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5 Natural Ways to Manage the Anxiety of Peri-Menopause

peri-menopause

Peri-menopause is a natural stage of life that every woman goes through. But it’s only women who have experienced menopause that understand how life altering it can be. What most women don’t know is that the symptoms typically associated with menopause are actually more prevalent in the years leading up to menopause, a period of time called peri-menopause.

During peri-menopuase, female sex hormones are in flux, with levels of estrogen dropping dramatically, causing a cascade of effects on everything from mental clarity to bone health. That’s because estrogen plays a role in a wide range of physiological functions. For many women, one of the most distinctive symptoms of peri-menopause is a heightened level of anxiety. In some cases, panic attacks can also occur.

For some women, cannabis may help alleviate this anxiety. Cannabis isn’t the only natural way to manage the anxiety of peri-menopause but it’s definitely growing in popularity amongst women who live in countries or states where the plant is legal and easily accessible. How does cannabis help peri-menopausal women and what are some other natural ways to treat the anxiety of peri-menopause?

Symptoms of Peri-Menopause

The list of peri-menopausal symptoms is long and includes:

  • Hot Flashes
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Mood Swings
  • Insomnia
  • Back Ache
  • Joint Ache
  • Facial Hair
  • Dry Skin
  • Low Libido
  • Dry Vag
  • Increased Urination
  • Fatigue
  • Brain Fog
  • Muscle Loss
  • Weight Gain
  • Disorientation
  • Lack of Co-ordination
  • Lack of Confidence
  • Depression

5 Natural Ways to Manage Peri-Menopause

1. CANNABIS

A 2020 study found that 1 in 4 women are using cannabis to treat the symptoms of menopause. This study revealed that women were choosing cannabis to treat the symptoms of menopause above hormone replace therapy and other conventional medicines. Due to the lack of information on the efficacy of cannabis in managing menopausal symptoms, some doctors are alarmed by the rise of cannabis use amongst menopausal women.

But there are some relevant studies out there to indicate efficacy. This study on PTSD in female veterans showed that cannabidiol (CBD) products relieved various PTSD symptoms in particular anxiety and insomnia. As anxiety and insomnia are common symptoms of peri-menopause, it makes sense that CBD products can offer relief to peri-menopausal women. The female veterans in the study also used CBD products for irritability and sleep disturbances.

Another study by Washington State University on how cannabis affects states of anxiety and depression reported “significant reductions” in negative feelings, with depression reduced in 89.3% of sessions, and anxiety reduced in 93.5% of sessions.

What’s of particular interest is that the endoncannabinoid system (ECS) is involved in many of the physiological functions that are also influenced by estrogen. For example, the ECS modulates various functions including body temperature, memory, mood, stress, sleep, metabolism and reproduction. Some of the functions estrogen regulates include brain health, bone health, metabolism, blood flow and reproduction. For now, more research is needed to confirm efficacy.

Remember, cannabis is a drug, and a powerful one at that. Also, it’s not going to work for everyone, as some women will find it too potent, leading to feelings of paranoia. It’s necessary to find the right strain or product, and for those who have never used cannabis before, it’s best to start with a full spectrum CBD product. It’s also important to note that the effects of eating cannabis are much stronger than smoking it, so it’s important to consider consumption method too.

2. PHYSIOLOGICAL SIGH

This comes from the lab of Dr. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University who hosts a podcast on Youtube that examines practical ways science can help boost health. He offers a range of hacks for various conditions but has a very specific method for treating feelings of anxiety that could be beneficial to peri-menopausal women.

One of the hacks he recommends is called the Physiological Sigh. What is this? It basically means taking two quick inhales in succession, followed by one exhale. In this podcast clip, he explains how and why it works. He recommends doing this in moments of anxiety or in high stress situations. He says, you only need one physiological sigh to calm your nervous system, and three, at most.

In this podcast, The Science of How To Optimize Testosterone and Estrogen, he talks specifically about how sex steroid hormones affect the body, both male and female, and offers natural solutions to manage symptoms associated with low hormone levels. As well as the physiological sigh, he explains the importance of light, and how natural light first thing in the morning can lower levels of cortisol in the body, reducing stress and boosting feelings of wellbeing.

3. RESISTANCE TRAINING

Exercise is a great way to boost bone health, muscle growth, metabolism and brain function, the same physiological functions influenced by estrogen. It’s not that exercise increases the levels of estrogen in the body but what it does do is boost metabolism, promote bone density and muscle synthesis, and regulate serotonin levels. However, it’s important to note that the type of exercise is important.


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Because bones are weakened and muscles are degraded during peri-menopause, it’s better to stay away from aerobic exercise such as running and cycling, and focus on resistance training such as weight lifting or yoga. If you’re someone who already enjoys running and cycling, rather than cutting them out, it’s better to do them in conjunction with forms of resistance training.

One of the biggest benefits of resistance training during peri-menopause is that it strengths muscles and improves bone mass, which will safeguard against the natural bone and muscle loss that happens as we age. The ideal solution is to find a form of resistance training you enjoy so that you can maintain for the rest of your life. Working out will also balance feelings of fatigue and help you sleep better. Here’s a list of bodyweight exercises that can be done at home.

4. MACA

Maca, also known as Peruvian Ginseng, is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale. The edible part of the plant is its roots, and it’s available in powder or tablet form. In powder form, it has an earthy taste, and can be added to smoothies or soups. For easy consumption, a tablet is better, but find a brand that offers pressed powder rather than a capsule, as capsules may cause stomach issues for some women.

Maca is packed with nutrients including vitamins C and B6, copper, iron, potassium and manganese. In various studies, it’s been shown to mitigate symptoms including hot flashes, low libido, mood swings, insomnia and irritability. It’s also been shown to improve bone health.

5. QUIET REFLECTION

Anxiety is a natural response to the stresses of life. However, during peri-menopause anxiety can be heighten to levels that feel unmanageable, and in some cases, lead to panic attacks. But the body is engineered to ring an alarm bell when anything in the outside or inside environment is not optimal for wellbeing. Which means the anxiety experienced during peri-menopause could be an important sign that signaling the need for change.

The best way to calm an upset nervous system and feelings of anxiety is to take time to sit quietly with the body and talk to it. This may feel odd at first, but the body is way older than the mind. It contains millennia of wisdom that’s available to anyone willing to listen. For women who have difficulty taking time for quiet reflection, cannabis can help. Cannabis is an effective way to switch off the noise of the outside world and tune into the rhythms of the interior world.

FINAL THOUGHTS

For centuries, menopause is a stage of life that women endured in silence. Finally, spaces are opening up to talk about menopause, and share alternative ways to treat its symptoms. No doubt, the rise in women using cannabis to treat the symptoms of peri-menopause, including anxiety, is the result of women sharing tips in modern chat rooms and supermarket aisles. However, evidence from ancient times shows that the cannabis plant has been used by women for thousands of years to treat menstrual issues as well as aches and pains. Today, it would appear that ancient wisdom is coming full circle.

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About the author

Natasha Kerry Smith