Solutions for Seven Symptoms of Perimenopause

Dry Skin

Dry Skin: Production of collagen, the supportive fibrous structure that gives skin its strength, decreases after 40 and as estrogen levels fall. Skin feels and looks thinner, less elastic, and drier. The subcutaneous layer of fat also thins, thereby making the appearance of wrinkles more likely.
Susan Lark, M.D. Ann Louise Gittleman (ALG) Christiane Northrup, M.D.
Using the traditional Asian model, women are thought to become "yin deficient" when they reach menopause and their tissues become drier, hotter, or more yang. Healing substances that restore or rebuild yin include royal jelly. Take the liquid form of royal jelly, ¼ tsp. twice a day. Available at most health food stores or order from Glory Bee (800/456-7923.) Ensure you are getting essential fatty acids (EFAs) in your diet. Eat foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs like flaxseed (1-2 Tbsp. per day), raw pumpkin seeds (2-3 oz. per serving as a snack) and cold-water fish (as salmon, trout, mackerel or halibut) three times weekly. Skin, hair and nails benefit from alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) EFA. Flaxseed oil is the richest source of omega-3 EFA; take 2 Tbsp. daily as salad dressing or hide it in yogurt. 3-4 Tbsp. of flaxseeds = 1 Tbsp. of flaxseed oil. Flaxseeds can have a stabilizing effect on hormone-related mood disorders. Use borage oil, a source of gamma linoleic acid (GLA) in the omega-6 family, as a skin moisturizer. Borage oil is a natural anti-inflammatory. Dr. Northrup recommends two skin-care brands on her web site: the Trienelle line formulated by a physician (Aspen Benefits Group, 800/539.5195) and Sense from Usana Health Sciences (888/959.9595). She also recommends exfoliants like 5-12 percent alpha hydroxy acids and products with topical vitamin C ester or high-potency vitamin E for rejuvenation. For "inside" skin care, follow her insulin-normalizing diet by cutting out high-glycemic index foods+. Soy (100-160 mg of isoflavones daily) strengthens collagen. Midlife skin-boosting supplements: vitamins C and E, alpha-lipoc acid, proanthocyanidins (flavonoids extracted from grape seeds and maritime pine) and coenzyme Q10.


* One cup of soy milk, for example, has only 20 to 40 mg of isoflavones; one-half cup of tofu has 35 mg.
** Salivary home-test kits measure a panel of hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol. The technology is not widely accepted by the medical community and your doctor may seek a blood test to compare the results of salivary testing. Aeron Life Cycles Laboratory, San Leandro, Calif. and Great Smokies Diganostic Laboratory, Asheville, N.C., sell test kits.

+ High-glycemic foods rapidly raise blood sugar (glucose), which causes insulin production. Insulin transports sugars out of the blood stream and into fat cells and muscles. High-glycemic meals raise blood glucose so high that extra insulin is produced, quickly moving sugars into the body cells and causing blood-sugar levels to drop. Your body responds by producing hormones to increase appetite and balance blood sugar. Studies show that people are more successful at weight loss when they eat low-glycemic meals.

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