"Treat the disease, you win some, you lose some. Treat the patient, you always win."
~Patch Adams~

Friday, November 23, 2012

Menopause: Relaxation Good Therapy for Hot Flushes

Good morning, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday yesterday.  I was invited a couple different places but declined as the holiday season is simply not my thing (for a lot of reasons), but I cooked a turkey in the crock pot on Wednesday (I love turkey) and am planning to munch on turkey breast all weekend (good source of protein).  Yesterday I went to an early showing of the movie "Lincoln"-----I highly recommend it.  It's definitely an Oscar contender, and Daniel Day Lewis was amazing as the title character. 

This article from Science Daily jumped out at me this morning.  I do meditate, I don't do it as regularly as I would like to, but it absolutely helps me with relaxation, particularly when my chronic pain level is elevated.  I was meditating even at the time of my worst menopausal symptoms (before I got on the bioidentical hormones).   I can't say I think it made any difference in the frequency or severity of my hot flashes (or as they are referred to in the article, hot flushes). 

A couple of observations after reading the article:

  • It is not completely understood why women have hot flashes, as the article states, the decrease in estrogen certainly plays a role. However, very few articles in the mainstream media ever mention the effects of decreasing progesterone in a woman's body as she ages, and those of us on progesterone know how beneficial it is to have our levels optimized by bioidentical hormone replacement.  I was astonished to have my hot flashes (and they were severe and frequent) stop completely within three days of starting the progesterone cream.  Estrogen replacement only is not the answer for true hormonal optimization. 

  • I'm curious about the women in the study---"60 women who saw a doctor for moderate to severe symptoms occurring at least 50 times a week---but who were otherwise completely healthy".  How was their "completely healthy" status determined?  Was blood work done to eliminate any thyroid imbalances or other hormonal deficiencies?  Thyroid deficiency is way under diagnosed in middle aged women, and way too often not even tested!  None of these women were classified as overweight or obese?  Had they had DEXA scans to rule out any evidence of osteopenia/osteoporosis?  No sleep disturbances (I sometimes wonder if ANYONE can get through menopause without a sleep disturbance, and that certainly affects overall health.) None of these women were taking any medications for anything?  No arthritis? 

  • The data compiled comes from the participant's self reporting to the researchers.  The decrease in hot flashes for the women practicing the meditation techniques is impressive, but did the fact that they were journaling their experiences have any effect on their recollection of the number/severity of their symptoms?  I found it interesting that even the women who didn't practice the meditation routines had a decrease in their frequency of hot flashes.  The meditation also didn't seem to affect the participant's cortisol levels (stress hormone) but to be fair, 3 months might not be enough time to see a significant change in cortisol levels. 
As for the cortisol levels, I know my levels get very high because of chronic pain issues, and I have lived with anxiety and depression  much of my life.  The hormones have helped tremendously, but I also take supplements (Cortisol Manager by Integrative Theraputics at night, and Adrene-Vive by Ortho Molecular each morning).  The combination of the two have dropped my cortisol level by about 30%, right now it's at about 14.  Dr. Carr and I would like it under 10, but if I can get it under 12 I think we would both consider that a victory. 

I get asked if I use meditation programs or "apps" when I do my relaxation exercises, and I do.  I love using Andrew Johnson's meditation apps on my iPhone and iPad, he has a very soothing voice that really works for me.  Try out several different voices and apps to see what best suits you.  I just noticed that Andrew Johnson has an app for coping with Christmas, hmmmm,  I think I maybe need to check that one out!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone.  I will try very hard to update the blog more frequently and regularly, it's been a rough couple months but I think I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.