A healthy mid-life means an easier menopause

The most important thing to know about the menopause is prevention, so if you are a woman in your midlife, getting the support and balance you need will help you in your menopausal years. This blog aims to explains the menopause in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) terms, and gives indicators on how you can support yourself as well as receiving treatments in-clinic.

As a therapist with a predominantly female clientele, and a 40-something woman myself, I have a particular interest in this subject. Many women suffer with the two main symptoms of menopause: hot flushes and dryness (an excess of heat and a lack of moisture). In addition to these symptoms, women can also feel emotionally unstable, have difficultly sleeping and concentrating, experience frequent headaches, feel lethargic and tired, irritable, anxious, depressed and nervous.

Although the menopause usually comes at around the age of 50, the decline in the ovarian follicles and in oestrogen occurs throughout our lives. The number of follicles at birth has already halved by puberty, and continues to decline up to the menopause. Thus the menopausal symptoms can start to appear at an earlier stage in life, so we are never too young to take notice.

In TCM, from our conception, our Kidneys store our vital life essence (Jing). Jing circulates over long periods, dominating our developmental stages (usually 7 year cycles in women and 8 year cycles in men). Our Kidneys dominate growth and reproduction. They also dominate water metabolism and bone, and produce marrow (brain). So you can see that our Kidney energy is very important in not only giving us our life force and will-power, it also governs our reproductive systems, and works closely with the lungs to moisten the body, as well as strengthens our skeletal system. These are all closely linked to common health problems in women (osteoporosis, dryness, infertility, irregular menstrual cycles and fatigue to name a few).

Thinking about menopause, anything that will weaken our Kidney energy is going to have an impact on our menopause. Our busy modern day lives seem to dictate a very stressful way of living. For example, parents going out to work as well as looking after children will often feel overwhelmed and unrested, causing tiredness, fatigue and irritability. Tobacco smoking will “burn fluids” and dry out moisture. Irregular diets high in beige carbs, processed foods and sugars will create “phlegm” (this is a TCM term for thick stagnation). Too much tea, coffee and alcohol is very “yang” in nature and therefore will add heat to the body and thus aggravate symptoms such as hot flushes. Not enough fluid/water intake will have an effect on moisture levels. Emotional stress will also deplete Kidney energy.

As women, we need to create space in our lives to allow balance. We need to replenish our Kidney energy with enough rest between busy times, we need to eat and drink in moderation and eat well; foods that are nutrient dense and foods that add moisture. Drink enough fluids. Only do what we can comfortably do and don’t over stretch ourselves. If we do all of this then we will naturally regulate our day-to-day emotional stresses, but anything lying deeper should be dealt with and not “carried” as this will also deplete the Kidneys, as well as create excess Heart energy adding fire/heat, exacerbating hot flushes, irritability and dryness.

If you are interested in receiving some acupuncture or reflexology sessions please contact me directly for an initial chat.

Jackie Marsden is a Reflexologist, Acupuncturist and Foot Reading Practitioner, based at Elder Cottage Clinic, Warton, Preston, PR4. She is a full member of the Association of Reflexologists.

[Perspectives in Foot Reading #1] looking at the groin

Here we have a Fire marker – the popped anterior tibial tendon. This dorsal area of the foot is the general reflex for the pelvic region, including reproductive system, inguinal region and lymphatics, and the muscles and bones of the lower core.

The popped tendon indicates potential pain, inflammation, overuse and increase in muscular tension somewhere in this area.

The excess tension here has created a little cave just below the popped tendon, indicating strain, fatigue and weakness. The little cave would be regarded as an Air marker, and this would make sense that the Fire from the inflammation is leaving deficiency (burnt out).

In addition we can also see an inflamed and over-protruding lateral malleolus (ankle bone) showing that the hip is also affected.

This male client suffers with groin pain on the left side, stemming from a childhood injury (a tear), and continues to have problems while playing sports.

To balance Fire we want to reduce the forest fire to a gentle hearth-side glow, so activities like restorative yoga and gentle swimming would be recommended. Other activities such as Tai Chi might also benefit. In addition, ensuring hydration and diet are optimal.

From a mental/emotional perspective, this would indicate fiery and inflamed relationships with family and those whom we are close; sparks could well be flying and as a practitioner I tread very carefully. Venting and letting off steam about these issues would help, either with a neutral party or by journaling. Routine and boundary setting within the relationship is also needed, as a raging fire can easily get out of control.

Once the Fire has gotten under control, it is then time to gently nourish and strengthen the remaining deficient terrain.

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, clinical acupuncturist, and foot reading practitioner, working from Elder Cottage Clinic, Warton, nr. Preston.

Foot readings are offered in clinic and remotely. 

 

[Book Review #1] Everything You Need You Have

I recently discovered this little gem of a book while browsing the local library.

Gerad Kite’s Everything You Need You Have: How to be at home in your self is such an easy read, yet so powerful in places with little nuggets to take away and use on a daily basis. It’s simplicity is what makes it so special.

There is also an alignment with the Five Element Theory which also interested me after studying and qualifying in Clinical Acupuncture last year. The natural movements of life according to the tangible elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water (see summary below).

So, I invite you to join me “At Home” and you will be at home in your self. Because, what we’re looking for simply isn’t out there – it is within. We believe that we have to be busy, doing stuff, achieving things, in order to be successful. But really there is no such thing as success – these are just events playing out, finding their way, following natural law.

We have ended up living almost exclusively “in the head”. Standing in the place of “I think” limits us in time and space and for many people great suffering and pain. We have forgotten how to retreat from our thinking minds and take pleasure in the bliss of simply being alive – to “be”; and to know that one’s existence is so much more than mere sequence of events that plays out before us, confirming that we’re “somebody” with a “life”. I find this so humbling and so profound, and also very useful.

It is useful because, when one gets caught up in life’s day to day stresses, or worries, or emotional burdens, it is liberating to retreat back to “Home” (although we never really left) and observe what we are thinking, feeling, experiencing. This is the true essence of life. It is the awareness that what we are going through is simply not real: it is transient and changeable. The quality of Home is peaceful and permanent.

As a reflexologist, offering clients the opportunity to simply relax and enjoy the power of touch is where a lot of healing can take place. And surely this is offering or opening up a path towards “Home”? Switching off the mind and focusing on “the now”. For the past and the future are there by virtue of memory and fantasy – courtesy of the mind – and neither are real in “the now”.

Gerad gives the reader insights, exercises, tools of  how to re-discover Home within your self, and also examples of clients he has helped throughout his career.

Enlightenment is beyond mundane tasks, but it is found within them.

Short Summary of The Law of Five Elements

Gerad states “The unique balance of the five elements that create and maintain you are the gift of your life. This is the foundation and reality of who you are. You are  both a unique form and an integral part of Univeral intelligence, flow and evolution.”

Wood (Liver and Gall Bladder)

  • Get up and grow
  • Renewal
  • Timidity to belligerence
  • Perspective

Fire (Heart)

  • Joy of “Being”
  • Be open to things and experience them from Love
  • Joy emerges from the compassion of Home
  • Easy forgiveness
  • Healthy boundaries (and knowing these)

Earth (Spleen and Stomach)

  • Satisfaction
  • Natural motion “give and take”
  • Identify our needs
  • Integrity
  • Reciprocity, sharing and caring, giving and receiving

Metal (Lung and Large Intestine)

  • Gives the whole cycle of life its value
  • Importance of letting go of all attachments
  • Understand the impermanence of our outer life
  • Root in the quality of the present moment
  • Self value and worth

Water (Kidney and Bladder)

  • This is the base element: death, regeneration and survival
  • The closest we can get to Home
  • The origin of all life
  • Simplicity of Being
  • Stores our essential nature
  • Primitive and True
  • Who are you?