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Eat Right to Manage Menopause
"Many women have hot flashes at night that might be mild enough that they're not aware anything's happened," says Parker. "But their sleep is interrupted and they don't get enough REMs [the indication of deep sleep]." The result is that these women experience additional symptoms from the sleep deprivation. A healthy dose of soy in the diet may be able to help women sleep more soundly.
Aerobic exercise is also important, says Parker, because it releases endorphins in the brain, which calm the body and mind, helping a woman feel rested and ready to meet the challenges of a busy life.
Although he doesn't prescribe herbs or natural remedies himself, Parker refers women to homeopathic doctors. Based on patient feedback, he believes that remedies like black cohosh, evening primrose and raspberry leaf tea can make a difference in the duration and severity of hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.
Kate LaFrance, a newspaper columnist, is convinced. Seven years ago she began to have night sweats, waking up "drenched head to toe and thinking this menopause thing was going to be hell."
"I really abhor taking chemicals and I have a low tolerance for most medications," said LaFrance. She decided to try a natural approach, taking tinctures of motherwort and dandelion every day for about two years. "These things aren't instant and it takes about 30 days to build it up in your system, so give it time," she cautions.
Her symptoms have now all but disappeared, she says. But the best thing about her regimen was the feeling that she was participating in her own health.
"It gives me ease of mind, a sense of control. I feel good psychologically, knowing that I'm doing something really good for my body."
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