During the post-menopause
The ‘post’ menopause years can account for 30 years or upwards and for some more like 40 years, so being aware of what this all means is I think very important especially with an ageing population.
The ‘post-menopause’ refers to the time after menopause has been reached. The average age around the world is 51 years old but up to 58 years old is also the norm for some women. These are the post-fertile years when hormonal balancing through food and herbs can be harnessed. Lack of hormonal cycles and attendant low immunity, tiredness, mood swings etc can be for many, a very liberating and life-enhancing stage.
There is a slow, gradual decline in the sex hormone levels, eventually to be maintained at a very low and stable level. If the adrenal glands are healthy, they will take over a low rate of oestrogen and progesterone production. If the adrenals are exhausted, this exacerbates a different set of changes in the body, which tend to be more long-term. The adrenal glands are supposed to secrete a certain quota of hormones throughout the day but tired and exhausted adrenals will not do so if under-par themselves. Siberian Ginseng can greatly support this situation and can be used liberally if you know you have adrenal stress issues, past or present [EnergiRevive powder].
Anything that keeps the hormones functioning for longer and therefore assists in preventing other diseases and conditions is worthwhile. Apart from the more obvious complications that the menopause can incur, some other lesser known ones can be assisted e.g. improving cognitive function and short-term memory, decreasing the risk of tooth loss and cataract formation. Remember also that oestrogen tends to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol in the blood. Oestrogen allows healthy blood flow in the coronary arteries, so reduction of oestrogen levels has far-reaching consequences for the heart and circulation.
Heart and Circulation
One of the most important factors in reducing the menopausal risks of heart disease and osteoporosis is exercise. Walking, swimming and other activities can cut cardiovascular disease; resistance training such as lightweights helps build muscle, which makes bones stronger. However, plant oestrogens also mimic the effects of naturally produced oestrogen and will increase the activity of bone-dissolving ones. So for the herbs to help I usually turn to hormone stabilisers like agnus castus and sometimes black cohosh. I always use hawthorn as the loss of oestrogen makes our blood thicker (dangerously so sometimes). I also use milk thistle and any other liver support herbs and food you can think of to enable the liver to speedily process environmental exogenous oestrogens that can cause real damage to some.
Osteoporosis and Bone mass loss Post Menopause
The menopause onset marks a five-year rapid bone density loss onset. After 5 years this loss balances out to an annual 1% loss (actually this 1% loss is for both men and women and not therefore connected to menopause at this stage). So the damage, if it is going to happen, happens during this phase, so this is the time to ensure limiting bone loss density and preserving one’s bone structure for the future. I always maintained that if you can’t effectively do certain exercises due to weak bones (hips etc) then ultimately your heart and circulation will suffer, so limited swimming can be a great alternative to say walking.
Those that menopause early, e.g. before the age of 40 years or thereabouts, will be more affected by bone density loss. They lack the years of oestrogen protection, which automatically helps retain calcium for a decade or so longer. Herbs, food state supplements, not smoking, good food and exercise will all majorly contribute to this 5 years bone density loss and what toll it does or does not take. Inherited disposition will also play a part but even so, all of the above can massively alter inherited bone loss situations.
Hawthorn has been found to inhibit ‘natural enzyme production’ which can be responsible for constricting blood vessels so it is a good substitute for the loss of the thinning components of oestrogen.
Other chemical components within hawthorn re-elasticizes the blood vessel walls and in turn assist their peristaltic and flexing action, thus promoting good blood flow and circulation. The plant chemical rutin is partly responsible for this as it helps to rebuild the collagen fibres that maintain the outer layers of the vessels. It will also normalize and gently strengthen the contractions of the cardiac muscle. Plus it can reduce fatty deposits, calcium and other debris that block the free open flow of blood. Knowing about hawthorn to protect the heart in menopause and vitally post menopause is to my mind so important. As I’ve said low levels of oestrogen no longer thin the blood, so keeping the blood flowing with safety post menopause can, therefore, help somewhat to protect against post-menopausal strain on the heart.
Researchers are also finding that hawthorn berries are able to help liver illness by reducing inflammation and during and post-menopause keeping your liver happy is vital. This is because it needs to keep on successfully clearing out environmental oestrogens for you which tend to opportunistically replace the lowered levels of oestrogen.
Additionally, poor memory and blood flow to the brain can be helped with hawthorn, always useful for menopause memory gaps.
Hawthorn leaves, flowers and berries as medicine
Nowadays herbalists are sure to combine all parts into a tincture, tea (or other means of delivery). 50% leaves and flowers and 50% berries. You can pick your own and use it fresh or dry or freeze for later. You can also buy the powders and add to smoothies.
You can now collect the hawthorns bright green leaves and white (or pink) blossoms and make fresh teas. Historically leaves are chewed in spring to ward off hunger (oxygen delivery biochemistry) whilst the autumnal hawthorn berries were mainly used as a homemade jam or a medicinal syrup for winter use. They are also especially high in B Vitamins and have numerous bioflavonoids (antioxidants) to keep us healthy in our post-menopause years.
Do not use Hawthorn if on any prescribed heart medication.