In a nutshell ‘yes’. It’s a combination of the natural changes to the mind and body that affect us all as we age, together with a raft of hormonal adjustments that we go through that connect menopause and low immune system.
So whatever stage of menopause you’re at and however you got there, whether naturally or medically induced, it’s important to know how to boost immune system during menopause.
At this time of year as we move through Autumn heading towards Winter the change in seasons can put additional strain on our mind and bodies as we naturally adjust to different weather conditions, temperatures, maybe less time outdoors and often a change in our diets. Now is a great time to be taking greater care of yourself.
Chinese Medicine and Your Immune System
Chinese medicine views everything, everywhere as energy. This energy is called ‘Qi’ and the energy of the immune system is called ‘Wei Qi’ and it circulates around the body day and night protecting you from dis-ease. Chinese medicine offers natural recommendations for self-care to boost your Wei qi (immune system) to help support both your menopause and immune system
How Does Menopause Affect Your Immune System?
It’s important to understand why your immune system naturally weakens as you age and why menopause, natural or medically induced, has an impact on it. It’ll help you appreciate the changes going on in your body and mind and why you may need to work a little harder at supporting it.
- ‘estrogen has an immunoenhancing effect on the immune system’(1). Which basically means as that oestrogen levels fall our immune system becomes less efficient.
- Cortisol, our ‘fight or flight’ hormone, released in response to stress is kept in check by oestrogen. When oestrogen falls, during perimenopause and beyond we’re less able to deal with stress. (2)
- Inflammation increases in menopause and the immune system must work a little harder to keep it in check. Reducing inflammatory food such as sugar can help.
- Sleep is our most restorative tool to support immunity. In menopause many of us are impacted by lack of sleep for many different reasons. The knock-on effect of too little sleep can often mean we don’t eat well and similarly because we don’t have the energy to exercise adequately, we’re further impacted.
- It’s generally believed that 80% of our immune ability begins in our gut. Taking care of our digestion is key
- A decrease in exercise (because we’re tired) also impacts our immune system.
How To Boost Your Immune System During Menopause Using Chinese Medicine Wisdom
The Chinese medical practice of Yang Sheng, the nourishment of life, recommends incorporating daily habits to support your health. One of the wonderful benefits of Chinese medicine is its preventative nature as the proverb ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ explains, taking care of ourselves can help us stave off illness.
Top Chinese Medicine Recommendations To Support Menopause and Low Immune System
- Take care of your digestion. In Chinese medicine the stomach and the spleen are the main digestive organs. The best way to take care of them is to; eat regularly; eat warm; eat most in the morning (between 7-11am).
- Reduce inflammatory foods, they impede the spleen’s ability to transform and transport food and reduce its immune fighting abilities. Inflammatory foods include dairy and sugar.
- Eat yellow! Yellow foods support the earth element, the organ of the stomach and spleen. Foods such as sweet potatoes and pumpkins and be sure to add turmeric and ginger.
- Improve sleep - sometimes easier said than done. In Chinese medicine there are lots of different reasons for disturbed sleep. General recommendations include; give your body at least 2 hours after eating before you go to bed; be ready to sleep before 10.30pm; keep the room completely dark.
- Reduce stress, this raises cortisol in Chinese medicine affects kidney energy which is already weakening as we age. It also affects the liver which is critical to good digestion and good sleep.
- Make sure you incorporate daily exercise into your routine. Brisk walking has been shown to be really effective at supporting the immune system. Walking is great during menopause as its weight bearing (good for the bones) and gets us outside and in nature.
- Acupuncture or daily acupressure. Stomach 36 on the outside of your calf about an inch away from the bone and 3 inches down from the crease of your knee. Stimulate the point by rubbing it daily for around 3 minutes. Alternatively, you can use essential oils such as neroli on the point or pop a magnet on the point and leave it to work while you carry on with your day.
- Chinese herbs such as Huang Qi, Astragalus, used to boost the immune system, anti-aging and anti-inflammatory.
Now that you can see the link between menopause and the immune system, hopefully you feel motivated to take some small steps to support yourself.
Remember ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’
Front Immunol.2018; 9: 1931. Published online (2018) Aug 27. Sex Hormones Determine Immune Response Veena Taneja*
About Jo Darling MBAcC Lic Acu, Founder Menopoised
Jo Darling is an acclaimed Chinese medicine practitioner with expertise in women’s natural health and the founder of Menopoised. She’s passionate about helping women transition through menopause, whether natural or medically induced and is an experienced oncology acupuncturist.
Jo’s mission is to empower women to live healthier, happier lives sharing her 15 years of clinical experience harnessing the ancient wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine. She successfully works with patients to support them with mental and physical health imbalances from hot flushes to anxiety, low mood or low energy, migraines, insomnia and much more.
Jo integrates a range of Chinese medical techniques including acupuncture, gua sha, moxibustion and offers lifestyle advice (yang sheng) to help women help themselves. She offers both in person and remote treatment incorporating the use of essential oils to activate specific acupuncture points.
How Jo’s Cancer Patients Changed Her Life
Her work with cancer patients, helping to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal treatment has been life changing for not just her patients but also for her.
She noticed her cancer patients often experienced immediate and intense menopause symptoms (asa side effect of their treatment) and for some their hot flushes were so overwhelming they couldn’t even drive to her clinic. Menopausal herself and rocked by herbest friend’s cancer diagnosis she decided enough was enough.
“I looked around for effective natural solutions, aligned with my principles and ethos that I could recommend to my patients. What I found was nothing. At least nothing that was proven to be effective that women could use at home and get the same effects as seeing an acupuncturist.
That’s when I took things into my own hands and created Menopoised®. Effective,natural, side-effect free and beautiful to boot. Because, quite frankly why shouldn’t products for menopausal women look and feel gorgeous!”
Armed with her extensive knowledge, practise-based evidence and expertise in Chinese Medicine she set about creating beautiful, effective products herself under the brand name Menopoised®.