Menopause & Hot Flashes: Do You See Yourself in These Patients?
In Chinese medicine, there’s no such thing as a “menopause” treatment. There are no acupuncture points or herbs for hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, or brain fog.
What there ARE acupuncture points and herbs for are all the various underlying reasons for those symptoms.
Unique patient, unique menopause treatment
The entire basis of Chinese medicine rests on analyzing each patient as an individual. Unfortunately, in modern times – in an effort to standardize the medicine – the tools used to get at the underlying cause of symptoms has become a dying art.
More and more acupuncturists are being taught to administer treatment based on “diseases” or syndromes, handing out herbal formulas “for” headaches, hot flashes, insomnia, constipation, etc.
But that’s not how the medicine was designed to work, and trying to force it into a western treatment paradigm like this leaves one with inferior results.
This blog will list 4 recent patients with hot flashes as an example to illustrate the point. See if you can find similarities between yourself and any of these patients.
Each patient came in for menopausal hot flashes, but also has:
Chronic clear vaginal discharge, frequent and urgent urination, lots of sweat, coldness, and fatigue
Anxiety, inability to settle down, and very slow moving bowels that are normal form
Unquenchable thirst, dry eczema, never sweats, and hard painful bowels
Edema, rarely sweats, and never feels thirsty
From a western perspective, each woman would just be diagnosed as having hot flashes due to menopause, and would all be given the same recommendations. And from a modern Chinese medicine perspective, each of these women would likely get a cookie cutter menopause treatment as well.
But if we analyze each woman individually, we can see that each one is actually having hot flashes for completely different reasons.
By addressing those reasons, we not only resolve the hot flashes, but the other problems as well.
Patient 1: Deficiency causing too much leakage of fluids
This woman is having hot flashes because her body has a fluid metabolism issue, due to the inability to “hold” or “store” fluids. They just leak out where they shouldn’t, as evidenced by the chronic vaginal discharge, frequent/urgent urination, and lots of sweat. This is a “depleted” condition, which explains her fatigue and coldness as well. Her body can’t do its job of keeping fluids where they should be or warming her up, because it simply lacks the energy capacity to do it. By completely ignoring that she was in menopause and instead treating that underlying depletion, her hot flashes successfully went away, as did her fatigue and the other problems.
Patient 2: Stuck Qi causing heat from constraint, causing a “pressure cooker”-like situation
This is a very high strung patient with the opposite problem. She has EXCESS rather than depleted energy, and everything is so tense and tight in her body that her life-force energy gets bottled up. When this life-force energy gets constrained from an inability for her entire system to relax and functions to flow unimpeded; not only can she not settle down, but her bowels get stuck. That bottled up energy causes her body’s normal heat to explode upward, just like in a pressure cooker, which causes her hot flashes. While she sweats with a hot flash, it’s not excessive like with the first patient.
Her successful treatment involved basically releasing the pressure cooker, calming her stress, and allowing her energy and bowels to flow more smoothly.
Patient 3: Dryness creating too much heat
Everything about this patient was dry. She simply didn’t have enough fluids to keep her body cool or to moisten her bowels and skin. So when she hit menopause she had constant overheating. She rarely sweat with her hot flashes or during even intense workouts, because her body lacked the moisture needed to produce sweat. We call this classic “yin deficiency”.
In this case, adding moisture and fluids into her system mainly through yin-nourishing herbs, and making sure she was eating enough moistening/enriching foods, resolved her hot flashes as well as her other symptoms.
Patient 4: Excess Fluids being poorly metabolized
This patient is similar to patient #1, in that it was a problem with her body processing its fluids. In this case though her fluids were being held IN too much – as evidenced by the edema – as opposed to leaking out too much like in the first case. She was never thirsty because her body always felt water logged and already had too many pooled fluids in it. Because her fluids were stuck as edema they weren’t able to perform their function of cooling her body, and she would get hot flashes.
Interestingly enough, although she had a ton of fluids available to produce sweat, since it was locked up in her tissues, she also would not sweat much during hot flashes. In fact it was this inability to sweat that was involved in her fluids being stuck in her tissues. It would be a mistake to conclude that she has fluids/yin deficiency like the last patient, and trying to nourish her yin/fluids would just make everything worse.
Again, by ignoring the menopause as a “cause” for her hot flashes, I instead focused on restoring her body’s ability to absorb its fluids so they would leave her tissues and be accessible elsewhere. Suddenly, she started having a normal thirst and sweat, her edema went away, and yes her hot flashes were dramatically improved as well.
Do you have these or other symptoms too?
I hope this has been helpful in understanding how I would address your hot flashes.
When we can ignore the obvious “cause” of your hot flashes (menopause) and instead put on our detective hats and look beneath the symptoms for what isn’t functioning correctly instead, then we can resolve the issue from the core.
Then, not only do your hot flashes improve, but other symptoms do as well.
If you’d like help with your hot flashes and all the other involved symptoms as well, you can schedule an appointment now with the botton below!