Menopause and preserving essence in Chinese medicine


Are you lying in bed and suddenly feel a woosh of heat? Are your feet so hot you don’t have them under covers at night? Do you lie in bed awake for hours, sleepless wondering if you will get any sleep tonight and how are you going to function tomorrow?

If you are wondering why you have all these symptoms, this post is for you. It is not the usual ‘hormonal imbalance post you will read about menopause, It is about how Chinese medicine view the decline of the body and the effect it has on us as we age – and what we can do about it!

It is really rather simple if you see the body as nature’s landscape.

Precious Essence  – our reservoir

When our bodies are in balance, we have just the right amount of moisture in the body to nourish our tissues. And we are born with a reservoir, a well so to speak of energy and nourishment to help our bodies function. This reservoir is added to when we eat well, sleep enough and partake in exercise that builds our energy rather than expends it.

As we age this reservoir declines and the well dries up and our body starts to wither. What was keeping us young and vibrant is no longer readily available. The yin of our body – the tissues and muscles dry as they are not as nourished. We can see our tissues just like the earth where the landscape becomes dry and cracked. If water is poured on then it just rolls off because the earth is so dry it cannot absorb it. So too our bodies become dry and cracked, creating all sorts of myriad of symptoms that can vary from woman to woman. For example menopausal hot flushes are like dry hot summer gusts of winds in the desert.

How to preserve our reservoir

There are 2 kinds of Precious Essence: Pre-Heaven, representing our inherited characteristics, and Post-Heaven, which is energy accumulated or lost through life style factors such as diet, exercise and the way we live our lives. Pre-Heaven essence is not easily renewed, however it can replenished through  deep breathing, yin restorative and meditation exercises. Post-Heaven Essence is renewed through lifestyle changes — exercise, balance of work and play, food choices, fresh air, and water.

According to the Chinese medicine, women who wisely protect their Precious Essence may live long and maintain a youthful appearance. With a lifetime of balance, we can preserve our Precious Essence. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs may strengthen the body and Precious Essence. Poor lifestyle and habits can reduce the benefits of these treatments. It is of little use to work on building energy in the body through acupuncture or herbs if it  is thrown it away through careless living.

In the next post we will talk about life style changes during the menopausal transition.

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