2002-11-09 / Columnists

Health and Harmony

By Dr. Nancy Gahles
Health and Harmony By Dr. Nancy Gahles Alternative Theories For Menopause

By Dr. Nancy Gahles

Alternative Theories For Menopause

On October 24, Dr. Vivian Pinn, Director of the Women's Health Initiative at the National Institute of Health announced the results of the Conference on Menopause. She reiterated the findings of The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in July 2002 "which stopped early a major clinical trial of the risks and benefits of combined estrogen and progestin in healthy menopausal women due to an increased risk of invasive breast cancer. The large multi-center trial, a component of the Women's Health Initiative also found increases in coronary heart disease, stroke, and pulmonary embolism in study participants on estrogen plus progestin, compared to women taking the placebo pills. There were noteworthy benefits of estrogen plus progestin, including fewer cases of hip fractures and colon cancer, but on balance the harm was greater than the benefits. (from NIH News Release July 9, 2002. The full report appears in JAMA, July 17 issue).

Dr. Pinn, the first woman director of the Women's Health Initiative at NIH, spoke on the Today show and waxed eloquently on behalf of women's health issues and the need for further studies into women's health. When asked by Katie Couric about alternative therapies that women can use she stated, "We just don't know enough about them and we need to learn more".

As with all medical conditions, always consult with your personal physician before embarking on an alternative treatment program and never self diagnose or self treat. The word alternative does not suggest unprofessional. Herbalists and homeopaths are highly skilled, well educated, qualified professionals who understand the art and science of their profession and are trained to implement a treatment program in concert with your own physician. Complementary and Alternative treatment centers are becoming mainstream throughout the United States.

"Homeopathy Today", the publication of the National Center for Homeopathy is a consumer friendly magazine worth subscribing to. Order at the same website.

Inasmuch as the body/mind is inexorably linked, natural hormonal changes are bound to elicit both physical and mental/emotional symptoms. The whole woman must be considered during this transitional period. Chrissie Wildwood, Aromatherapy and Flower Remedy Consultant, in her forward to "Homeopathy Today." expressed it succinctly when she wrote," There is a gentle alternative in the guise of homeopathy. This system of healing can be of enormous benefit to those suffering physical and emotional symptoms triggered by menopause. The beauty of homeopathy is that the remedies are highly potent and yet completely free of the toxic side effects associated with conventional drug therapy. As the author explains, when chosen and administered correctly, a homeopathic remedy acts in the manner of a catalyst, gently stimulating the mind/body's innate self-healing processes." The book, "Homeopathy and Menopause," by Beth MacEoin is a must read for those interested in exploring their options.

Susun S. Weed, in "New Menopausal Years," does it again with her wealth of herbal wisdom generously doled out in palatable fashion for those wishing to try the teas, tinctures and infusions of herbs that heal the menopause journey.

Simpler, and no less virtuous, is the relief obtained from walking, deep breathing, conscious relaxation, yoga, journal writing, aromatherapy, and a whole food diet including soy products, phytoestrogen rich foods and calcium and magnesium rich foods.

Menopause is just that. A time to pause. Transitions always call for reflection. From whence have I come and where am I going? And what am I going to take with me to ensure the best, most joyful next 50 years. Check the baggage and if you don't need it, if it doesn't "Fit" anymore, toss it! Lighten your load. The wise woman doesn't need "stuff". She has already become the stuff that is all she needs to carry her through the rest of her life. Just pause and take stock of yourself and you will find that YOU are all you need. Then find your inner song and sing and dance and laugh and hug yourself in affirmation of the journey. And, if you're going through Hell...just keep going. (Winston Churchill). And take a homeopathic remedy to beat the heat!

May the Blessings Be!!

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