Hannah Dare shares some of the nutritional and lifestyle adjustments that helped on her menopause journey
In hindsight, I can see I was struggling with perimenopause for a number of years, until my periods finally stopped for good (I think!) about a year-and-a-half ago. It’s a little early to go though the menopause, which caused me some anxiety at first, but now I have worked out how to stabilise the hot flashes, reduce my anxiety and have raised my energy levels, the relief is huge. I’m no longer on such an emotional rollercoaster, I don’t struggle with feeling down for half the month, and I’m no longer wiped out for an entire week each month. Towards the end, my periods came every 20 days so it felt like there was no break and I was overwhelmed. If this sounds at all like you, don’t panic – there’s a lot you can do to balance it all out again.
I’ve learned over the last two years what works for me. It’s an individual matter – we all have different bodies and lifestyles and hence all our symptoms and needs are different. I thought I would share with you some of the things that have benefitted me, so that (along with all the great information in this fabulous Menopause Feature) you can start to piece together your own plan.
When I realised that my periods were erratic and I was having early menopause symptoms, the first thing I did was take myself to a Medical Herbalist. I know Rosari is covering herbs for Menopause this month so I won’t go into detail on what I’m taking, but I will say that if you are really struggling, I strongly recommend finding a herbalist to work with.
Sometimes over-the-counter herbs will do the trick (call into your local health store to ask about taking Agnus Castus for a stabilising your cycle, for example, or Sage extract tablets for flushes, or Rhodiola if you are feeling down, or Valerian for sleep issues) but sometimes life is so busy and overwhelming that having someone to talk you through all your different symptoms, your medical history and give you a prescription is just what you need. Medical Herbalists (like Rosari) are extremely well-qualified and can guide you through this time of transition in a way that will help you to stay on top of all the symptoms without needing to resort to prescription medication.
The next thing I did was start taking time out to look after myself. I do yoga twice a week, I swim in the sea regularly, and I get massages as often as I can. I also walk in the woods a lot and try to go to bed at 10pm. I aim not to get exhausted. I find all these things help me to stay balanced, to manage my busy life and stay feeling good about the world!
In terms of diet, my main goal is to drink a LOT more water than I was – at least a litre and a half a day on top of the (many) herbal teas I drink. Something I learned was that if you wake in the night with a racing heart, it could be dehydration. It’s stopped since I focused on drinking water.
I also reduced caffeine, drinking mainly decaf coffee and rooibos tea (have you tried the Dragonfly Rooibosh Earl Grey? It’s gorgeous). I also cut out dairy milk, and reduced sugar, and increased the amount of fruit and vegetables I eat. I don’t drink alcohol outside of the occasional times when I really feel like it – often our lIver can have a hard time processing all the hormones, so giving it a break really makes sense.
In terms of supplements, my main symptoms were feeling very low – low mood, low energy, low everything. Life was a struggle. And what I learned at a recent Webinar we hosted on the Menopause was that taking Soy Isoflavones can really help this feeling. Previously, I used to dread the onset of the menopause because I loved the high I would get once I started my period each month – which I understood was an oestrogen high. I felt on top of the world, and I was very worried that this was going to desert me and I would feel flat forever after. But this isn’t the case, and I feel that it has a lot to do with Soy Isoflavones, which are a form of Phyto-oestrogen, which enables my body to boost my oestrogen levels a little. Not as much as Hormone Replacement Therapy would, but enough (for me) to feel really good again, and to feel stable -– no huge ups and downs – which is actually very pleasant!
Other supplements I take include B Complex, Magnesium, and Omega 3. Omega 3 is amazing for keeping your skin supple and of course also helps your brain, heart and mood. If you get a lot of dryness – vaginal dryness, or dry eyes – you can also take Omega 7, it’s very effective. Magnesium is essential for energy, mood, keeping your bones strong – you’re probably on it, but if you are still getting any cramps or are having trouble sleeping, increase the dose – the only side effect of too much magnesium is loose bowels, in which case take it in two doses. B Vitamins are so important for women, for mood swings, energy again, and so many other things. Take a good one – I love Terranova. And finally if you used to bleed heavily please make sure you take iron every so often, it’s a good energy boost and we don’t always have enough in our diets. Floradix Liquid Iron is great, gentle and effective.
If you want to try taking Soy Isoflavones, drop into Organico, we have some samples to give out so you can try them for a few weeks to see if they suit you. We also have a fantastic booklet by Eileen Durward called The Menopause that we can give you, it goes through lots of symptoms and how to deal with them naturally.
Overall, stay optimistic and remember that the Menopause can be really a really positive time – honestly, it’s a long time since I’ve felt this good about life, about my body and about the future. Ideally it’s a time that women get to focus on themselves, rather than looking after everyone else.
If you need help with perimenopause symptoms, email me and I will send you links to our Period Health and Menopause webinars – they are both full of useful information. And it’s never too soon to start taking care of your health – so do whatever you need to do, whether that’s finding a Herbalist, getting a course of Acupuncture to balance your hormones, or making those dietary changes you know will make all the difference.
Have a good month and see you in July!
Organico Shop Deli & Bakery is open from 9 – 6pm Monday – Saturday, on Glengarriff Road in Bantry. Call us on 027 51391; email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and buy online from us on www.organico.ie.