Menopause usually occurs as the menstrual cycle ceases and with it, fertility ends. The average age at which this happens is normally around 51 years, but can occur as early as 40. For some women, this may be an asymptomatic process, but for the majority, symptoms such as the vasodilatory “hot flush” are common, with around 75% of women experiencing this symptom alone. Other symptoms that may be seen here and that may follow the menopause include depression, insomnia, mood swings, irritability, poor concentration, sweating, night sweats, headaches, painful sexual intercourse, vaginitis, a reduction in libido, nausea, urinary incontinence, increased incidence of urinary tract infections, increased hair loss, dry skin and lethargy.
The means by which these symptoms may be minimised include the identification and reduction of exposure to potential triggers ( such as coffee, tea, tobacco, stress,). Regular exercise, mediation, massage, herbs such as Dong Quai, Vitex, False Unicorn Root, Black Cohosh, Korean Ginseng, Wild Yam, Red Clover, Tribulus, Soy, vitamin C and vitamin E, can all contribute to a reduction in symptoms but may take some time to produce an effect. It should also be kept in mind that some herbs have the potential for drug interactions.
As with most health issues, homeopathy has a great deal to offer women suffering from menopause and related symptoms. What follows are brief discussions on some of the more clinically useful homeopathic medicines that have found favour with a number of notable practitioners of this art3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
The symptoms that may indicate the need for Aconite include anxiety, panic attacks, fearfulness, depression, fainting, physical and mental restlessness, hot flushes (particularly in the evening), dry eyes, insomnia, nightmares and tachycardia. A dry vagina and painful intercourse may also be noted here. Symptoms are better for open fresh air, rest, perspiration and movement. They may be aggravated by being in a stuffy warm room, becoming heated, in very hot weather and before midnight.
The usefulness of this remedy may be indicated by anxiety, feelings of insecurity, a feeling as if there were a plug in the throat, a premonition that something bad is about to happen and a need for support and encouragement. The sufferer requires constant movement and frequently needs to stretch. There may be hot flushes with sweating that occurs suddenly as a result of an emotional disturbance, sweating, particularly in the area of the genitals, as well as palpitations, uterine haemorrhage, a burning sensation about the head and ears, or a throbbing headache which is more prominent on the left side. Symptoms are better for open air, exercise, better in open air or cold water, and worse for being in a closed room, heat, and slight causes.
The symptoms that correspond to this remedy include mental and physical lethargy with an overwhelming desire to lie down, excitability, insomnia which is worse from 3am to 5am, constant backache with a predominantly bruised feeling, dizziness, uterine and/or vaginal prolapse or leucorrhoea. Symptoms of venous stasis such as varicose veins may also be seen here. Symptoms are better from continued motion, cold applications and eating and are worse on the left side, from touch and from cold baths or drinks.
Calc carb may be of use where the following are present. Hot flushes that tend to move upwards and are accompanied by perspiration on the face and hands, anxiety (particularly about dying), claustrophobia, agoraphobia, poor memory, confusion, irritability, weepiness, feelings of inadequacy, palpitations, chills, fatigue, metrorrhagia, cramps in the limbs and dry skin. The sufferer may complain that her legs “fall asleep”, that there is backache, particularly in damp weather, swelling of the finger joints, left-sided headaches, tinnitus, and weight gain. Symptoms are better from being in a dry climate, fresh air, warm weather, heat, rest, loosened clothing, and are worse from cold, draughts, changes in the weather, overheating and mental or physical exertion.
The person who responds to this remedy may be talkative, irritable, restless, fearful of disease or death, expresses a fear of insanity and is frequently heard to sigh. She wants to be freed of her social or family ties but fears being alone. There may be symptoms of bipolar depression, feelings of exhaustion, headaches, hot flushes (particularly at 10.30pm), numbness, flooding, sleeplessness, breast swelling, uterine pain, symptoms of rheumatic disorders, heaviness of the limbs and movements tend to be jerky. Symptoms are better for rest, warmth, wrapping warmly and in open air, better for continuous motion and pressure, and are worse in the morning, at night, during a change of weather, as well as worse for standing still or consuming alcohol.
The proving symptoms that apply here include hot flushes, frequent sighing, anxiety which is worse during hot flushes, vaginal sensitivity, severe depression which often alternates with excitability, perspiration occurring in isolated areas, especially during the forenoon. There may be headaches, irritability, emotional intensity, and the sufferer may be secretive or is troubled by a sense of “loss”. Symptoms are better for eating, warmth, change of position, when alone, when deep breathing, when walking, when diverted or distracted. Symptoms are worse from consolation, in the morning, in open air, cold, after food, from tobacco, smoking, worse on the right side and worse for standing.
Lachesis may be useful where the sufferer is talkative, has a thin physique, appears to be of a suspicious or jealous nature, forgetful, resentful, proud, irritable, libidinous, moody, jumps from one subject to another in conversation, experiences anxiety, particularly in the morning, or alternates between excitement and depression and experiences depression which is worse at night and in the morning. There may also be sudden hot flushes, particularly of the face, with heat or burning at the top of the head, profuse perspiration which is aggravated by mental exertion or emotional disturbance, metrorrhagia or bloating. Diarrhoea may also be present, as may haemorrhoids, fatigue, a pounding headache, dizziness, fainting, epistaxis, fibroids, dyspnoea, profuse genital perspiration, uterine pain, and there may also be an intolerance of tight clothing. Symptoms are more commonly seen on the left side and are better in the open air, better for sitting, eating or being alone, and are worse during and after sleep, at night, in warmth and sunlight, on waking, from narcotics, or from touch or pressure. Dr Jennifer Jacobs and colleagues8 found this remedy to be of benefit in a clinical trial for menopause.
In this instance the patient may appear moody, depressed, weeps easily, fears being abandoned, craves consolation and company. There may be an agglutination of the eyelids, dryness of the eyes, leucorrhoea, hot flushes that leave her chilled, night sweats or urinary incontinence. It’s notable that the Pulsatilla type is not thirsty. Symptoms are better in cool, fresh, open air, better for cold food and drink and maintaining an erect posture and worse for warm, stuffy rooms, being indoors, worse from twilight and from rich fatty foods.
The person who may benefit from Sanguinaria often appears to be excitable, angry or irritable, complains of mental fatigue, anxiety, confusion, and feels as if her body is throbbing. There may be sleepiness, hot flushes with a sensation of burning of the ears, palms, hands and soles, red cheeks, itching all over the body, a heavy and painful vaginal discharge, mastalgia, and there is a predominance of right sided symptoms. Symptoms are better for sleep, lying on the back, cool air and passing wind and are worse for light, motion, touch, raising her arms and worse at 3am.
This is a common prescription for menopause, the symptoms for which include fatigue, depression which is worse in the morning, indifference to loved ones, aversion to company or sympathy, irritability, claustrophobia or agoraphobia. Hot flushes that tend to ascend and are accompanied by anxiety may also be seen, as are heavy or droopy eyelids, nausea, profuse offensive perspiration (particularly about the genitals) and night sweats, palpitations, fainting, weight gain despite poor appetite, migraine headaches, hair loss, constipation and chills. Symptoms may also include bloating, morning vertigo, lumbago, menstrual flooding, epistaxis, cloudy and offensive urine, enuresis, a bearing-down feeling in the uterus, uterine and/or ovarian pain, pain on sexual intercourse, loss of libido, and a yellowish discolouration of the skin about the nose. Symptoms are generally better for strenuous exercise, open air, rapid motion, tobacco, firm pressure, darkness and after sleep, and are worse from cold air, dampness, after sexual intercourse or standing. Dr Jennifer Jacobs and colleagues8 found this remedy to be of benefit in a clinical trial for menopause.
Sulphur may be of use where there is depression, nervousness, irritability, fatigue, the sufferer appears to want to cut herself off from others, and there is a craving for sweets. The eyes may water in the morning but dry up as the day progresses. There may be hot drenching sweats, especially about the face, scalp, back and thighs that leave the sufferer thirsty. A sensitivity to heat may be noticed, as may insomnia, palpitations, hot flushes felt in the chest that ascend to the face, a burning feeling in the soles of the feet, tachycardia, left sided headaches, flatulence, diarrhoea, skin eruptions, epstaxis and fainting. The skin appears dry, the legs “fall asleep”, and there is weight gain despite a reduction in appetite. Symptoms are better for open air, warm dry weather, dry heat, walking, motion, darkness, motion and worse from heat, worse in the evening, at night, from a change in the weather and standing still. Dr Jennifer Jacobs and colleagues8 also found this remedy to be of benefit in a clinical trial for menopause.