It’s all natural

Naturopath, Herbalist and Nutritionist Melissa Soutar of Tynong in West Gippsland is working on a book to guide women through Menopause naturally.

“I’ve been working on a book to guide women through natural menopause options for some time. It’s based on my experiences and insights from the clinic where a large part of my clientele is women experiencing menopause. So many are looking for answers that don’t involve pharmaceuticals and this will help me expand on my work in a more meaningful way to help women regardless of location.”

Some of the topics covered will include how our hormones work and what the changes mean in terms of possible physical symptoms and health issues. Practical steps will be outlined to allow women to be more proactive in their own health and transition from nutrition, to stress management and mindset, exercise and a variety of natural medicine options such as herbs, specific nutrients, flower essences and essential oils. “The emotional aspect of menopause is particularly dramatic for many women and I’ll go into a lot of detail about how to support your moods and what to avoid. Also covered is why many women gain weight during menopause and what to do, heart and bone health, and insomnia due to hot flushes and night sweats,” Melissa said.

The book will also discuss some of the more recent developments in the understanding of diet in affecting hormone levels and how to be more proactive in reducing risks brought about by declining oestrogen. “It’s designed to take women through the process from the onset of perimenopause to post menopause by providing all the relevant information and what they can do to help themselves. This is going to be of particular value to women who are nearing perimenopause as the importance of nurturing your body and mind to reduce stress and depletion before then has a dramatic impact on reducing symptoms experienced later.”

“Perhaps the greatest deciding factor for me to base much of my practice around supporting women through menopause was the way they were being treated by many doctors. Women were coming in stressed, anxious and desperate because they had been told to go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or antidepressants by their GPs to control symptoms or otherwise to just “get on with it” because they were the only options,” said Melissa. “Women wanted a choice and to be treated with respect and compassion, not for a natural process to be treated as a disease.”

“And that’s the very thing. Menopause is not a disease, yet there is a huge industry revolving around the medicalisation of it and pharmaceutical treatment. As a holistic practitioner it is my job to look at each woman as a unique individual and piece together her story and challenges to work out a plan for her needs. Not to treat her as a set of symptoms. And in menopause this is especially important as there are a number of hormones involved other than oestrogen and it is the combination of them that determines what type of menopause a woman will experience. There are actually twelve different hormone pictures of menopause based on reproductive hormones alone, this is where tailored treatment really comes into its own.”

“There is so very much we can do to help women transition through menopause naturally and safely. A large body of published medical literature exists on the risks of hormone therapy in elevating some cancers and heart disease. And quite rightly, women are questioning whether this is the right option for them. There is no doubt that for those who have gone through premature menopause from hysterectomy that HRT is a valuable and sometimes very necessary tool. What I want to present women with are options that are safe, give them choice and can be tailored to fit in with and complement any medications they are taking. Contrary to popular belief it does not have to be “one or the other” when deciding on therapies for menopause. While many women will decide to choose between pharmaceutical options and natural medicine, it doesn’t have to be this way which really opens up the possibilities available. From including certain foods to help with hormones, using herbal medicine, and understanding the impact of trying to be superwoman and becoming so depleted our body simply can’t cope with the demands on our adrenal glands to produce both stress hormones as well as take over oestrogen production from the ovaries. Every little choice can make a difference.

“There is so much that we can do to improve our experience through menopause and really embrace the gifts that it presents us with if we have the information and guidance to do so. For the change is not a curse as it is so often perceived, it is a time of enormous personal change and potentially growth. As we move from child bearing years and nurturing others, to re-evaluating our roles and purpose in life I have seen women completely change their lives and experience a new joy for life. Some go back to study for new careers, others change paths and find a strength and sense of self they never had before.”