131: Natural Treatment For Menopause
Weight Loss & Menopause With Herbs And Chinese Medicine
I have Dana LaVoie here today to teach us about menopause. Even if you're not menopausal yet or past menopause, it is important to know this important stage in a woman's life.
LaVoie is a licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist practicing for about 14 years. Women's health and menopause are her specializations as well as in tonic herbs. There are so many of her clients who have benefitted so much from Chinese medicine.
I remember my mom going through menopause and she for 5 years, only saw an Acupuncturist which is a traditional Chinese doctor.
She was cooking herbs on the stove every day. I never saw her go through hot flashes. Hence, it was like she never went through menopause.
It's amazing to see Natural Medicine give her so much relief. Consequently, if we're really healthy, we don't have to have symptoms.
Weight loss is a hot issue around women of all ages but especially around menopause or during menopause. Most women complain of the sudden weight gain.
“During menopause, your hormones are changing. If you're really healthy, your body will be able to keep hormones in balance. Your metabolism stays good,” LaVoie said.
Understanding Weight Loss & Weight Gain
“If your body can't keep up, that's when you get the menopausal symptoms like weight gain,” said LaVoie. “What you eat is a lot more than losing weight. Think of diet as a way of nourishing your body to be healthy. Only then it becomes a lifestyle.”
LaVoie suggests eating a warm, easy breakfast like congee is easy to digest. Congee is a Chinese comfort food that is easy to digest.
It's grains that are cooked for a long time in a large amount of liquid. Like a porridge.
“If you're having trouble losing weight, look at how much cold, raw or frozen food you're eating,” explains LaVoie. “Because that puts out your digestive fire which is your metabolism. You can gain weight just by eating cold, raw or frozen food.”
My husband eats frozen organic blueberries. And he started gaining weight. He just eats a handful of cashews, some vegetables or meat or some eggs for breakfast. But whenever he eats frozen blueberries, he gains weight.
LaVoie has a client with the same situation. The client's diet is smoothies made with fruits and ice, salads which are raw and cold, and yogurt yet she's still gaining weight.
LaVoie immediately knew what the problem was. Hence, It was an easy fix.
Foods For Certain Body Types
I know Ayurvedic medicine is not Chinese medicine but I know they have identified different body personalities or ‘dosha' wherein somebody types should eat more warm foods and another type.
“There are people whose symptoms or problems they have, are primarily due to excess heat that they have inside their body,” LaVoie said, “They have excess conditions caused by heat. Hence, they need to eat more raw or cooling foods.”
Furthermore, LaVoie explains that others have a body personality where digestion is a weak area. If they eat a lot of cold and cleansing food, they get half-digested.
She says that accumulates and turns into weight gain. It's called ‘phlegm' and ‘dampness' in Chinese medicine.
Fire And Water Energies
LaVoie says a woman can feel hot for two reasons. You have fire and water energies in your body so sometimes when you feel hot, it means you don't have enough water.
She says this is called deficiency fire. It tends to come and go in flashes usually worse at night. As a result, you tend to get dryness.
Using herbal tonics to treat menopause, results are usually seen after a couple of weeks. But the first big change happens after 3 months.
Anyone who starts a tonic herbal program, they first do a foundation combination of herbs for 99 days to cleanse and reset.
That's how long the body cycles through the first big change. And then move on to the next phase.
Avoiding Diet Pitfalls
“You don't want your body to think you're in starvation mode. The primitive part of your brain starts to think something is wrong,” LaVoie cautioned. “It takes 6 months for your metabolism to recover from being in that starvation mode.”
“Your brain chemistry starts to change and your hormones start to change. Your metabolism immediately starts to go down but your cravings go up. This increases your stress hormones,” said LaVoie.
LaVoie shares what Dr. Mark Hyman said on her blog, as to why diet fails. He says that the average person gains 11 pounds for every diet that they go on.
And Dr. Hyman says when they lose weight, they lose muscle, not fat. When they gain weight back, it's all fat.
“If you can just keep your metabolism up by not starving and instead of satiating yourself 5 times a day every 3 hours with nutritious food, weight loss is easier,” concluded LaVoie.
La Voie's program is boosting metabolism naturally. While there are benefits from different kinds of fasting, the Chinese medicine approach to a healthy digestion is to eat regularly.
“Insulin and sugar hugely contribute to weight gain. It ties in with the hormone cortisol, your stress hormone,” LaVoie said. “If your insulin level is uneven it increases your stress hormone levels and inflammation.”
Furthermore, she explains that in Chinese medicine, your digestive system is considered your earth energy. It's where you make blood and your watery essence from.
If your digestive system is poor, your body can't make blood and your watery essence. In menopause, watery essence controls the fire in our body, moisturizes our body and keeps you calm.
“Without watery essence, your mood spikes and fly all over the place,” LaVoie said. “Lack of watery essence leads to dry tendons, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel and lack flexibility. Some women can also get dry eyes and mouth during menopause.”
Our mucous membranes also become dry and that leads to painful intercourse. Women are less likely to have a sex drive if they have all these imbalances.
LaVoie also said that recurring urinary tract infection is really unpleasant. Because if your vaginal tissues are dry, they are less plump. So the opening becomes bigger. If they are plump, it's hard for bacteria to get in.
Foods To Improve Water Essence
LaVoie suggests that having a high amount of fruits and vegetables helps in making sure your water essence is sufficient. Because those foods are cooling and moistening. Pears, seeds, black beans are particularly good to include in your diet.
She also said that as you approach menopause, there are estrogen-rich foods which are safe.
Flax seeds, organic, fermented and non-GMO soy, as well as sesame seeds, are good. Healthy fats are going to be a great basis. Make sure you're not iron-deficient as well.
When I was growing up, my mom took us to Dr. D' Adamo. James D'Adamo. The father of the original creator of the “Eat Right For Your Type” blood type book.
Going to him growing up, he had us on this kick. He had us do this every morning—freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and his mysterious protein powder and flaxseed all blended together with our Vitamix.
If you don't drink it fast enough, it turns to gel which I personally prefer. I never had a problem with constipation and I always had perfect digestion.
LaVoie's Daily Morning Smoothie
Here's what LaVoie puts in her warm smoothie which she drinks every morning. You can mix match the bases to give you a different flavor every day:
- Liquid – Water/ Coconut water/ nut milk/ herbal tea (make sure the liquid base is warm)
- Herbs – Herb capsules
- Seeds – flaxseeds/ chia/ sesame / Brazil nuts/ almonds
- Healthy fats – coconut oil/ egg yolk
- Spices – cinnamon / ginger/ ginger root (good for digestion)
- Protein powder – pea protein/whey protein from grass-fed cows
- Sweet fruit drops (alternative to stevia)
- Green powder
- Fruit powder
- Cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
LaVoie noticed that the ones who benefits the most are the ones to take the herbs regularly for 3 months up to 2 years. She thought,'How can I make more people excited about taking their herbs more regularly?' So she created a program.
The program is a one-on-one thing that is customized to your health goals and your budget. It is delivered to you every month.
You have to use up all the herbs in the box before the next box comes. And then LaVoie usually calls in her clients and re-evaluate their progress after 3 months.
There's also a weekly Q & A with her as well as a resource library. The program is very affordable so more women can avail of this program.
LaVoie expanded it for menopausal clients. She came up with 16 herbal combinations specifically for menopause.
Menopause Basics: What To Eat
First of all, LaVoie says to eat a good diet and have a healthy lifestyle. Combine that with herbs and you get amazing results.
“Eating the right foods is the way to start. In this program, everything you want to include in your diet to make your hormones balance naturally,” said LaVoie. “Any age is ok. It's not a diet. This is just what to include in your diet.”
She adds, if you want to have coffee or doughnut, it's fine. But you need to balance it with healthy foods. You need to have them often enough. By getting that healthy food in your body, it evens out your hormones, energy, blood sugar and mood.
LaVoie's 4-Steps To Hormonal Balance
1. What you include in your diet is more important that what you leave out.
2. By practicing stress management and eating protein and healthy fat often enough throughout the day, you can help balance cortisol and insulin levels, which helps your other hormones immensely.
3. Avoid the worst of the hormone disrupting chemicals.
4. Add adaptogenic superfoods into the diet.
Finally, LaVoie advises,” Adapt the Chinese medicine into your menopause. It's called the “second spring”. If you get some healthy habits in place now, it will stay on track for the rest of your life.”
Dana LaVoie is the founder and creator of Menopause Basics. Using her 13 years of clinical experience, Dana will provide you with simple, smart, and natural techniques based on the best of Asian Medicine and modern science. Through online courses or 1:1 consultations, Dana will tailor her approach to your individual experience until she finds the perfect intervention for you.
Dana has a BA from Wesleyan University in Middletown CT, and a Masters in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine from The Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, OR, and have been a licensed Acupuncturist in the state of Oregon since 2004.
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