AACMoy071220023HD Thumb

STOP Treating Menopause and Aging Like a Disease!



So the title of this presentation is to Stop Treating Menopause and Aging like a Disease. And so this is really about embracing the wisdom of East Asian medicine and that holistic perspective of menopause.

Click here to download the transcript.

Disclaimer: The following is an actual transcript. We do our best to make sure the transcript is as accurate as possible, however, it may contain spelling or grammatical errors.  Due to the unique language of acupuncture, there will be errors, so we suggest you watch the video while reading the transcript.

Hi welcome. I’d like to thank the American Acupuncture Council for producing these lives. My name is Tsao-Lin Moy, and I’m a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist located in New York City union Square. Practicing now for 21 years. And today I’m gonna be talking about a hot topic, which is Menopause.

And so we can go to the slide.

So the title of this presentation is to Stop Treating Menopause and Aging like a Disease. And so this is really about embracing the wisdom of East Asian medicine and that holistic perspective of menopause.

By 2030, the world population of menopausal and postmenopausal women is projected to increase to 1.2 billion. This is about one fifth of the world population. So if we’re looking at menopause as a disease, this makes it look like we’re in another pandemic. What this is an opportunity to improve how you help your patients, and particularly women before they actually reach that point of menopause.

So since 2021, we’re looking at half of the US female population is age 40 and older. So this is a mark. This is a whole group of people that are gonna be looking for natural ways to heal and not just go the route of hormones. As practitioners, we really wanna be mindful of what cultural influences are affecting our own beliefs and acting out of the fear of getting old and decrepit because this is all around us.

We see it in social media, we see it on the cover of magazines. Really all the TikTok and, all of the. The Instagram, and I don’t know what else there is because I try not to personally get onto any of those platforms other than to share information. Hopefully the people who need to hear it can actually find it.

But menopause is really, it’s a complex phase that involves biology, physiology, metabolic shifts, emotional, and also social changes in life. Puberty is very similar. It’s biological changes, physiological, metabolic, emotional, neurological, and also social right. We see this in young people finding their group.

And while we don’t call a growth cycle for puberty to be considered a disease, it is often treated with hormonal birth control. And this is the first sign of, painful period or pimples or something young women are giving are given hormonal birth control. And this is very problematic in my opinion.

I don’t think that women should be and young women should be on hormones from the time they’re 14 all the way till through to their seventies. This is also something that shows up in fertility problems with fertility. So just as a review in case you’re not somebody who reads the classics chapter one, my favorite chapter of the Yellow Webber Classic, also known as the Universal Truth, discusses Female Development that follows a seven year cycle.

And while males follow an eight year cycle, So when we start to look at each one of the cycles we see, okay, around 14 years old the fertility arrives or they consider the menses flows and the woman can have can start to bear children. And then we’re also looking at, as we’re moving through to around the age of 35, there starts to be a decline face wrinkles, hair begins to fall out.

So we start to see some of those, so those signs of aging. And it also co corresponds with. The, the struggles with fertility, right? Actually the slide might be out of order, but one of the things that I wanna address is, for most of the time with women’s health, the approach is not changed.

New tools, but basically the same attitude. And that is like hormones, hysterectomies, and antidepressants. Now, what really surprised me, Was to find out that the hysterectomy is the second most common surgery for women in the US after cesarean section. These are estimated to be one in nine mil nine women are gonna undergo a hysterectomy during their lifetime, basically would only be one time, and that’s about 600,000 procedures each year in the us.

So the question is, what does that mean for that connection? The heart and the uterine connection, the bowel line also. Research has found that over a third of women, when they go to their general practitioner with symptoms of menopause, they’re often offered antidepressants and this is really considered inappropriate.

So this is an area where we as Chinese medicine practitioners as acupuncturists can really help women’s health and in fact, women’s health is quite advanced in terms of Chinese medicine. A little review. How does blood yin and yang and chi interact with menopause? We start to look at yin and yang balance becoming a little irregular.

The blood and yin, which we could look at as estrogen becomes depleted compared to the yang and the chi, progesterone, testosterone. And really, so when you start to see the hot flash fluctuations, it’s really this kind of, the way the balance starts to be flipping from one side to the next. Now, until recently in the western world, perimenopause was thought to be around 45 or 50 years of age.

Right before menses would stop because that’s when the hot flashes were occurring. Mood swings. So we look at that, liver chi, night sweats, yin leaking, palpitations, heart blood deficiency. So we, when we look at these symptoms that we can actually look at what kind of patterns are emerging and no, in a women know, women are not quite the same.

Of course there are always. Formulas and recommendations for particular things we still need to look at personalizing. Now, in reality, trans transition into menopause is more accurately beginning 10 to 15 years earlier, and as I mentioned before, around the age 35. Some hormonal fluctuations might start to happen.

Maybe a little bit of irregular hormones and can impact getting pregnant, with fertility. So in terms of, what is that fertility cliff that is talked about a lot I don’t really believe it. And at the same time, if we’re looking at the long view, we’re starting to really look at.

You know what is happening really early on, shifts are happening over time. When it comes to our awareness, that’s when the symptoms are much stronger. So the idea here is that you wanna start treating your patients, talking to them, educating them, especially early on. Also if you have younger patients or your.

Female patients have daughters to really also talk about women’s health, about periods and things that they can do, especially if they’re having painful periods or bleeding or. Other things like acne that we can do a lot for naturally with diet and meditation. Like all of those tools that we have.

So here’s interesting. Studies actually show that even before puberty, which would be around age seven to nine, that there are hormonal surges that are happening, right? It’s just not one day your pubescent and then the next day you get your period. No, actually, Shifts are happening several years beforehand and this is, gives us an opportunity to really help shift the attitude towards menopause.

So this is about this yin and yang dynamic. Really as we’re shifting, just like the season, right now we’re in the summertime, so it’s much more yang compared to, daylight compared to yin of winter. With more winter and darkness, and yet at some point it’s gonna shift again. And of course we see as there are the transitions that there’s a tendency for certain kinds of illnesses to come up for people like allergies or, some colds, winter colds.

So this is to be aware, we’re always in some kind of cycle, a yin and yang cycle. I really like this particular slide because it talk it like shows where, you know, both the hormone levels, where we’re looking at yin and yang, estrogen, progesterone actually follow together, right?

So eventually those fluctuations are going to. Even out, right? So we’re always looking at, our body’s always looking to go into balance. So when one thing looks like, oh, it’s too much yang or too much yin we’re actually really looking at how the body is trying to reach that state of homeostasis.

And so it makes corrections. And eventually though, as you see, like where the blue part is really where most, like a lot more symptoms are happening as the body is shifting and transforming. So here are some of the unwanted symptoms that we find with menopause is, brain fog, hot flashes.

Weight gain, hair thinning, skin sagging, bleeding, emotional ups and downs, palpitations, poor sleep. Really what also starts to happen is like the weaker knees foot problems may occur. This is also because the connective tissue gets affected by hormones. And so you might start to, to see some of that coming in like the and know that.

That can be also addressed with some herbal formulas and acupuncture. But it’s not a disease. Not a disease. So the question is, why? Are menopausal symptoms less prevalent in Asia and other countries, and I’m really comparing like the US and some of the Western European countries.

And, what’s happening, believe it or not, what makes a difference in how women experience menopause? And I also believe puberty, coming of age is the cultural attitude towards health. And aging. So oftentimes we talk about getting a period as the curse or the shame around it.

With young girls, they’re, oh, they don’t wanna talk about it. They get made fun of. It’s something to hide and really not something celebrated in other cultures. It’s really this. Time where you recognize that you’re moving from one stage of your life into the next, and this is a beautiful thing.

So really what studies have shown is that the collective cultural attitude towards menopause plays a major role in emotional distress and physical symptoms. So why do I bring this up? Because. We have to take into consideration, we’re living in a culture that has very negative attitudes towards women’s health reproductive health.

And so the western culture, and then they find that plays a high importance on fertility and also place value on youthfulness in these cultures. Menopause reflects this age progression and loss of youth. And also loss of sexual attractiveness and leads to this negative attitude towards menopause.

There’s so many negative words that are used to describe menopause, such as fertility failure, ovarian failure versus, this is a natural progression as we shift into the next stage, of course You’re not gonna be producing children, this is, there is a window for it, but that’s normal.

There’s, we’re not part of the Handmaid’s Tale. To tell you this, I think. In my personal opinion, that that series like really normalized abuse, that it like the, in fiction becomes real, but that’s a whole other story. But what this is, it’s implying that a natural, something is a natural part of life is really a flaw or a disease.

And when your patients are coming to you, Understanding that the holistic perspective is not going to, or I would say, should not adopt this, cultural idea that it’s bad as you start to get older and mature. KO or Conki means in Japanese renewal season and energy. So in Japan, menopause is looked upon as a natural life stage, and the very word for menopause, the conki means renewal, season and energy.

So why do we have such a negative view of a natural process? While women in Asia eat more fish, less processed and refined foods less sugars, caffeine, sodas, and they walk more, et cetera, et cetera, compared to the average American. There’s also a level of respect for elders, and this is something that I think really need to examine is how we treat older people as they get older.

And one of the things that I would say is this last week I was at a conference and there were indigenous people from the Amazon and they were talking about the experience in terms of indigenous practices, of how much wisdom that elders hold, stuff that is not in a book. And when an elder actually dies.

It’s like the equivalent of the library of Alexandria burning down, right? Because what they hold wisdom that people hold within them is not something that can be reproduced. And because it’s experiential. And I think we have to really look at, as people are aging, that they also are holding a lot of experience and information.

So studies actually show menopause and menopausal symptoms are really tied to a woman’s cultural environment. So if a woman is in unhealthy environment, they’re gonna feel guilty. Shame experience for experiencing something that’s really natural. And leading to. Heightening of their physical symptoms.

It could be like flashing. It could be like poor sleep and also mental, like really heightened anxiety, depression and other countries that positively view aging and I’m repeating. And menopause such as Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, positively, similarly experience fewer unpleasant effects.

So not only does an optimistic and positive environment allow women to feel more comfortable when their cycles come to an end, but it also correlates with an easier transition with menopause. And that is where you as practitioners come in with support and really look at a paradigm shift. Chinese medicine is a paradigm shift, however, We do live in a culture that is constantly intruding on our views and beliefs.

So what can we do? Empowering your patients to cultivate their health and wellness and longevity. So this is really like the long, a long view, which. There aren’t really the quick fixes, right? If you get into hormone therapy, there’re always, there are consequences and side effects with that, such as increased risk of cancer.

So here what I’m encouraging is, To check in with your patients and find out how they’re feeling emotionally with their overall health and really address like, Hey, this. Transition that’s happening. It’s a very, it can be jarring identity, right? Your identity is changing the way cult, the culture, your society is gonna regard you.

And really don’t underestimate the impact that stress and anxiety has on health, and especially around aging and menopause. I think it’s really important to have a, To talk about that in other countries, the viewpoint is very different and we can actually adopt that viewpoint in the way that we actually treat our patients.

So again, intensity of menopausal symptoms will indicate that there might be un underlying imbalances, right? And we call those root causes that are not being addressed. So you’re, if you’re not treating the root C, you know what I wanna say is you’re treating a root cause, not the disease. All right?

If somebody is having flashing, we know that we need to balance their nervous system, like all of that, it’s not a disease. Self-care practices I give my patients homework. Really look at, what you can empower your patients with in terms of. Food, focusing on sleep. Sleep is a huge issue, right?

Because the circadian rhythm is also gonna influence reproductive hormones and overall health. Exercise and movement. Those are things that actually will help with like brain fog, but also movement is something that helps with depression. You start moving, just move your body clear out, clear the stuck energy.

Teacher patience techniques such as breath work for calming calming the nervous system and also I. Those tools, techniques, and tools are really good for managing the vasomotor symptoms, which come with the hot flashes, right? So body flashes and then get excited or anxious about it. That really calming the nervous system is actually gonna help to regulate that part.

Focus on relieving inflammation by eating, eliminating certain foods, eating other foods. I also teach my patients a kind of a self lymphatic kind of practice to help them move the lymph from their body, help to move, swelling, inflammation out. It takes. 40 seconds.

And the patients that do it can’t believe how the swelling in their overall body goes down, right? Because of all of the inflammation weight gain. One of the side effects with hormonal fluctuations is this weight gain. And things like lowered estrogen are attributed to what’s known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Or, con like liver congestion. So really looking at eating foods that are considered, that have more phytoestrogens such as flax seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, right? Actually dried apricots and pr. And the studies show that an increase in soy actually helps reduce fatty liver.

Now there are always these concerns around consuming soy products that maybe it’s going to affect cancer it’s gonna affect the, negatively affect hormones, but those are actually really unfounded. Just discussing possible dietary Suggestions to help with symptoms could be its own presentation.

So I’d like to just, thank everyone who’s listening and please leave your comments in the bottom. And if there are any questions, you can also leave those and contact me and I will, answer what I can. Thank you.