Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Menopause 101


Alternative Medicine for Menopause
menopause
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Acupuncture can relieve some of the tension and stress due to the side effects of menopause.

Because menopause is a natural process that happens to all women, some doctors recommend some simple alternative menopause treatments. Here are a few of the most popular.

Get a Massage

A good massage can relieve tension in your body caused by stress, and relaxation can do wonders for your hot flashes and your sleep. Massage may also help relieve some arthritis pains because of the increased blood circulation. Many people find a massage makes them feel less anger and hostility, which accumulate in the form of tension in your body. During the massage, you can concentrate on good feelings within and about your body. Learn to breathe deeply and focus on relaxation instead of stress-filled situations.

What will you encounter when you go for a massage? Most professionals use a rather firm, but comfortable, specially constructed massage table with a soft face rest for you to use while lying on your stomach. Usually, you will have a choice of music to listen to during your massage to enable your mind to relax and drift. A variety of oils will be used so that the massage therapist's hands glide more easily.

Massage can be a good part of your routine of taking care of yourself and learning to relax more.

Try Acupuncture of Acupressure

Have you thought about trying acupuncture? Some women who do not find relief from their discomforts using traditional medications opt for acupuncture. Instead of ingesting prescription drugs, some women rely on acupuncture to treat their hot flashes and other discomforts. Acupuncture is regarded by most physicians as an "alternative" method of healing, because it is not yet in the mainstream of Western medicine. However, since the early 1970s, it has been gaining popularity in the United States.

Acupuncture is a technique developed thousands of years ago by Asian practitioners to relieve pain and improve well-being in a variety of ways. The philosophy behind acupuncture is that the life force flows through certain pathways in the body, known as meridians. Manipulating certain points on these meridians with acupuncture releases and facilitates the flow of energy to interrupt patterns of illness or the discomforts of mild or severe pain. The technique involves inserting specially designed, very thin needles under the skin to activate the flow of vital life force or energy. Acupuncture has been used in place of anesthesia during and after surgery and as a painkiller after diagnostic and surgical procedures.

A related technique is acupressure, another ancient technique based on applying finger pressure to the same specific points on the body where acupuncture is used. Acupressure is helpful for some women with neck and back tension or pain, headache, and a variety of other discomforts. Acupressure releases tension and helps to increase circulation, enabling more oxygen and other nutrients to flow freely throughout the body.

To find a specialist in acupuncture or acupressure, contact a school for Eastern medicine in a major city. Acupuncturists are licensed to practice in some states in the United States; in other states, only licensed physicians may perform acupuncture. Many hospitals and medical practices have incorporated acupuncturists into their practices.

Turn to an Herbal Remedy

If you don't like taking prescription drugs, try an herbal remedy. Herbs are natural substances that have been used medicinally to treat menopausal symptoms for many thousands of years. Modern medicine began with the ancient knowledge of herbal remedies. In fact, many herbs have nonnutritive compounds that promote a desired biological process or change an unwanted process. Even today, nearly 75 percent of the world's population relies on herbal or traditional medications. Herbs are used all over the world for maintaining health and curing ills.

Oriental herbal therapies are based on maintaining and restoring a balance of our vital energy. Prescriptions are individually prepared for each patient. For example, for hot flashes, one Oriental herbalist might recommend a combination of ginseng and licorice. Another might recommend a cup of raspberry leaf tea. In general, do not treat yourself with herbal remedies without checking with your doctor or a trained herbalist. Since some herbs can interact with other medications, always inform your doctor of any extra at-home treatments you are presently taking.

Why use herbal therapies instead of traditional prescription drugs? Many women like herbal therapies because the herbs are "natural," they've been used for thousand of years, they are found in food products, and they are usually available over the counter. However, herbal remedies, unlike prescription medications, are not strictly regulated.

The quality of herbal products varies widely, and some products may contain toxic levels of some herbs or contaminants. Other concerns include taking an ineffective herbal product when a safer, more effective prescription drug is available or delaying medical care for a serious condition while trying an herbal product.

Although herbs often may be less expensive than prescription drugs, they may cost more at times. Some herbal practitioners insist that you use only his or her product, which may be more expensive. Herbal remedies are not covered by insurance. And sometimes one relatively inexpensive medication may work as well as or better than multiple costly herbal remedies.

The good news is that many women find that herbal remedies fit their philosophic approach to treating minor ailments and menopausal symptoms, and many of the products are helpful as well.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.