By Dr. Jennifer L. Franz

As women we must all eventually go through a process called menopause.  Usually at around age 50 this sometimes unpleasant process begins, however, with the ever increasing rise in hormones in the foods we Americans consume, i.e., Milk, chicken, and beef, we are inundated with hormones unnatural to our delicate body systems. Girls are developing breasts at a young age and are undergoing their menses earlier than years prior, and even boys are developing female breasts in some cases.  At the opposite end of the spectrum, women are also beginning to see menopausal symptoms as early as their mid 30s and 40s.  The hormonal system is one of the most delicate systems of our bodies, and is affected by the many stresses we already have in our fast passed lifestyles and environmental stresses.  Menopause is a normal process of aging; however, with these added stresses and extra hormones, the symptoms are often exacerbated and prolonged unnecessarily.  Some of the colorful array of symptoms of menopause are; fluctuating emotions, temperature changes, changes in hunger and thirst, sleep disturbances, and bone loss just to name a few. 

Two major hormones associated directly with the female reproductive cycle are estrogen and progesterone.  These two hormones are the ones that are drastically reduced during menopause.  Decreased levels of estrogen also affects bone density, topic for next months article, and can develop into conditions such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia. 

Estrogen and progesterone are stimulated by the anterior pituitary gland, which is controlled by the hypothalamus portion of your brain.  The hypothalamus is often referred to as the master control of your body, because it regulates and controls so many functions of the body.  The hypothalamus receives its information from the internal organs & visual system through the nervous system that is housed within your spine.  The hypothalamus, in addition to regulating ultimately estrogen and progesterone, also receives information from other sections of your brain as well, such as your thalamus and limbic system.  All these systems control critical, delicate functions of your body such as emotions, sexual desire, thirst and hunger, body temperature, and regulates your diurnal rhythm or sleep patterns.  This master control is very important and is directly linked to your nervous system.  Our hypothalamus receives its information regarding how much, how little, and how often to regulate these hormones through the nervous system that is contained within your spinal column.   Chiropractic specifically deals with your nervous system and spine.   The spine, when under stress, irritates and decreases the function of the nerves that send the signals to control the levels of estrogen and progesterone.  Simple stresses such as sitting for long periods, preservatives in foods, or a stressful day at work, can easily and often cause the spine to misalign.  We are all under many stresses with our hectic  lifestyles, the thought of going through menopause alone is a stress on a woman.  The fact that the nervous system controls all the functions of your body, it is imperative that you get your spine checked by a Chiropractor.   At the Vitality Center located next to Subway off the circle in Downtown Easton, I utilize a culmination of specific Chiropractic, orthopedic, neurological, and kinesiological testing to gather information to specifically analyze your spine and health condition.  Once analyzed, a specific course of treatment is given to remove the misalignments, gently and effectively, which removes the interference to your nervous system.  By removing the interference, your hormonal system can begin to function properly.    Menopause is only one of the many health issues that Chiropractic helps stabilize, as stated in my previous article, and ones to follow. 

In addition to Chiropractic, exercise is also very helpful in maintaining a balanced hormonal system.  Women of any age should exercise for their overall health and well being.  Walking, swimming, and Yoga are top on my list of recommended exercises to help regulate your nervous system.  Specifically Yoga practice, will stimulate and put motion into your spine and joints, as well as encompasses the cerebral affects of breathing.  Weight bearing activities and light weights done properly, will help fight the already present inclination for bone loss associated with menopause.  Supplementation such as natural progesterone in the form of wild yam has also been proven to be effective in increasing estrogen levels.  Soy products have been known to help women with menopause, however, many people have allergies to soy products, as well as often take too much, being that it is now substituted in many products for the lactose intolerant.  If an allergy is present, soy, especially too much soy, will further stress the hormonal system.  Certain allopathic remedies such as Black Kohosh have been recommended from many sources, for it directly increases estrogen levels and may be a natural alternative to the traditional synthetic hormone replacement therapy.  Increasing your natural sources of B vitamins and vitamin E has also been known by many sources to add value for women and the menstrual cycle, as well as those going through menopause.   Generally, natural approaches are better and healthier overall for your body and your well-being, save the synthetics as a last resort, including synthetic sources of vitamins.  Regardless of what approach you take, simply getting under Chiropractic care, exercising regularly,  eating as many “hormone free” foods as possible (read the labels), supplementing with natural progesterone, and getting proper rest will help regulate and balance your hormonal system and help manage and diminish the effects of menopause.  Lack of sleep directly stresses and affects the hormonal system.