Menopause and Peri-menopause Naturopathic Treatment Protocol - Unlocked

Menopause and Peri-menopause Naturopathic Treatment Protocol

This Menopause and Peri-menopause Naturopathic Treatment Protocol is provided as information for  patients of HealthMasters Naturopath Kevin Tresize ND as part of a treatment plan. This information is to assist patients with understanding of their treatment plan. It is important to note that this is a summary only and is intended to assist discussion between practitioner and patient as part of consultations. This Menopause and Peri-menopause Naturopathic Treatment Protocol may be changed to suit the individual requirements of the patient and should not be substituted for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

HealthMasters Naturopath Kevin Tresize ND

Definition: Menopause and Peri-menopause

Menopause marks the end of the reproductive years of a woman’s life, occurring usually between 45 and 60 years of age, with an average age of 51 years. Menopause occurs as the number of oocytes a woman carries reaches their end point with a marked decrease in ovarian oestrogen and progesterone. The transition into menopause, called peri-menopause, commonly lasts for 2-3 years, with common signs of irregular menses, skin changes, mood changes, depression, memory loss, insomnia, fatigue, vaginal dryness and atrophy, changed libido, night sweats and hot flushes, which may be moderate to debilitating in their effects. During peri-menopause ovarian sex steroid synthesis slows and ovulation becomes unpredictable, causing fluctuating monthly patterns until menses ceases completely. Menopause is confirmed with the cessation of periods for 12 months with consistently elevated serum FSH levels and low serum oestradiol. 

Whilst there may be a decline in circulating levels of oestrogen and progesterone (and the ratio between them), this does not reflect the oestrogen and progesterone levels and activity in various tissues. For example, postmenopausal women may sustain relatively high serum oestrogen levels despite declining ovarian oestrogen, as adipocytes (fat cells) become a major source of oestrogen biosynthesis.  

The most common reason women seek treatment for in menopause is hot flushes. The drop in oestrogen is a significant catalyst, but not the only cause. Essentially, hot flushes are a heat loss mechanism initiated by short term vasodilation near the skin to allow the blood to cool and lower core temperature. However menopausal women do not experience higher core temperatures, but they have a narrower thermo-neutral zone. Loss of thermoregulation occurs with low DHEA as a result of chronic stress and accompanying neurotransmitter imbalances, including depleted GABA and serotonin with increased noradrenaline and corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH).  CRH may also contribute to elevated mast cell degranulation, augmenting the vasodilatory response and hot flush severity.

Therefore, stress management during the peri- and post-menopause years is vital.

Aetiology (Cause) / Risk factors: Menopause and Peri-menopause

Factors that may hasten the timing of menopause and worsen the symptoms experienced include:

  • Premature ovarian failure
  • Hysterectomy retaining the ovaries (thought to advance menopause by approximately 2 years)
  • Bilateral oophorectomy (immediate menopause)
  • Smoking (hastens follicular depletion)
  • Radiation and/or chemotherapy used to treat a malignancy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Chronic or acute stress, leading to adrenal insufficiency.
  • Toxicity (pesticides, smoking, alcohol, heavy metals)           
  • Certain medications

    Signs and Symptoms: Menopause and Peri-menopause

    Common signs and symptoms of menopause include the following:

    • Absent menstruation for at least 12 months. (Irregular periods occur throughout peri-menopause)
    • Hot flushes; of the face, neck, and upper trunk, which may be accompanied by palpitations, dizziness, headaches.
    • Night sweats, which may contribute to depression and irritability from insomnia.
    • Cold hands and feet.
    • Vaginal atrophy and dryness may lead to painful intercourse and/or post-coital bleeding.
    • Vulvar pruritis.
    • Urinary tract atrophy, resulting in increased frequency, burning, nocturia, incontinence, and infection.
    • Sleep disturbances and insomnia.
    • Mood changes such as depression, irritability, tension.
    • Memory impairment and loss of ability to concentrate.
    • Skin changes including loss of skin tone/integrity leading to wrinkles.
    • Weight gain and increased central adiposity.
    • Breast tissue atrophy
    • Increased sensitivity to stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine.

    Core Treatment: Menopause and Peri-menopause

    Foundational recommendations for the menopausal transition and relieve menopausal symptoms:

    Support oestrogen levels:

    Oestrogen Lifting Herbs (Metagenics O-Lift) - Acute: 1 tablet three times daily. Maintenance: 1 tablet daily
    PLUS
    Magnesium and Broccoli for Women’s Health (Metagenics FemmeX) - 1 serve twice daily
    PLUS
    Vitamins B5, B6 & C for Stress & Adrenal Health (Metagenics HPA Essentials) - 1 tablet twice daily  

    Addressing HPA axis dysfunction further supporting the nervous system function:

    If with anxiety:

    Herbal Support for Hyper HPA and Stress (Metagenics NeuroCalm)1-2 tablets three times daily

    Insomnia:

    California Poppy and Passionflower for Sleep (Metagenics NeuroCalm Sleep)2 in evening or 1 in afternoon plus 2 1-2 hours before bed

    Magnesium with Lutein and Zeaxanthin for Sleep Pattern Support (Metagenics SleepX) - 1 scoop (5.7 g) in 200 mL of water once daily in the evening

    Irritability:

    Bupleurum Complex for Nervous Tension and Irritability (Metagenics Relaxan) - 3 capsules twice daily with food

    If with low mood or depression - refer to depression protocol 

    Additional Considerations: Menopause and Peri-menopause

    If obese or overweight address body composition

    Shake It Professional Weight Management Program 

    For protection against osteoporosis

    Hydroxyapatite and Soy for Osteoporosis (Metagenics Calcitite Osteo) - 2 tablets twice daily or 1 serve twice daily 

    Vitamin K2 for Bone and Cardiovascular Health (Metagenics Vitamin K2 180) - 1 capsule daily

    If with gut derived inflammation or suspected toxicity

    Refer to Clinical Detoxification Program protocol

    Ongoing nutrition for healthy ageing and chronic disease prevention

    Wellness and Healthy Ageing Program with Healthy Hormonal Diet and Lifestyle hand-out

    PLUS

    Nutrigenomic Support for Healthy Ageing (Metagenics Oxidant Protection) - 1 tablet daily

    PLUS

    High Purity, Low Reflux, Concentrated Fish Oil Liquid OR Capsules (Metagenics MetaPure Fish Oil) - 5 mL (1 serve) daily OR 2 capsules twice daily

    Resveratrol Age Well (Metagenics Resveratrol Healthy Ageing) - 1 tablet daily

    High Strength, Researched Probiotic Strains (Metagenics Ultra Flora Restore Dairy Free) - 1 capsule daily

    Alphabetical Reference of Nutritional Support: Menopause and Peri-menopause

    Formula Catch Phrase Key Benefits

    Bupleurum Complex for Nervous Tension and Irritability

    Based on traditional Chinese medicine for stressed, irritable and moody patients. This stress formula is especially helpful when digestive and other physical symptoms are made worse with stress and nervous tension, such as in IBS.

    California Poppy and Passionflower for Sleep

    These herbs are known for their calming and sedating effects on the nervous system, and can also be used to calm patients with severe anxiety and/or panic attacks. The formula can be used on its own to help manage anxiety attacks and/or insomnia.

    High Purity, Low Reflux, Concentrated Fish Oil Liquid OR Capsules

    Fish oils are consistently shown to reduce inflammation to support cardiovascular and brain health and reduce the neurological impact of stress.

    Herbal Support for Hyper HPA and Stress

    An herbal blend that rapidly relieves anxiety and tension. Including zizyphus and magnolia which interacts with calming dopamine, serotonin and GABA benzodiazepine receptors to soothe nervous tension and agitation. Traditionally Zizyphus was used for hot flushes.

    Hydroxyapatite and Soy for Osteoporosis

    An advanced bone strengthening combination of microcrystalline hydroxyapatite bone extract with an isoflavone rich extract of soy with synergistic nutrients, designed to support bone strength and to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

    Magnesium and Broccoli for Women’s Health

    Magnesium plays important roles in oestrogen detoxification in the liver and bowel, and is also a crucial bone nutrient. Blended with phytonutrients to support feminine wellbeing and help manage menopausal hot flushes.

    Nutrigenomic Support for Healthy Ageing

    A phytochemical, vitamin and mineral formula designed to protect DNA and support healthy ageing, including green tea and grape seed extract for antioxidant protection, and activated B vitamins for nutritional support.

    Oestrogen Lifting Herbs

    Based on a traditional TCM blend to relieve menopausal symptoms commonly associated with chronic stress and adrenal depletion, such as hot flushes, sweating, palpitations and anxiety.

    High Strength, Researched Probiotic Strains

    These scientifically validated strains including Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCFM®) and Bifidobacterium lactis (Bi-07) are formulated to maintain healthy flora and support digestive and immune health.

    Resveratrol Age Well

    This age defying anti-inflammatory antioxidant formula is designed to protect DNA and mitochondria, with high levels of resveratrol, turmeric and quercetin.

    Vitamins B5, B6 & C for Stress & Adrenal Health

    Key nutrients such as Vitamin C and activated B-group vitamins, required to support neurotransmitter and adrenal hormone synthesis, activity and receptor sensitivity. Vitamin B6 specifically modulates glucocorticoid receptor function to reduce sympathetic output and B5 is required for the synthesis of cortisol.

    Vitamin K2 for Bone and Cardiovascular Health

    The skeleton undergoes a constant process of remodelling. Vitamin K2 plays an essential role in bone development and maintenance via functioning as a cofactor in calcium metabolism.

    Diet and Lifestyle: Menopause and Peri-menopause

    Dietary and lifestyle guidelines that may assist in the management of menopause include:

    • Consume dietary phyto-oestrogens to manage symptoms, and prevent cardiovascular, skeletal and cancer risks of ageing. Examples include soy foods, linseeds, etc.
    • Regular weight-bearing and aerobic exercise supports fat burning, muscle strength and bone mineral density.
    • Identify areas of diet and lifestyle that may be inducing inflammation and stress with the free Health Appraisal Questionnaire.
    • Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can help to reduce menopausal symptoms.
    • Relaxation techniques can help diminish symptoms associated with menopause.
    • Reduced caffeine and alcohol consumption.

    Supportive Lifestyle Programs: Menopause and Peri-menopause

    Supportive Lifestyle Program

    Description

    Shake It Practitioner Weight Management Program

    This carbohydrate-restricted Ketogenic diet is a hypocaloric fat loss program for those with insulin resistance, who will usually also be overweight or obese. Reducing dietary glycaemic load will reduce insulin release and help patients lose fat, particularly visceral adipose tissue, thus helping to minimise the risk of many chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular – metabolic diseases.

    Metagenics Clinical Detoxification Programs

    Female hormonal health is highly dependent on effective liver and bowel clearance of oestrogens (and other steroid hormones), as well as effective detoxification of environmental toxins. The questionnaire helps to determine the most appropriate prescription for patients with three different 4 week detoxification programs.

    Wellness and Healthy Ageing Program

    Recommending a low glycaemic diet with lifestyle with exercise and effective stress management, are all factors associated with healthy ageing and chronic disease prevention. Scientifically shown to improve health, quality of life and to reduce the biomarkers associated with ageing.


    Pathology Tests: Menopause and Peri-menopause

    PATHOLOGY TEST INTERPRETATION GUIDELINES
    Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)

    FSH stimulates follicle development in the ovaries and is often used as a gauge of ovarian function.

    Normal Values:

    Menopausal female: 20-100U/L

    Luteinizing Hormone (LH)

    LH triggers the release of the ovum from the ovary – increased levels are seen in menopause.

    Normal Values:

    Menopausal female: 15-100U/L

    Oestradiol (E2)

    Oestradiol is the main oestrogen produced by the ovaries in response to LH and FSH.

    Normal Values:

    Menopausal female: 70-200pmol/L

    Progesterone (P4)

    Progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum after ovulation and is required to stimulate endometrial growth. Reduced progesterone levels are seen in menopause due to anovulatory state.

    Normal Values:

    Menopausal female: <6nmol/L

    Omega-3 Index Test A validated test that measures red-blood cell (RBC) EPA and DHA status to personalise supplemental and diet practitioner recommendations, as well as identifying those at risk of health conditions associated with omega-3 deficiency. An Omega-3 Index in the desirable range of 8%-12% is an indicator of better overall health.

    Pharmaceutical Treatments: Menopause and Peri-menopause

    • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Hormones (oestrogen, progesterone, or both) are given to women after menopause to replace the hormones no longer produced by the ovaries. Also called menopausal hormone therapy.
    • Oestrogen: included as part of HRT treatment, this hormone relieves hot flashes and vaginal atrophy, improves lipid profiles, and retards osteoporotic bone loss, lessening the incidence of fractures. Oestrogens are available in natural (equine) and synthetic forms.  However, studies on the use of synthetic oestrogen suggest that it increases the risk for breast cancer, uterine (endometrial) cancer, thromboembolic events, gallbladder disease, and asthma.  Side effects include bloating, nausea, and breast tenderness.  Oestrogen can be administered in varied ways: oral; sublingual; transdermal patch; vaginal cream, suppository, or ring; or injection. 
    • Progesterone: Progesterone, like oestrogen, may be natural or synthetic. Synthetic forms— progestogens—are included as part of HRT treatment, in combination with oestrogen in women with a uterus to prevent endometrial cancer. Side effects of progestogen use include bloating, depression, and breast tenderness.  The addition of progestogen to the hormone regimen may obviate the potential cardiovascular benefits of oestrogen.  
    • Testosterone: provides another option to menopausal women if used in small amounts in combination with oestrogen.  The addition of testosterone may improve bone mass, sexual drive, and mental alertness.  Side effects include hirsutism, acne, fluid retention, anxiety, and depression.