Culturally, in the West at least, we have fallen into a bit of a rut when it comes to menopause. In short, the medical response is either HRT and/or antidepressants or nothing at all.
As we have said before, if HRT and/or antidepressants are right for you, that's wonderful. The first oestrogen pill was introduced in 1942, and HRT became available to women in the UK in 1965 - for many women it has been a game changer. However, as with all things, not everyone will have the same wants and needs when it comes to their health and wellbeing.
In fact, of the 13 million women in the UK who are currently perimenopausal or menopausal (one third of the entire UK female population), research shows that around seven million women in the UK seek non-medical support to manage their menopausal symptoms (more than 50%). For anyone who wants to take a more holistic approach, the verified advice is sparse.
Lots of doctors are becoming more aware of natural and holistic approaches to menopause and many are advocates of using nutrition, complementary therapies, phytoestrogens and exercise to help combat the unwanted side effects of menopause.
The question for most women when they're exasperated with brain fog, hot flashes and sleepless nights, is will these natural solutions to menopause symptoms really work?
The evidence for natural menopause solutions
It is entirely reasonable and understandable that anyone seeking solutions to problems would want evidence that it works. Furthermore, there's no reason natural and holistic solutions to menopause symptoms should not be treated with the same rigorous scientific research as medical solutions.
For that reason, when we set out to create The Menopause Plus (MPlus) brand, we began with the science. In 2018 we commissioned research from the UK’s Keele University to better inform the questions used and subjects covered by Project Menopause Million. We then worked with the University of Birmingham to provide academic validation for the findings, allowing them to undergo academic statistical scrutiny and for a research paper to be published.
It was on the basis of that information that we could better understand menopause, its treatment, and the efficacy of different holistic products and approaches to hormonal imbalance. All of this led us to launch MPlus. Like all of our work, MPlus has two sides to it - products that can be used at home and in spa treatments, and dedicated qualifications for spa therapists to address specific client needs - in this case, symptoms related to hormonal wellness.
Efficacious, natural menopause solutions fell into two main areas - acupressure and plant hormones (phytoestrogens). We also included knowledge of the circadian rhythm, which changes over our lifespan and can have an impact on metabolic alterations - which helps to explain some of the hot flushes, mood alterations and brain fog that women often experience during menopause.
Aromatherapy also plays a part for its wider holistic benefits. For example, geranium in the morning is uplifting while peppermint can help with hot flashes and orange blossom can help relax and prepare for sleep.
Acupressure for menopause symptoms
In studies (our own and others), acupressure has been shown to provide relief from a broad spectrum of menopause symptoms (as well as lots of other things). The Chinese believe that it helps to balance the body's vital energy by releasing neurotransmitters and neural hormones.
A study from the NIH commented: "The findings revealed a significant reduction in the number and severity of hot flashes, the number of night sweats, and state–trait anxiety severity."
We use acupressure points in our hormone balancing spa treatments, finishing with acupressure plasters that you keep on after your treatment to continue the ongoing benefits at home. You can also purchase acupressure plasters on MPlus to use at home - we particularly recommend them in conjunction with the Kansa Wand - a facial massage tool which helps detoxify the skin and smooth the complexion.
Phytoestrogens for hormone balance
Phytohormones or naturally occurring plant hormones (phytoestrogens in particular) can be seen as an alternative to HRT or something that can work alongside medical support like HRT, depending on the individual and their preferences.
They have been shown to be highly effective in combating many of the unwanted consequences of menopause. Occurring in many food products, they are chemicals produced by plants that can mimic (to an extent), oestrogen.
In particular, they have been shown to have an effect on symptoms like hot flashes. An NIH study also found that they helped to decrease vaginal atrophy, improve sleep and cognition, and positively affect bone health.
The thing about taking a natural approach to anything is that it can (not always) mean that the results take a little longer and slightly different things work for different people. In truth, the latter is the same with medical treatments, but the results are often more dramatic more quickly with medical solutions.
What's important for women going through menopause and all the symptoms that can come with it, is that there are options. There are things that can help, and if you want to take a natural approach to menopause then that's perfectly viable, there is reliable, evidence based information around it, and yes, it is effective.
If you have any questions, just ask us.