Menopause Series 1: Are you a 'Kidney Yin Type?'
In this ongoing series I will post about various syndromes associated with the transition of menopause. The reason chinese medicine is fabulous at diagnosing various ‘types’ of menopausal symptoms is in it’s strength of differentiation of syndromes or patterns. Acupuncturists have some significant options in how they uncover a diagnosis for each one of their patients.
Lets look one of the most common patterns I tend to see in practice. I’m going to talk a bit in chinese medicine terms and translate.
Kidney Yin Deficiency
You ask ‘what is YIN’? Yes it’s the opposite of yang. Yin is our water and our fluid in the body. Think of a well, it has to be an abundant spring to support us throughout life. Often yin deficiency doesn’t happen over night, it’s a long term depletion pattern. Women spend a good part of their life caring for others in many roles (responsible mother, partner, daughter and friend). Overtime this role, the natural decline of sex hormones and probable neglect of self care come to ‘a head’ in the late forties. This may create the perfect storm.
But there are supportive measures you can take, if you look at self care as a priority over others and create a replenishment strategy.
These are some symptoms associated with kidney yin, you may not experience all these symptoms but a ‘small collection’ of them…
Dizziness (feeling light headed) the getting up to quickly
Cheeks feeling or looking at little red (maybe in the late afternoon)
Hot flushes (day heat)
Sore lower achey back
Feeling a bit itchy in the skin
Tends to fall on the side of constipation
Neck & shoulder tension
Feel thirsty in the afternoon
Waking in the night to go to the loo, then unable to fall back to sleep
Here are some lifestyle patterns for this ‘type’ :
Always feeling rushed even when it’s calm time.
Often days include a slight feeling of anxiety which you can’t quite relate to a source.
The calendar tends to be overbooked with too many events.
There is a work hard play hard mind set.
The mind tends to overthink or replay events.
Feelings of frustration often arise and may not resolve easily.
Feeling of guilt when you priorities time for yourself over constantly caring for others
The magic you once felt in yourself has evaporated.
Please stop listening to your girlfriends symptomatic journey or believe because your mother had a real tough time you will. This is not the case, everyone may experience various degrees of symptoms or maybe very few. There is a possible genetic link to the age of when your mother entered menopause could reflect the age when her female children commence this transition but not a link to the severity of symptoms an individual may encounter.
The important suggestion here: there is much research to implicate negative associations with our health to actually worsening our situation. Never underestimate the power of the mind and positive mind set to alter the course of what you believe will happen.
Track your patterns to determine if certain lifestyle choices make the condition worsen. Why not purchase a nice journal to jot notes in?
What’s your wine consumption like?
Many women report by cutting wine notable reductions with hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia. Refer to my other article on my website to explain why this is from a physiological reasoning.
How much coffee do you consume daily?
For 'kidney yin type' coffee will contribute significantly to patterns of anxiety, feeling short fused and sleep disruption. The answer…. Yes your right, reduce coffee consumption until you can stop it entirely. It’s upsetting I know (big fan myself) you might consider a six month holiday from the bean and reap the rewards. After this point possibly re introduce one cup mid morning and really celebrate the joy from the taste and ritual time of celebrating that cup.
Decaf, yes that’s an option but the best quality you can buy. To strip coffee of the caffeine there are alot of chemicals involved. Choose Swiss water process.
5:00 PM Hot Flushes?
Time & time again many women explain hot flushes seem to worsen around 5:00 pm. If this is a pattern you experience check in with how much activity you are doing after lunch? Are you running around picking up kids or grandchildren, weeding the garden or taking on too many meetings in the afternoon?
You may have to look at a more slowed down approach which works for your life at this point. Heat flaring in late afternoon is a clear sign your yin energy is weak. Yin is our coolant in the body, yang is the warming element. One of the best ways nourish yin is to slow down.
What does slowing down mean?
This can represent many practices, but the most important thing is actually to schedule and take time to do an activity that nourishes yin. Here are a few options:
Walking in nature
Doing some form art (which you don’t find frustrating!)
Understanding 'everything' will get done.
Often thirst will start in late afternoon, I suggest drinking water from the morning to balance dryness. Reducing and cutting coffee will help with thirst as coffee has a very drying and warming energy. Make your water a bit more exciting, add some lemon, lime, mint, edible flowers from the garden. Or brew a herbal tea, cool it, yum! When your yin becomes a bit more balanced you may find overall dryness to lessen.
There is alot of value to journalling. Why? Several reasons such as reducing stress, improves your immune function, keeps you memory sharp, boost your mood and strengthens emotional functions. Need more research… Gratitude journalling is another great option, I use the 6 Minute Diary and literally it takes me 3 minutes in the morning and 3 minutes at night and it really has been amazing.
Libido & garden dryness
Libido can tend to fade during menopause which can cause stress in intimate relationships which supported a healthy sexual relationship in the past. I often get asked about how to get the connection back again?
Sex drive decreases gradually with age in both men & women, but women are 2 to 3 times more likely to be affected by a decline in sex drive as they age. However, effect of age can also boost interest in sex at midlife. This might be due to a liberated new freedom from contraception and new privacy if your children have left home. Often perceptions of sex are tempered by personal attitudes, culture, religious beliefs, family, friends and media influences.
If you feel like you are loosing a bond with your partner consider looking at what your influences are? Do they serve you?
Although hormones have a role to play, research has shown decreased desire is often multi-factorial. A large scientific study of US women with low sexual desire found they were most likely to be troubled by their lack of desire if they:
Currently were in a relationship with a partner
Were 35 to 64 years old
Thinking about this research it might direct one to look at their emotions, in the world of chinese medicine unexpressed, unbalanced and a constant emotional blocks cause disease. In this case disease refers to physical and emotional symptoms. If you resonate with any of those why not consider expressing thoughts in your journal?
During the period of peri menopause oestrogen reduces which is the causes of garden dryness and itching. Vaginal mucous becomes less acid when oestrogen levels decrease. There are vaginal oestrogen preparations you can use to reduce but they are not a natural option. Natural option: try a lubricant which is paraben free, plastic free and non fragrance. There are lots of options available.
Chinese medicine dietary therapy is fantastic! For many conditions there are specific foods which nourish a substance which is deficient in the body. In order to nourish yin dietary changes or additions need to be taken. I hope this won’t seem like a chore, but more of a lifestyle change you can get excited about. This is a gradual process and learning to add certain foods to benefit you will eventually become second nature.
Foods to rebuild your Yin!
Aduki beans, almond oil, apple, asparagus, avocado, barley, banana, beetroot, black beans, black soya bean, black sesame seed, black fungus (wood ears), blueberry, blackberry, bone marrow, *butter, *cheese, chicken, clam, coconut, courgette, crab, cuttlefish, duck, eggs, flax seed oil, frog, honey, kidney bean, kelp, lemon, malt, marrow, mango, melon, millet, *milk, mulberry, mung bean, mushroom, mussel, nettle, nuts & seeds, oats, olive oil, oyster, pea, pear, pineapple, pomegranate, pork, pork kidney, potato, rabbit, rice, royal jelly, sardine, seaweed, sesame, spelt, Spanish mackerel, spirulina, spinach, string bean, sweet potato, squash, squid, tofu, tomato, watermelon, wheat, tofu, tempeh, yam, *yoghurt
These are the basics and won’t suit very person, rich foods need to be eaten moderately, if you have a damp condition you may need to consume less dairy, banana, cheese and pineapple.
Foods & other things to avoid:
Warming drying pungent such as: chillies, curry, garlic, ginger, onion, shallots (scallion), leeks
Spices: cinnamon, basil, clove, wasabi
Drinks: coffee, tea
Meats: lamb, veal, pigeon, prawns, game birds
Other: lemons, vinegar, pickles
Cigarettes, alcohol, vitamin B, corticosteroids, non steroidal anti inflammatories
Recreational drugs: amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy
*A word about dairy: when the notes refer to dairy products this should be consumed in small amounts. They should be good quality (organic only) and can be from cow or goat. Dairy is helpful with dryness symptoms.
Get your 5+ veg per day
Is your five a day mostly consist of fruit? Try to eat most of the five in vegetables and have a few pieces of fruit. Green leafy and root vegetables are a really important source to boost your yin.
Ways of cooking:
Steaming (keeps in fluids), stir frying, use lots of water in soups and stews. Try not to roast often, it pulls out moisture in foods.
Take a blood tonic:
Spa Tone with apple (you need to have Vit c for iron to absorb into the blood stream)
Drink bone broth every day
Not enough time to make it? Try Paleo Bone Broth
Try complimentary therapies for support:
Of course speaking from an acupuncturists point of view and having treated various stages of peri to menopause in my clinic, I have often observed positive outcomes for many women. Consider a course of six treatments, often scheduled weekly to initially start to reduce symptoms. This also involves support with many of the lifestyle changes mentioned above, of course no one is the same so advice is tailored to each patient.
I follow strict COVID guidelines set out by the British Acupuncture Council and I am accepting new patients in the month of August.
Initial consultations are 2 hours can be done virtually for an hour to record your health history and then a treatment can be booked. We can also book this 2 hours session in person. Follow up treatments are 1 hour.