The menopause is a frustrating, even scary, time of your life. Your body is going through changes that are both out of the ordinary for you and can even potentially be painful at times, too.
The fact that this is a process that will happen to women above a certain age is also not a comforting feeling to many.
Add to that the increased likelihood of being at risk of certain health conditions during and after menopause, such as heart disease or osteoporosis, and it’s no wonder that many women look for ways to help treat its symptoms.
One of the methods of treatment that many people have turned to is Traditional Chinese Medicine (see also: Traditional Chinese Medicine – What You Need To Know?)(TCM). While it’s been getting wider support and notice in Europe and the Americas over the past few years, it’s been used in Asia for centuries at this point.
So, what can it offer to menopause symptoms and issues? And is it worth the potential issues that TCM can also pose to your health?
We’ll answer all of that and more in this guide! From history to theory, to its treatments for menopause symptoms, we’ve got you covered here!
What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Before we get any deeper into this topic, it is worth breaking down a little bit of the history behind TCM, to help give a little bit of context about where it comes from, as well as how and why it has got so popular across the world in the last hundred or so years.
The main distinguishing feature of TCM is the use of specific techniques, herbs, and other simple treatments, to help manage and cure a wide range of symptoms across the body.
While the outright miracle cures that some people have claimed about TCM are still contentious, the treatment of milder issues, such as aches, pains, and inflammation, has been well-documented over the years.
TCM has been in practice across Central and East Asia for thousands of years at this point. The first records that we have of some of these treatments come from at least the 2nd century B.C.E, with documents being uncovered from at least 200 B.C.E.
These scriptures, documents, and explanations for techniques suggest a practised and well-understood process behind the whole philosophy, which implies that these techniques had been used for a long time already.
While TCM would be practised across China for centuries, it would eventually be brought over to the rest of the world, through Chinese immigrants into the Americas and Europe.
Add to that some high-profile interests and cases, such as the TCM treatment of American reporter James Reston, who covered US President Nixon’s historic 1971 visit to China, and interest and practice have only increased across the globe.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Philosophy
The main aspect to remember about TCM is its approach to treating the body and the pain or discomfort that ails it.
In standard Western medicine practices, we often focus on the specific part of the body that is afflicted with a condition and try and treat the symptoms that can be found through trial and error.
It’s a form of medicine that works very well at treating specific areas and eliminating other causes, but it is also highly reactive, and only really looks at parts of the body as individual issues, rather than a holistic view.
To butcher a metaphor for a moment, it’s like trying to figure out what is wrong with a car engine by looking at one part at a time, such as the spark plugs, crankshaft, or cylinder head.
Unless you know that a specific aspect has been damaged, trying to analyse the problem can take time, and ignore other parts of the engine.
Meanwhile, TCM takes a more holistic and spiritual approach, instead treating the body like a series of connected pathways for signals and energy to pass through.
This means that TCM users will view an issue of one part as an imbalance or ailment of the whole body. TCM often tries to use techniques and items that can be applied to the whole body to see results.
To go back to our metaphor, it’s looking at the whole car engine as a single problem, not just part of it.
TCM treats ailments as imbalances of the body’s energy, or Qi, and changes brought about by stress, exhaustion, change, or other maladies that will affect the body.
This often means that menopause and its symptoms also fall under imbalances in the body, and are treated as such.
Symptoms Of Menopause
So, what are the signs that someone is going through menopause, or is about to go through menopause?
While the exact details can vary from person to person, there are many common symptoms that people that go through the menopause experience are the following:
- Both hot and cold flashes.
- Urinary urgency, or otherwise loss of bladder control.
- Vaginal dryness, which can make sex uncomfortable or even painful.
- Irregular periods, especially for women in the years leading up to the menopause.
- Irregular periods, which can have both lighter or heavier flows to them.
- Insomnia, or otherwise difficult sleeping.
- Emotional changes, such as general and easier irritability, and depression, among others.
- Dry and tender skin, including the face, eyes, and breasts.
- Joint pains and aches around the body
- Sex drive changes
- Racing heart,
Treating Menopause Through Traditional Chinese Medicine
Using small needles, acupuncture and other acupressure treatments claim to be able to release endorphins and natural pain relief into the body.
There is some evidence to support its beneficial treatment for menopause symptoms. Patients who had acupuncture performed on them reported suffering from less hot flushes, as well as helping treat joint pain in some people.
TCM is known for its many herbal remedies, which are claimed to treat a wide range of symptoms in patients, from inflammation to digestive issues.
Many of the most famous remedies, such as green tea or astragalus root, are known to help reduce pain caused by inflammation, which can be great pain relief for women suffering from menopause symptoms.
Tai Chi/Physical Treatment
Tai chi has been proven to be able to help ease joint pain and discomfort in older patients, making it a great tool in physical therapy for dealing with menopause pain and discomfort.
Issues With Traditional Chinese Medicine
While searching for TCM treatments for menopause symptoms, you may have come across some warnings, both by Western health professionals, and other members of the public, that TCM is a dangerous practice that should be avoided, which can leave many people worried and avoid trying these solutions.
Is there any truth to these ideas?
Well, it’s not unfounded with some aspects of TCM, especially when it comes to herbal remedies. Some herbal remedies, particularly if bought from unreputable sources, can contain trace amounts of highly toxic substances, such as arsenic, lead, or harmful drugs.
Any one of these substances could seriously damage or even kill a person if taken in the wrong or any amount, so it is imperative that you opt for a reputable and trusted practitioner.
You should research the ingredients before using TCM, and never buy anything from an unknown vendor.
Final Notes – Is This A Good Option For You?
So, on the whole, would we recommend using TCM as a way of treating your menopause symptoms?
Well, if you are getting your treatment and advice from a reputable source, physical tai chi training and acupuncture might be quite helpful, as well as some herbal treatments too.