Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Yoga Eases Menopause Symptoms?

A recent women's health story from the Washington Post highlights the connection between women's health and holistic/integrative medicine. Here's the scoop...

According to the article, "Yoga Eases Menopause Symptoms in Breast Cancer Survivors", researchers at Duke University found that early stage breast cancer survivors who took part in an 8-week yoga program showed significant reductions in the frequency and severity of their menopause-related hot flashes and also experienced decreases in fatigue, joint pain, sleep disturbance, and symptom-related distress.

Researchers noted that breast cancer survivors often experience more severe menopausal symptoms than other women (combination of reasons why: many of the women are coming off HRT and also the drugs used to prevent cancer recurrence tend to induce or exacerbate menopausal symptoms). The yoga program used in this study was specifically designed to lead participants through gentle stretching postures, breathing exercises, meditation techniques, group discussions and study of yoga principles.

"While this is a specific pilot program, women seeking similar results could consult with an experienced yoga instructor to learn some of the same techniques," study co-author Laura Porter said. "In addition to the traditional yoga postures, a well-trained yoga instructor or other mind-body practitioner may be able to provide instruction in breathing and meditation techniques to help manage stress and alleviate bothersome menopausal symptoms."

My take:

Yoga did for these women what no pharmaceutical company could -- it provided relief. As more and more of these stories find their way into mainstream media, holistic alternatives to medical treatment are finally getting their share of the spotlight.

The ancient practice of movement and breath, yoga functions as an important part of what's known as Ayurvedic medicine. Developed in India some 5000 years ago, Ayurvedic ("knowledge of life") medicine
addresses the relationships between your body, mind and spirit, and how each relates to the world around you. An Ayurvedic approach to health incorporates such elements as changes in eating habits, herbal remedies, and yoga and meditation.

While from what the article describes, we know only that the women who participated in this study took part in yoga classes, Ayurvedic medicine has served as a time-tested method for many menopausal women to minimize hot flashes, regain calm and peace in their lives, and feel well again. For more on this topic, I found
"Ayurveda and menopause — the tridosha path to hormonal balance" on Womentowomen.com to be an eye-opening read. For a general article about breathing, stress relief, and yoga, click here.

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