Welcome to Hot Flash.
Spending time away with my family this week has given me the opportunity to look at life from a different perspective, which is always good. These have been joyous days during which I found myself focusing on what really matters. As many of you will have seen I found myself in a field of sunflowers which summed up my overwhelming gratitude for all I have and the beauty of Mother Nature’s creations.
I found it interesting that during the same week an article was published about Rushing Woman’s Syndrome focusing on the fact that we spend so much time running around and with little down time or time to even notice our environment. We know that rushing brings on hot flushes and makes us feel stressed, potentially making our menopause experience even worse. I can’t stress enough the importance of taking some time out of your busy day to do a 20 minute formal relaxation session; it will result in you feeling both cooler and calmer.
I have added a new item to the newsletter this week – successful case studies. Over the next few months I will share with you the experiences of women who have overcome serious challenges at the time of the menopause and hope that these will serve to inspire to put in the work to overcome your symptoms too…
With my very best wishes
Is a Magic Pill for Menopause a realistic expectation?
After eight months of ploughing through posts from over 7000 members in my Facebook Group Natural Menopause – Making the Midlife Switch I have come to the resounding conclusion that women are really hoping for a pill that will magically take all their symptoms away, restoring them to their former selves. Despite the fact that they know deep down that this isn’t likely to happen they continue to invest in random supplements recommended by the Advertising Industry, or their friends, with serious hope they might be lucky enough to switch off the dreaded flushes, leaving themselves feeling calm and energetic rather than achy and anxious. But the truth is that isn’t likely to happen and that such a simple solution is probably an entirely unrealistic expectation.
There are so many different things going on in our body at the time of the menopause. As well as having falling levels of hormones like oestrogen which effect everything from our joints through to our brain, we also have to contend with the effects that low levels of important nutrients has on our brain chemistry and hormone function. With so much change in the offing it makes perfect sense that it’s going to take a multi-pronged approach to go from feeling like a shadow of your former self to feeling better than you can remember. Our diet and lifestyle heavily influence our level of symptoms at this life stage, but for the most part this is a well-kept secret in the public domain; although not in published medical journals which are swelling with supportive research.
The good news is that many of these research papers clearly show that a variety of supplements containing soya and red clover isoflavones, and herbs including Maca, St John’s Wort and Black Cohosh can be effective tools when attempting to control symptoms of the menopause. They even get a special mention in the Health Economics Appendix of the current NICE Guidelines.
Additional good news about science based supplements is that they have been through clinical trials to test for efficacy and even more importantly safety. Surely if we are taking supplements hoping they will have a profound effect on our hormones we need to have the peace of mind that they won’t be causing any adverse effects to our breast tissue or the lining of our uterus. Sadly, research also shows that often over the counter supplements don’t even contain what the labels say which makes it even more important to only invest in products that have been tried and tested.
Having identified the science based supplements, and recognised that they are a much wiser investment than those that haven’t been tried and tested or standardised, there are still things you need to know to manage your expectations. Supplements alone are not likely to control all menopause symptoms and that in addition to taking science based supplements, long-term wellbeing is very much related to consuming a nutrient dense diet containing plenty of naturally occurring hormones as well as indulging in regular exercise and relaxation.
It may not be a magic pill or a magic wand but I do have a very workable programme that has been helping women to overcome menopause symptoms for over 25 years. At the same time, it provides knowledge about how to prevent many of the conditions we are more susceptible to after the menopause when our ovaries are no longer functioning, including the bone thinning disease osteoporosis, heart disease and dementia. You can learn how to meet your needs at midlife and beyond and find out which supplements might be best for you by attending one of my free online Virtual Classes. I look forward to welcoming you
Case study - Gill Cox was post-menopause but still suffering severely from her symptoms when we were first in touch.
After lower back pain for about 10 years, with resultant reduction in exercise and weight gain, I could hardly walk! I had difficulty getting out of bed or up from a chair, stairs were an issue, I had problems with my balance (fell over a lot), breathing was laboured and I had a niggly cough that wouldn’t go away. I’d also lost height.
Following a range of tests that all came back negative, apart from low Vitamin D (get out in the sun more!) and slight under active thyroid (nothing to be concerned about) – so a ‘clean bill of health’ – I rang Maryon in desperation. It was the best thing I could have done!
At the outset Maryon suggested a number of dietary changes and supplements. Soya milk and the soya products I tried without success – made me nauseous - and whilst at first I felt I had to keep trying them I realised that Maryon has your interests at heart, she always listens, and came up with attractive alternatives to try instead.
Like many women, I was addicted to chocolate, devouring whole bars in one sitting and felt desperate if no chocolate was available. Even biscuits had to be chocolate coated. Under Maryon’s guidance the cravings disappeared almost immediately.
The supplements recommended have helped in a variety of ways and with sound logic for each from Maryon with alternative options to try if the first ones were not palatable. I used to have restless legs at night and that also disappeared with Maryon’s suggestions.
Within a very short time I felt like the old ‘me’ had returned after years of increasing difficulty. Together with the dietary changes and the supplements I found my mental and physical energy had returned. I was over the moon. All I had to do now was get the strength back into my muscles.
I’d had a number of physio sessions, which helped with my balance, but Maryon suggested I try a cranial osteopath. Lack of my knowledge and very little detail on the internet made me hold back for a while but then I made an appointment - again what a difference to my life!
It was the final part of the whole and again I can’t thank Maryon enough! I’d like to say I am back to being the person I used to be but it’s better than that! I’m 400% better now than when I first contacted Maryon. I feel amazing!’
Dirty Little Secrets
Feeling like you are losing your memory at midlife can be very scary, especially if you think it’s a permanent situation. Many women secretly wonder if these ‘senior moments’ are the beginning of dementia and are truly frightened. If you forget what you were saying mid-sentence, what you went into a room for or where you put your car keys you are not alone. It’s one of the commonest symptoms of the menopause.
And the reason? No-one knows for sure, but it’s thought most memory problems at this time of life are due to poor concentration, lack of motivation, tiredness, anxiety or stress, rather than loss of brain cells. Many surveys confirm that as we age many nutrients may be in short supply. Vitamin B deficiency, including B12 and Vitamin D can be associated with cognitive impairment as well as depression.
Vitamin E and other antioxidants may be important to help blood flow to the brain and central nervous system. One study showed for example that patients with early signs of dementia improved after being given high doses of Vitamin E.
As we grow older, our circulation slows down, thus less oxygen reaches our brain cells, so it’s no surprise we aren’t as sharp. Many of us don’t stretch our brains as much as we could. Like muscles, our brain needs to be used to function at optimum levels. The good news is forgetfulness doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of getting older. Following a nutrient-dense and phytoestrogen-rich diet, leading an active lifestyle and keeping your brain well exercised will help keep you sharp.
There is recent scientific evidence that soy isoflavones, whether in dietary or supplement form, can help with cognition and psychological symptoms around menopause. There is a high concentration of oestrogen receptors in the hippocampus - the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning - where these molecules might bind. For instance, an analysis of 10 randomised placebo-controlled clinical trials of isoflavone supplement use, covering over 1,000 women showed significant improvement in cognitive function and visual memory. It Is interesting that the impact was greatest among women under the age of 60 and, surprisingly perhaps, for shorter treatment duration. Maybe, the researchers said, there is an important 'window of opportunity' wherein supplementation and/or dietary changes should be started to gain maximum benefit for the brain and mind.
I was also excited to read in a new publication from Brazil this week that Yoga has been shown to reduce the rate at which the portion of the brain relating to memory ages. It also showed that women who practiced yoga regularly had increased levels of awareness, attention and what they called executive functions when compared to women of a similar age who didn’t practice yoga.
So, don’t delay! Reclaim your memory whilst you still can!