Response to question’s posed by Rachel Holland for her article in Dance UK (November 2010 issue)
Dancing through the Menopause:
How dancers in general can safeguard themselves against health concerns associated with the menopause and continue to dance healthily, whatever their age.
“How is the menopause likely to affect the dancer and in your experience, what are the health concerns associated with the menopause, and which ones would especially apply to dancers?”
For the dancer, common symptoms associated with menopause will differ in intensity from individual to individual.
The adrenal glands provide vital hormonal support. During menopause if the adrenal glands are depleted, menopausal symptoms can be exacerbated. Emotional stress and anxiety as well as excessive exercise and physical over exertion, injury, chronic pain and insufficient sleep can lead to adrenal dysfunction.
Inability to think straight is sometimes a symptom associated with the menopause. For dancers needing to be on top mentally to remain focused on a performance this may be an issue.
Hot flushes and night sweats, again can interfere with a dancers’ ability to remain focussed during training and performances with lack of sleep causing mental depression and energy depletion.
Menopausal and pre-menopausal women can experience thinning of the outer urethra from lack of oestrogen. This can cause burning pain during urination and discomfort when moving, walking or dancing. This symptom can be mistaken for a urinary tract infection, leading to prescribed antibiotics when they are not required.
Women with a history of amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) especially due to low body fat, seen in dancers and athletes, are at greater risk of osteoporosis. However weight-bearing exercise helps to increase bone density.
“How can dancers safeguard against these?”
Safeguarding against these symptoms and changes to the body is best approached on a variety of levels. When diet, lifestyle and unresolved issues are addressed, and nutritional supplementation and holistic treatment including homeopathy is explored the dancer will be supported through the menopausal transition naturally and will be in more control rather than at the mercy of symptoms.
A nutrient rich whole-food diet is recommended. Drinks high in phosphates like cola and other fizzy drinks are best avoided. Limiting smoking and alcohol and caffeine intake is recommended for those with a higher risk of osteoporosis.
Homeopathic treatment can provide effective support and is safe to use alongside herbal, nutritional as well as conventional medication for women experiencing pre-menopausal and menopausal symptoms. It is always best to seek individual treatment with a qualified homeopath as the most fitting remedy to treat symptoms associated with the menopause will often differ from woman to woman. For female dancers going through the menopause, homeopathic treatment can address emotional as well as physical symptoms that may interfere with performance.
Homeopathic remedies for common menopausal symptoms:
Homeopathic remedies may provide relief of many common menopausal symptoms including vaginal dryness; for Metrorrhagia (abnormal bleeding from the uterus) during menopause; for sudden hot flushes, momentary weakness and great tendency to faint; For thinning hair associated with hormonal imbalance. Homeopathic remedies may also to address symptoms of hot flushes during menopause where the head, hands and feet feel hot, with a sensation of faintness in the stomach. There is a remedy that may help with frequent waking at night and a rush of blood to the head, hot, restless hands and for profuse sweat at night; for menopausal flushing with a feeling of pressure in the head especially with throbbing pains. For a sensation of congestion to head instead of menses, and loss of consciousness a homeopathic remedy is also indicated that may provide relief.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and request a copy of the full article Menopause and the Dancer, which provides information on acute remedies for the symptoms mentioned above.
One tablet can be taken as a dose and repeated as needed up to 5 times in one day. The rule of thumb is to stop with improvement. Let symptoms be the guide as to when to take a dose.
Vitamin and Mineral support during menopause:
Taking calcium, magnesium, boron, vitamin D, vitamin C and trace minerals has been seen to help towards building strong bones. Vital for dancers going through the menopause.
Boron is found in fruits, nuts and vegetables and has been found to reduce urinary calcium loss. It also increases serum levels of 17-beta estradiol (which is the most biologically active oestrogen), which has a positive effect on bone health. Boron supplementation significantly elevates oestrongenic activity. The skeletal system is likely to be the primary recipient of boron’s nutritional benefits. (1-9mg per day is the typical supplemental dosage range)
Magnesium deficiency can severely impair hormone balance in women, which contributes to many cases of PMT. Magnesium benefits the adrenal hormones and can help with symptoms associated with stress response. Magnesium is vital in regulating calcium within the bones as well as being essential for the proper function of muscles. Research has found that osteoporotic women have less bone magnesium.
Beta carotene converts into Vitamin A in the body and promotes strong joints. (Found in carrots, squash and dark green leafy vegetables) Vitamin A supports a health intestinal epithelium, allowing optimal absorption of nutrients.
Manganese is recommended for joint health and is essential to the development and maintenance of connective tissue structures in the joints and bones including cartilage and bone growth and stability.
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa) has been used to alleviate menopausal symptoms by improving vaginal lubrication, reducing depression associated with menopause and hormonal changes, ameliorating headache and hot flushes. The tincture is available from Homeopathic pharmacies, herbal suppliers and health food shops. It also works to thicken the vaginal mucosa, reducing burning pain during urination associated with thinning of the outer urethra.
Dr Schuessler’s tissue salts or biochemic remedies may provide support to the system in cases when there may be a shortage or deficiency in vital mineral substances.
Irregular menstruation, especially if there is a heavy flow and tendency towards anaemia may be treated with one of the Dr Schuessler’s tissue salts, the same homeopathic remedy is also the tissue salt indicated for osteoporosis.
“Any advice on how dancers can best prepare for the menopause?”
To prepare for and make the most of the menopausal transition my advice to dancers would be to firstly embrace menopause as a natural process rather than as a medical condition or deficiency. In the same way that during the menstrual period of a woman’s life PMT and emotional issues that arise around the time of menstruation may be the body’s way of bringing into the open unresolved emotional issues, anger, grief etc, each woman’s experience of the menopause will vary depending on her life experiences, heredity, diet, self-image, relationship with family, partners and work. To minimise discomfort physically or emotionally, resolving stuck issues and energy through psychotherapy, homeopathy, healing, acupuncture or whichever holistic therapy resonates with the individual will support this transition.
In youth the body and mind is very resilient and recovers quickly. As one ages the importance of good diet and nutritional support increases. In preparation for the menopause dancers would benefit from introducing or increasing the foods that nourish the bones, muscles and hormones and even seeking support from a qualified nutritionist for nutritional advice and guidance.
“HRT – a good idea or unnecessary, in your opinion?”
“The natural expression of personal power and wisdom available to women during [menopause] is thwarted and frustrated in our culture. This surge of energy is subsequently turned inward on oneself and can result in many unpleasant symptoms such as hot flashes, depression, mood swings, and a general feeling of being lost and unable to find a new and vital identity……Menopause when understood and supported, provides the next level of initiation into personal power for women. As part of the menstrual taboo, which still lives in our culture, the voice of the menopausal woman is feared and denied. She has been made invisible or encouraged to remain forever young through hormone replacement therapy or other medical intervention.” [Tamara Slayton Reclaiming the Menstrual Matrix: Evolving Feminine Wisdom – A workbook Petaluma, CA: Menstrual Health Foundation p.41]
Holistic medical approaches like homeopathy see symptoms as the body’s way of drawing attention to an imbalance within the system. By addressing the underlying issues that manifest as symptoms, including the common symptoms of menopause, health is restored by the body’s own ability to heal itself. In homeopathy the minimum dose of a remedy can stimulate the healing process. The homeopathic consultation itself can unearth underlying issues that also stimulate the healing process.
There are numerous books available to support women through the menopause, and I recommend getting as much information as possible to empower and inform.
Caroline Myss in her book Anatomy of the Spirit – The seven Stages of Power and healing [Bantum Books] suggests that “women are physical examples of the ongoing life pattern of energy becoming matter through pregnancy, labour and delivery. Women’s life cycle expresses a natural progression of sexual energy. For most women, for instance, kundalini, or sexual-spiritual energy, begins to rise naturally around the age of forty. As it rises it activates the chakras through which it passes. Any unfinished business residing in the lower charkas will make itself known during the pre-menopausal and menopausal years…..” Myss sees hot flushes as blocked energy manifesting itself. This may be unused creative energy, creative conflict, limited sexual pleasure or unexpressed sexual energy.
HRT is an individual choice for each woman. I recommend making an informed choice before embarking on any form of medical intervention. There are many approaches including homeopathy, Chinese medicine and acupuncture, cranial sacral therapy, psychotherapy, herbal and nutritional therapy, plus many more all of which provide support for women wishing to try natural approaches to the treatment of menopausal symptoms, if HRT is not desired. Holistic therapy can provide amelioration from the discomfort of menopausal symptoms while the process occurs naturally, supported, rather than suppressed or suspended by HRT.
I recommend the chapter on Menopause in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom – Creating Physical and Emotional health and Healing by Christiane Northrup MD (Bantum Books). Northrup explores approaches to menopause including HRT in detail.
Candice Joyce is a qualified homeopath with practices in Richmond-Upon-Thames and at Laban Health, Greenwich. She is registered as a homeopathic practitioner with Dance UK. Candice trained as a dancer and physical theatre director and performer before qualifying as a homeopath. Her website www.greendaisies.co.uk provides advice to the dancer and information about booking homeopathic treatment. For those unable to attend a clinic in person due to geographical location or injury, Candice provides an over-the-phone consultation service.
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom – Creating Physical and Emotional health and Healing by Christiane Northrup MD (Bantum Books)
Anatomy of the Spirit – The seven Stages of Power and healing by Caroline Myss [Bantum Books]
Reclaiming the Menstrual Matrix: Evolving Feminine Wisdom – A workbook by Tamara Slayton Petaluma, CA: Menstrual Health Foundation
Minerals Manual – A Solgar Reference Manual
The Society of Homeopaths – The largest professional organisation registering homeopaths in the UK. www.homeopathy-soh.org
Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy for mail order of homeopathic and herbal remedies for menopause
phone mail order: 020 7379 7434 website: www.helios .co.uk