The menopause represents the gradual process of the end of menstruation for women. It is a natural life-transition although in conventional medicine it is often seen as a ‘disease’ requiring medication. The menopause can produce irregular, heavy or painful periods, and problems such as hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings, concentration and memory problems, vaginal dryness, fatigue, depression, headaches, heart palpitations, loss of libido, weight gain, and much else.
CONVENTIONAL MEDICAL TREATMENT
Most women will know that up to about 2007 ‘the Menopause’ was routinely treated by HRT (Hormone Replacement) drugs. These were said to be ‘entirely safe’ - long after many people realised they were linked with caused breast and cervical cancer, heart attacks, strokes and blood clots, and were also to an increased risk of dementia. In 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative, described as “the largest and best designed federal studies of HRT”, began, but were stopped in 2007 when women taking HRT had significantly increased risk of dying from these drug-induced diseases.
The NHS Choices website now states that the main treatment for the Menopause, if the symptoms are severe, is - HRT! So the main treatment used in conventional medicine for Menopausal complaints is a drug that has been found to be deadly!
NHS Choices also describe some other treatments, including:
- Tibolone - a synthetic steroid hormone drug that “acts in the same way” as HRT. It should be noted that this is a treatment that the FDA (the USA drug regulator) has apparently refused to approve. However, despite this, in the UK it only “carries some small risks, including a small increased risk of breast cancer, cancer of the womb, and stroke”. Patients should ask why a treatment in one country is more dangerous than the same treatment in another!
- Clonidine - this drug was apparently designed to treat high blood pressure “but has been found to reduce hot flushes and night sweats in some menopausal women”. However, as NHS Choices continues:
“Clonidine can cause unpleasant side effects including dry mouth, drowsiness, depression, constipation and fluid retention”.
It is uncertain why the side-effects of Clonidine are described as ‘unpleasant’ whilst those for Tibolone are considered to be just ‘small risks’.
- Anti-depressants - presumably these drugs are used to treat the mental and emotional outcomes of a bad menopausal experience than to treat the condition itself.
- (For an outline of the adverse reactions of Antidepressant drugs, go to this link).
Whilst conventional medicine over the years has been dominated by men, Homeopathy has always been heavily influenced by women, and perhaps largely as a result has focused quite significantly on ‘women’s ailments’ such as the Menopause. These homeopathic remedy descriptions, for instance, have come from the website “Homeopathy for Women”, one that women should all know about.
However, whilst these brief descriptions give only a general, outline picture of each remedy, and it is important to state that finding the correct homeopathic remedy, that will work effectively with such a variable condition, is a highly complex professional task, and should be done only by a qualified, registered Homeopath.
This remedy can be useful if flushes of heat during menopause are very sudden and intense. Pulsation or throbbing may be felt in the head, or any part of the body. A heavy flow of blood that feels very hot appears with some periods. Although the woman may be fairly stable emotionally, short bursts of anger can occur during headaches or in stressful situations. Migraines, blood pressure fluctuations, and a craving for lemons or lemonade are often seen when this remedy is needed.
This remedy may be helpful to a woman with heavy flooding, night sweats and flushing (despite a general chilliness), as well as weight gain during menopause. People who need this remedy are usually responsible and hard-working, yet somewhat slow or plodding and can be easily fatigued. Anxiety may be strong, and overwork or stress may lead to temporary breakdown. Stiff joints or cramps in the legs and feet, and cravings for eggs and sweets are other indications.
Women with intense hot flashes and flushing during menopause, along with feelings of pulsation or pounding in the head, may find relief with this remedy. Menstrual flow may start then stop too early, and be followed by a palpitation, surging sensations, or headaches, accompanied by irritability and muddled thinking. Problems can be aggravated if the woman gets too warm or stays in the sun too long, and are often worse from lying down.
A woman who is chilly, pale, and sluggish - with trouble concentrating, and a tendency toward weight gain during or after menopause - is likely to respond to this remedy. Hot flushing and sweats at night are often seen. A person who needs this remedy may also have a tendency toward skin problems with oozing cracked eruptions, and be very slow to become alert when waking in the morning.
This remedy is often helpful for emotional ups and downs occurring during menopause. The woman will be very sensitive,but may try to hid her feelings - seeming guarded and defensive, moody, or hysterical. Headaches, muscle spasms, and menstrual cramps can occur, along with irregular periods. A heavy feeling in the chest, a tendency to sigh and yawn, and sudden outbursts of tears or laughter are strong indications.
Intense hot flushes with red or purplish flushing, palpitations, and feelings of pressure, congestion, and constriction may indicate a need for this remedy. Tight clothing around the neck and waist may be impossible to tolerate. A woman needing this remedy is often very talkative, with strong emotions (often including jealousy and suspicion) - a ‘pressure cooker’ needing an outlet both physically and emotionally.
A woman likely to respond to this remedy feels hurried, anxious, and very emotional - with a tendency to fly into rages and make other people ‘walk on eggs’. She often has a sensation of tightness in her chest, and a feeling as if her pelvic organs are pressing out, which can make her feel a need to sit a log or cross her legs.
A woman who needs this remedy may seem reserved but has strong emotions that she keeps inside. She often feels deep grief and may dwell on the loss of happy times from the past, or brood about hurts and disappointments. During menopause she can have irregular periods accompanied by backaches or migraines. A person who needs this remedy usually craves salt, and feels worse from being in the sun.
A person who needs this remedy is usually soft and emotional, with changeable moods and a tendency toward tears. Women are very attached to their families and find it hard to bear the thought of the children growing up and leaving home. They usually feel deeply insecure about getting older. A fondness for desserts and butter can often lead to weight problems. Changeable moods, irregular periods, queasy feelings, alternating heat and chills, and lack of thirst are common. Aggravation from stuffy rooms and improvement in open air may confirm the choice of this remedy.
This remedy can be helpful if a woman’s periods are sometimes late and scanty, but heavy and flooding at other times. Her pelvic organs can feel weak and sagging, and she may have a craving for vinegar or sour foods. Women who need this remedy usually feel dragged-out and weary, with an irritable detachment regarding family members, and a loss of interest in daily tasks. Exercise, especially dancing, may brighten up the woman’s mood and improve her energy.
A person who needs this remedy usually seems mild-manner, shy, and accommodating, but has many suppressed emotions. Women around the time of menopause may become depressed, or have outbursts of unaccustomed rage (even throwing or breaking things). Many people needing this remedy have deferred to a spouse for many years, or have experienced abuse in childhood.
This remedy is often helpful for hot flashes and flushing during menopause, when the woman wakes in the early morning hours and throws the covers off. She may be very anxious, weep a lot, and worry excessively about her health. A person needing this remedy often in mentally active (or even eccentric), inclined toward messy habits, and usually feels worse from warmth.
RANDOMISED CONTROLLED TRIALS (RCT’s)
RCTs are the third, and decidedly the least important type of evidence supporting Homeopathy as a medical therapy.
There have been a number of RCT tests done on homeopathy and the main symptoms of the menopause.
- Efficacy of a non-hormonal treatment, BRN-01, on menopausal hot flashes.
This trial used a single homeopathic remedy (not the way homeopathy normally functions)
The finding of the trial were as follows:
“(The remedy) seemed to have a significant effect on the HFS, compared with placebo. According to the results of this clinical trial (the remedy) may be considered a new therapeutic option with a safe profile for hot flashes in menopausal women who do not want or are not able to take hormone replacement therapy or other recognized treatments for this indication”.
This trial is considered here in more readable detail!
- Management of distress during climacteric years by homeopathic therapy
This trial, found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22087613, came to this conclusion:
“Homeopathic therapy was found to be useful in relieving menopausal distressing symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, palpitation, depression, insomnia, and so on. Influence on serum levels of FSH, high-density lipoprotein, and low-density lipoprotein was not significant but serum levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and very-low-density lipoprotein decreased significantly. Effect size of the study was found to be large. The medicines found to be most frequently indicated and useful were Sepia, Lachesis, Calcarea carb., Lycopodium, and Sulphur”.
3. Treating hot flushes in menopausal women with homeopathic treatment - results of an observational study.
The findings of this study were as follows:
“The results of this observational study suggest that homeopathic treatment for hot flushes in menopausal women is effective. Further studies including randomized controlled trials should be conducted”.