Updated: Jan 8
Back when I started investigating the symptoms of the menopause I decided there must be a 'hot type' and a 'cold type', and I wasn't too far off, even just a little crude in my initial investigations through my Chinese medicine books.
I'm in a group called Perimenopause Hub and a week ago Emily the founder asked 'cold flushes anyone?', and the thread exploded. The main observation was that cold flushes are never talked about, and the silly thing is - this is what I get too! So I was able to answer a lot of questions, and it made me think - No one ever talks about the cold symptoms of the menopause.
It's also what a lot of clients I see have, and yet, it’s not on the list of symptoms, and I've been completely remiss in not addressing that, so this is the start of that - there is such a thing as a cold flush.
So back to my early theory of a hot or cold type menopause - just what is that all about?
Firstly is starts with how you've been temperature wise during your adult life, I always ask - if you're in an office in December, are you the one in 3 layers or still in a short sleeved top? If you're in layers, you're a cold person and you most likely love the summer, if you said the short sleeved top, you're a hot person and prefer the cooler months. If you said 'I put it on, I take it off', then your body isn't great a temperature regulation, but I'd still pop you in the hot category!
WHAT IS A COLD FLUSH IN CHINESE MEDICINE?
Moving through your Peri years, if you're a hot person you're not likely to feel symptoms too much; but when you hit the heat stage, then you know about it. If you're a person that feels the cold normally, the Peri symptoms can really hit you hard - not only the cold aspect, but the fatigue, and with it brain fog, overwhelm, anxiety, and feelings of panic and fear (including increased phobias).
It comes down to something we call Kidney Energy, it’s your constitutional core energy, which is why I look back at the patterns of your life to ascertain why you are as you are now. Kidney energy is split into 2 - Yin and Yang, which I'm sure you've heard of. Yin is our sanity it’s the calming sensible part of us, this depletes in the heat phase, nearer the actual menopause - mood swings and irritability ring any bells?
Yang is our fire, and sometimes it can dwindle, and we need how to stoke it again. Whilst our Kidney Yang energy is low we feel colder, and we get all the associated 'cold symptoms' as I mentioned above. There is also a time of day that this coldness or 'cold flush' is worse - 5 till 8pm (ish)! We're like machines, at certain times of the day certain organs crank into action to do their daily cleansing process. For example, the reason you get night sweats between 1 and 4am is that is when the liver is cleansing your blood, and with the excess toxins and sugars it works harder and this heats you up.
Your kidneys are water based, and they start their daily process around 5pm, and this process runs cold. So you feel colder, if you're naturally a cold person. I normally start to get chilly around 7/8pm at the end of the processing time. The closer to 5pm that you feel cold, the weaker your Kidney yang is, and we need to do something about that.
COLD SYMPTOMS NEED TIME & SUPPORT TO IMPROVE
Heat symptoms are actually the easier symptoms to resolve. It's like inflammation, you have heat and pain, you pop a tablet and it eases. There are no tablets for cold symptoms, only life style changes and support from supplements, and of course therapists who know how to help you!
The one thing I have to impress on the women that come to me with cold and fatigue symptoms is that there is no quick fix, this is a lifestyle change from now until then, there is no diet that will resolve, no magic pill you can pop, it’s about listening to your body, and taking care of yourself from now on.
WHAT WEAKENS KIDNEY YANG AND CAUSES COLD?
I see it as 3 things - how much physical exercise you do, how much stress you've been under, and how you've lived your life in your teens to 30s! There is no judgement in Chinese medicine, only building a pattern. I ask the question 'did you burn the candle at both ends when you were younger'? I did! I was in media, in London, keeping up with lads; it's taken its toll but I realised by the age of 30 I needed to change, or I'd end up being very ill. I did change that lifestyle only to take on another 14 years of extreme stress, which weakened my system further. Now as a full time therapist, I have made the lifestyle changes I needed to make.
I'm not suggesting you change your job if you have a stressful one (well, I am actually!), I do explain how it all builds to the picture you now present, and if you would like to move forwards what we can do about it
MY TIPS FOR EASING COLD FLUSHES
· All your food must be eaten at room temperature or warmer
· Add gentle warming spices into your food, like cinnamon, and black pepper.
· Keep your kidneys warm - wear an extra layer in the day, be aware of sitting with your back in the shade in the summer, place it towards the sun, when you get home in the evenings you can pop a hot water bottle behind your lower back, no matter the month. If you feel cold, keep your kidneys warm and you'll feel warmer.
· Reduce Stress - easier said than done, but you can help your nervous relax and replenish by taking Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng). Plus multivitamins and magnesium, the vital nutrients that are leeched from your body during these years.
· Cut down on extreme exercise - if you're hitting the gym 5 days a week this is too much, it’s about the type of exercise, not the quantity. Start replacing Zumba, spin, jogging with yoga, qi gone, and (some) weights.
· Sandalwood essential oil- do you like it? Have you sniffed it? If you have and you do, and you've purchased, then you can inhale it as it has therapeutic qualities that is good for your kidney energy. If you can afford to you can pop a drop over your kidneys and watch it absorb in. You do need to use a specific sandalwood - Santalum Spicatum.
· Receive a therapy, whether it’s to de-stress, relieve physical aches, or to get your energy and circulation working well, Shiatsu which is based on the theory of Chinese medicine really understands how to support you and help your body on the path back to vital health.
FINDING SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS YOU
One of the major issues with your menopause is that no one else quite gets it. GPs can be helpful but still aren't getting where you're at, you may have friends in the same boat where you support each other but are you moving forwards with solutions?
If you're the type of person that wants to relieve your symptoms not put up with them, and you really need someone to talk to then I'm here and most importantly - I understand.
I understand what's going on with your hormones, I understand health patterns, I know about the emotional impact, and I can appreciate from my previous career what it must be like to have these symptoms and try to work. I'm also always looking to find solutions and give practical advice on what you can do naturally to not only alleviate symptoms but have a healthier and happier menopause.
I do online consultations where knowledge is key and you will leave knowing what you can do to help yourself with your specific symptoms. I also do a Menopause MOT Free Chat - if you'd like to speak to me on any level just message me on 07899 987227.
K N O W L E D G E . P A U S E . F L O U R I S H
Andrea is a Shiatsu and Chinese Medicine Practitioner who has specialised in helping women alleviate symptoms and understand perimenopause from the earliest signs. Since shocked but relieved to find out all her symptoms were menopause related 4 years ago she has dedicated her business to helping women find relief, she aims to help you 'Blossom in Your Menopause'.