonin. But the body has a system of checks and balances. This large amount of serotonin causes all these other neurotransmitters to get released, to go up there and say, “Oh, these arteries can’t be constricted. We need to let these arteries relax.” These neurochemicals cause a very fast and acute dilation of arteries in the brain. That dilation causes the swelling of these arteries, which then press on the nerves. That is what causes the migraine pain to occur. Researchers have done studies that look at levels of serotonin right before a migraine hits that show those levels can be very high. Those same levels during or after a migraine are very low. They think it’s that whole reaction that happens, these big surges and high levels to low levels, that cause the over-dilation in the brain and the arteries that cause the pain in the head.

Some premenopausal and menopausal women say, “I definitely have migraines that are associated with the start of the period or the end of the period.” That is probably due to the fluctuation of high levels of estrogen, higher levels going to lower levels. This is the same with progesterone. They think that if that is really what is causing the migraines, the migraines should actually ease as they go into menopause or are through menopause. Whether that happens or not is a whole other issue.

Gail Edgell: Getting back to migraines and cluster headaches, what is the typical form of testing? Do doctors typically prescribe synthetic medications? And if we move into a more naturopathic approach, are we actually looking at things like food allergies or environmental toxins?

Dr. Painovich: Again, from a Western-medicine standpoint, they try to put people on preventive medication, things that will decrease that sympathetic tone or that vulnerability of the nervous system. It may prevent fewer occurrences. But they also give them medication for acute occurrences because, typically, that doesn’t stop the headache from coming on. Unfortunately, these medications tend to have some unwanted side-effects.

From a Chinese-medicine standpoint, we don’t look at levels of serotonin and those sorts of things. We break it down very specifically to where the headache is. Is it in the back of the head, the top of the head, or the side of the head? When does it happen? We are looking for patterns of disharmony. We are looking for that root cause of what is causing these headaches to occur.

We rarely treat symptomatically; we look at what is going on from the root standpoint. If we figure this out, the headaches should go away, not only temporarily but for a lifetime.

We always take a holistic approach. We will certainly look at the foods and environmental toxins that you are taking in. But we also talk about exercise and life stressors. We look at everything. When we meet and consult with patients, we certainly touch on all of those things. Then we specifically get into the way that we treat. I use acupuncture and herbs to treat these headaches.

There have been several studies that have shown that acupuncture is one of the best treatment modalities. We’ve found that it is not only effective in stopping the discomfort but in reducing time away from work, family and such. When you look at the cost-effectiveness and quality of life, you find that acupuncture is one of the most cost-effective treatments that you can do for headaches. It doesn’t surprise me. When we look at a deeper level of studies that have been done on acupuncture, we know two things for sure. One is that it reduces stress and that sympathetic tone of the body. If that is calmer, people are not as susceptible to triggers. The other thing we know is that it definitely reduces or stabilizes serotoninlevels. The two big things that practitioners of Western medicine think cause these migraine headaches are two things that are directly affected in a positive way through acupuncture.

Acupuncture also releases opiates — endorphins and things like that that help reduce pain — into the system. When you take that all together, it’s really quite easy to see why acupuncture works so well in helping get rid of these chronic headache problems that people suffer.

Gail Edgell: Just to sum it up, there are three types of headaches: tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches and hormonal headaches (PMS or menopausal related). Some things people can do to lessen their frequency and severity include relaxation — perhaps yoga or meditation — exercise and examining stress levels, food allergies and environmental toxins that may trigger them. People should start looking at all of these. And if they cannot resolve the headaches on their own, they should start looking at acupuncture, which is one of the best means of treating this ailment. Did I miss anything?

Dr. Painovich: I don’t think so. It comes down to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If that doesn’t do it, seek out a professional such as an acupuncturist to get you to that next level of increased quality of life.

Note: This article is an edited transcript of an audio interview. Changes have been made.

Get Rid of Cellulite

Get Rid of Cellulite

Treatments for Cellulite
Expert’s Name:  Carrie Pierce

 

While not all cellulite treatment products such as creams and/or lotions deliver lasting results, there are some that actually can -and DO-lessen the visible appearance of cellulite. Certain ingredients such as caffeine and several key herbs and botanicals assist in this lessening effect.

Proven to benefit cellulite are:

  • Cypress: Highly astringent with a strong toning effect on body tissues. Should be avoided by pregnant women.
  • Grape Seed Extract: Causes collagen fibers to strengthen and reinforce. Improves blood vessel elasticity and circulation.
  • Dandelion: Flushes poisons and toxins out of the body and detoxes the liver and gall bladder. If you are Gluten Intolerant, dandelion is one of the highest gluten containing herbs on the planet, so beware!
  • Horse Chesnut: Improves circulation/knocks out inflammation. Proven to cause the capillaries to become more toned, reducing cellulite’s appearance.
  • Kelp: Stimulates metabolism and causes the body to release fluid accumulation. If iodine sensitive avoid using Kelp and/or other seaweed topically.
  • Milk Thistle: Detoxifies the liver.
  • Grapefruit: Very stimulating. A diuretic. Strengthens and tones tissues. Causes the body to release toxins.
  • Fennel: Very diruetic. Anti-inflammatory.
  • Green Tea: Very effective as an antioxidant.
  • Ginko Biloba: Boosts circulation and causes cholesterol within the artery walls to remain fluid and resist oxidation.
  • Juniper: Antispetic, toning and stimulating. Diuretic. This is another herb that should be avoided by pregnant women.
  • Urva Ursi: Diruetic. Stimulates the release of trapped and accumulated fluids within the body. Fights bacteria and strengthens the major organs. Not recommended for pregnant or nursing women.
  • Gotu Kola: Strengthens the underlying collagen fibers in the skin. Makes vein and capillary walls more flexible/ less prone to leaking.
  • Dry brush massage: An ancient massage technique. This massage technique stimulates the lymph system and causes toxins to be moved through the lymph nodes and eventually eliminated from the body.
  • Lymphatic drainage: Incredibly powerful for moving lymph fluid throughout the body and causing a deep, systemic detox of surrounding tissues. Lymphatic drainage uses incredibly soft stroking movements but is tremendously powerful in result. Prior to undergoing Lymphatic Drainage a detailed health analysis is necessary. If untreated infection or cancer is present, this massage technique can spread the disease process throughout the entire body. It is a very powerful and beneficial tool.
  • Exercise: Simply crucial to enhancing overall health, strength and vitality, exercise is a non-negotiable for health and beauty As the saying goes: ‘Motion is LOTION!’.
  • Diet/low glycemic and detox: Keeping blood sugar levels stable is critical to overall health and beauty- and is especially important during Menopause.

Standard protocol is to avoid a high-fat diet, sugary foods, highly caffeinated beverages, and instead focus on: fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, maintaining proper hydration, eating low glycemic index foods like legumes, brown rice, etc. and focus on getting enough of the essential fatty acids, Vitamin B Complex and Vitamin C.

First and foremost however: if you have cellulite and are peri menopausal /Menopausal, it is imperative to get -and keep- those hormones in balance!

Hormone supplementation is being shown to impact- and in some cases reverse- the aging process of the skin and also the formation/worsening of cellulite.

There is strong correlation between hormone decline and the onset of visible signs of skin aging.

So, the best course of action is to do your research, choose wisely- and then discuss your findings with your Physician!