By Lawrence Wilson, MD
© October 2011, The Center For Development
Menopause is the cessation of the menstrual period in women. It occurs when the female hormone levels drop below a critical value needed to produce the normal cycle of ovulation and menstruation. It is not due to running out of eggs, as some authorities claim.
It occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 in many women. At times, it occurs much earlier. This is a sign of ill health in almost all cases. Occasionally it is due to stress, such as deficient diets, vegetarian diets, or too much exercise.
Menopause is not a disease and should not cause symptoms. If a woman has symptoms, they can be corrected with a nutritional balancing program in most cases rather easily and quickly. DO NOT USE hormone replacement therapy or products such as Amberen. These are toxic and somewhat dangerous in all cases. These remedies are discussed in more detail below.
Menopause should occur without difficulties if the adrenal and thyroid glands function normally. In fact, it should be a time of great joy, ease and even relief for women who have been concerned with unwanted pregnancy or perhaps plagued by symptoms related to premenstrual tension, heavy menstrual bleeding, or other symptoms.
However, if the adrenal and thyroid glands are not functioning well, many women experience hot flashes, fatigue, irritability, depression and perhaps some vaginal dryness at menopause. Also, their risk for osteoporosis and some cancers increases.
None of these symptoms or diseases are inevitable, and they can all be handled without using toxic or dangerous hormones, drugs, or herbal products such as Amberen, black cohosh, and other herbal products.
CAUSES OF MENOPAUSAL SYMPTOMS
The hormonal theory. One way to understand menopausal symptoms is that imbalances in the thyroid and adrenal glands interact with lowered hormone levels. This occurs most often when the ovaries cease producing the same amount of ovarian hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.
Normally, the adrenal glands should increase or balance the lower ovarian production and there should be no symptoms. If they do not do this, then symptoms arise.
Said differently, the inappropriate responses of the adrenal and thyroid glands to the changes in the ovarian hormones are what cause the vast majority of menopausal symptoms.
This means that correcting thyroid and adrenal imbalances can go a long way to preventing and correcting menopausal symptoms.
The stress theory. A second way to look at menopausal symptoms is that a hormonal change causes added stress on the body. The woman's glandular system can react by having occasional 'flashes' of adrenal activity, which are most annoying, though they are not harmful as far as medical science knows. This might be called the stress theory of menopause, which is also essentially correct.
THE ADRENALS AND MENOPAUSE
The adrenal glands, perched on top the kidneys, produce small quantities of both male and female sex hormones. At the menopause, the adrenal glands should produce adequate estrogens, progesterone and other needed hormones in the correct balance and amounts to avoid symptoms that can occur when ovarian hormone production of these hormones diminishes. However, many women today have a condition that is termed adrenal insufficiency. This is basically underactivity of the adrenal glands. These women's adrenals do not respond correctly to the new need for sex hormones in response to diminished ovarian hormone secretion. Briefly, the causes of weakened adrenals include stress of any kind, nutritional deficiencies and almost always a buildup of toxic substances. These include toxic metals and perhaps environmental chemicals in the adrenal glands themselves and/or in the pituitary gland, which regulates the adrenal glands, signaling them when and how much of its hormones to secrete. At times, an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system is at fault as well. This can cause the adrenals to malfunction, secreting either too much or too little or the incorrect balance of hormones. This brings us to the other vital gland involved in menopause symptoms.
THE THYROID GLAND AND MENOPAUSE
The thyroid gland is the other piece of the puzzle that frequently is involved in menopausal symptoms. This is not to say there are not other causes, which are covered later. However, thyroid imbalances are very common and definitely affect female hormone regulation in the body. The thyroid produces thyroxine, a powerful hormone that affect the burning of sugar or glucose in the body and in so doing regulates the rate of metabolism, body temperature and much more. It is such a critical hormone that many people are given thyroid hormone replacement when they feel tired, cold, short of breath or have thin, brittle or falling hair. Low thyroid activity can also cause weight gain, a sallow complexion and many more problems for a person.
CAUSES OF THYROID IMBALANCE
Thyroid difficulties are extremely common and almost universal due to iodine deficiency, in part due to the presence of iodine antagonists in the environment such as fluorides, chlorine compounds and bromides in baked goods such as breads.
I find that diagnostic names such as hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's thyroiditis or others are less important than figuring out and correcting the biochemical imbalances affecting the thyroid gland.
The gland is either toxic, depleted of vital nutrients like iodine, or affected by tumors, or is not functioning correctly due to pituitary gland problems. This gland, often called the master gland, secretes TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone. This hormone directs the thyroid to secrete its hormone in the proper amount.
Other thyroid imbalances that are somewhat less common include an inability to convert T4, a largely inactive hormone, to its active form called T3 or triiodothyronine. This imbalance is called Wilson's Syndrome, and can be researched on the internet. It is overdiagnosed in our opinion since many times the cause is once again a toxic or depleted body chemistry. Specifically, selenium and other nutrients are greatly deficient in this condition and it usually responds to the type of nutritional therapy that we suggest.
Another cause of thyroid problems that is extremely common is stress. This is a general term for excessive physical, mental or emotional activity that overtaxes the gland. When it can no longer respond correctly, it malfunctions, either secreting too much or too little hormone. These are among the major causes of thyroid imbalances. Another cause of thyroid imbalances, touched upon but in need of elaboration, is mental and emotional stress that affects the thyroid gland in particular. Women are much more prone to this stress-related condition than men. Women are, in most cases, not accustomed to expressing themselves completely. They have been shut out of the mainstream of society by men and by tradition in many cases, for generations. As a result, when faced with a crisis, they often go into a form of "overdrive" or a more technical term is a stress response that severely taxes their thyroid gland.
When this occurs, and it can happen at any age and usually in childhood, the thyroid is severely damaged. The problem frequently does not reveal itself on tests until menopause, when the deficiency of ovarian hormones places added stress on a woman's body. At this time, the problem "catches up" with the woman and she experiences symptoms that are attributed to menopause but are really due to an underlying thyroid imbalance. The thyroid problem may or may not be revealed on standard blood tests. However, it is very apparent on properly interpreted hair mineral analyses and often by symptoms such as a low body temperature, dry hair and very dry skin at times, fatigue, weight gain in some cases and perhaps other related conditions.
THE BONES AND MENOPAUSE
Bone health is impacted by menopausal symptoms. Copper is sometimes involved in this process. Copper helps fix calcium in the bones. Without adequate bioavailable copper, calcium may go to the bones, but does not remain as well as it should.
Another related syndrome we call slow oxidation involves the bones. Slow oxidizers, as those with sluggish adrenals and thyroid activity are termed, often have biounavailable calcium and magnesium because the body cannot keep these minerals in solution in the blood and they precipitate or collect in the soft tissues instead. The body then robs the bones of calcium to place more calcium into the blood. This is also explained more in another article on this website, Osteoporosis.
Lead can also enter the bones and weaken them and this is the case in many, many women. Like the fatigue and stress feelings, the bone problems often begin to show up at the time of menopause or afterwards. At this time, the hormone system is under more stress and begins to malfunction more obviously.
PREVENTING SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE
The standard medical treatment for menopausal symptoms is estrogen, preferably accompanied by progesterone. A synthetic estrogen is used in some common preparations, although studies show little benefit and much danger in these synthetic or semisynthetic prescriptions. Common products are Premarin and others. Breast cancer has decreased as less of the synthetics are being used. Progestins, not natural progesterone, may be given along with the estrogen. An example of this drug is Provera. This treatment is not too effective and may be quite toxic for some women. It also does not address the causes at all and further disrupts the natural hormone balance. Therefore I cannot recommend it very much.
An alternative used by many holistic doctors is the use of all natural, bio-identical hormones. This is a little better, but still quite toxic, does not address causes at all, and definitely upsets the natural hormone balance further because it does not address the causes outlined above. Another option is herbal products such as Amberen and many others. This product is also toxic and destructive.
The best solution is to address the causes listed above. The finest way I know of to do this is with nutritional balancing science. You can read much more about this approach on this website. We may use symptomatic remedies along with a nutritional balancing programs for a short time, if needed, and these are listed later in this article. I have never needed to recommend hormones, however, or any herbal products for more than a few months. Then the symptoms go away on their own. Nutritional balancing is the only approach I am aware of that considers the lifestyle, diet, nutritional supplement needs, detoxification, balancing the minerals, spiritual issues and more in approaching menopause. This utilizes a properly performed hair mineral analysis. We find that in most cases, menopausal symptoms are quite easy to remedy by this method! Natural vitamins, minerals, lifestyle changes, along with sauna therapy and perhaps other detoxification procedures are usually quite sufficient to rebuild the glands enough to stop the most annoying and dangerous of the menopausal symptoms.
SYMPTOMATIC REMEDIES FOR MENOPAUSE AND LOW BONE DENSITY
I do not use or recommend remedies because they are very rarely needed if one follow a nutritional balancing program, and they do not address deeper causes. As a result, they can make you much worse, even if you get symptomatic relief from them. However, If you are not ready for a nutritional balancing program, you may try the following remedies for menopausal symptoms:
1. Drink a lot more water, either distilled or spring water. This has worked for several women. The probable reason is that it reduces the stress of not drinking enough water, which is a very common problem today. Drink at least 3 quarts of spring or distilled water only, each and every day. Use distilled water for only up to a year, as after this it will start removing too many essential minerals. At this time, switch to spring water. Do not drink alkaline water or tap water, preferably.
2. Reduce stress. This stops many cases of hot flashes. Reduce your workload, if possible, or go to bed much earlier by 8-9 PM at the latest, every night, and get 10+ hours of sleep, reduce vigorous exercise and generally relax more. This rests the adrenals and the thyroid and even the ovaries, and is most helpful.
3. Change your diet. Eat much better quality, organic food, and about 70% cooked vegetables, not salads. Eat animal protein every day and perhaps twice daily. Avoid all wheat products without exception. Also, avoid all fruit, fruit juices and all sweet foods and beverages like rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, Rice Dream, etc.
4. Take 3 to 6 Nature'w Way or Solaray kelp capsules per day with meals. Each capsule must contain between 600 and 660 mg of kelp each. Effects may take a few weeks to occur.
5. Thyro-complex. Try steps 1 through 4 above first. Take at least 3 capsules daily. Rarely it will cause some anxiety, in which case you will need to take less. You may take up to 9 per day, in 3 divided doses, if needed. The use of Thyro-complex should be of short duration until your body balances out or you decide on a more complete program with one of the practitioners of nutritional balancing science.
6. Boron (3 mg capsules or tablets). Try steps 1 through 5 above before using boron, as it is somewhat toxic. However, it can work well in some cases. This product is found at most health food stores. Take up to 3 mg of boron three times daily. The use of boron should be of short duration until your body balances out or you decide on a more complete program with one of the practitioners of nutritional balancing science.
7. Ova-adren. Never begin with this product. Try it only if the remedies above are not working well enough. Ova-adren is slightly toxic and is an herbal formula for women, with a few nutrients as well. The use of Ova-adren should be of short duration until your body balances out or you decide on a more complete program with one of the practitioners of nutritional balancing science.
8. Natural progesterone. This is a hormone, so it is more toxic and will throw the body somewhat out of balance, so try it only if the remedies above do not work. A good form of it is a sub-lingual tablet. Progesterone creams all build up under the skin and eventually cause problems. The use of progesterone should be of short duration until your body balances out or you decide on a more complete program with one of the practitioners of nutritional balancing science.
Osteoporosis Remedies. The best approach, by far, is a complete nutritional balancing program, just as it is for menopausal symptoms. If you have osteoporosis, do not use remedies. They are not good enough, in my view, and osteoprorosis can be a serious condtion that must be reversed with a nutritional balancing program.
For the prevention of osteoporosis, all women and even men should take at least 750 mg daily of a good quality calcium and 450 mg of a good quality magnesium daily. In addition, everyone should drink 10-12 ounces of carrot juice daily, but not more than this. In addition, I suggest plenty of cooked, green vegetables daily and some raw dairy products daily to provide very bio-available calcium and magnesium. Other excellent sources are bone broth, sardines, and perhaps a small amount of sesame and/or almond butters that contain excellent quality calcium as well. Another form of calcium supplement that is very good is called microcrystalline hydroxyapatite crystals (M.C.H.C.). This is a bone extract that contains a number of minerals for the bones. It is available at most health food stores. In addition, a healthful lifestyle with some exercise, sun exposure daily for about 20 minutes, an excellent diet and plenty of rest and sleep are also most helpful. These are also extremely beneficial for menopausal symptoms, by the way.
Also, I do not like the drugs prescribed for osteoporosis or osteopenia at all!! These include Fosamax, Boniva, and the others. They have been shown to cause jaw bone deterioration and other adverse symptoms.
In our experience, osteoporosis can often be reversed with a nutritional balancing program.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.