What are the first things that come to mind when you hear the word menopause? Likely things such as fear, anxiety, night sweats, hot flashes, mood swings and insomnia just to name a few, but this doesn’t have to be the case. While most women in the United States experience noticeable symptoms for at least a short time if not years, few women in Asian countries experience symptoms at all. In Eastern culture this is thought of as a welcomed and honored time as with age comes wisdom, however in the west it is still thought of with fear and anxiety as with age comes loss of youth. For many years of your life you have likely been busy taking care of your children or others, you are now transitioning to a time where you can focus more on yourself and your own needs. A time for inner reflection instead of worry of fear.
Menopause marks the end of a woman’s reproductive period and in Chinese medicine theory it can be well managed with diet, herbs, and acupuncture with fewer risks and side effects than contemporary western solutions like hormone replacement therapy.
Reduce things like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, spicy ingredients, poor quality meat and eliminate smoking as this can dry Yin fluids needed to help with hot flashes.
Menopause can bring lactose intolerance so it is possible that eliminating dairy can help with bloating and gas. Adding probiotics can help normalize digestive function. Phytoestrogens, a chemical found in plants can reduce menopause symptoms, soy or tofu is a good example of this.
Kidney Yin deficiency can cause hot flashes and insomnia, anxiety and sweats.
Kidney Yang deficiency can cause chills and your body fails to transform the essence of food properly. Jing essence is what we use over time and can lead to deficiencies in Yin, Yang, Qi and blood, diet can help replace this. Warming the kidney can help with cold limbs and fatigue.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal formulas can help with imbalances at this time as well, which was the inspiration behind our new Menopause Bundle that we recently launched. We combined two powerful Chinese herbal formulas traditionally used during the perimenopause and menopause years by millions of women in the east: Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan (Physical Tranquility) to reduce heat and Xiao Yao San (Emotional Balance) to balance the mood and reduce mood swings.
I designed this recipe as an example of how you can research ingredients then combine them to benefit your presenting patterns or constitution. It is very typical to see results from eating to your constitution very quickly.
Chicken Broth with Yellow Miso and Lotus Root
- 2 Cups chicken broth – benefits blood, essence or Jing, spleen, stomach and Qi. Enters the kidney channel.
- ½ Cup yellow onion julienne– warm, counteracts damp and cold, improve blood and Qi circulation
- 2 Tablespoons water
- ¾ Cup tofu – builds Yin, blood and is a Qi tonic that supports the kidney
- Small handful spinach – promote Qi and Blood and Yin
- 2-3 inch piece lotus root thinly sliced– counteracts heat and promotes Qi circulation
- 2 Scallion, green part - warm, tonifies yang, eliminates cold and supports blood circulation and digestion.
- 1 teaspoon miso – soy same as tofu benefits, naturally fermented foods are invaluable for digestion, warming, benefits the kidney,
- 1 Tablespoon goji berries – tonifies kidney Yin
- Dash white pepper – counteracts damp
- 1 Tablespoon ginger, julienne– warming stimulates digestion and boosts circulation
- ½ Teaspoon sesame oil – counteracts heat and tonifies Yin
- 2 Medium shiitake julienne – blood and Qi tonic, supports spleen stomach and liver
Lightly cook the julienne onion and shiitake mushrooms in the 2 tablespoons water, add the chicken broth, ginger, goji and lotus (do not peel lotus, allow the hot broth to slightly braise.) bring to a simmer. Add the white pepper, tofu and miso (Thin the miso with a little stock then add back into the soup. Long cooking or boiling destroys miso’s beneficial organisms.) Add spinach and sesame oil and serve, garnish with scallions.
Seaweed is great for strengthening kidneys and building Yin so you could use dashi granules or make a broth using kombu and bonito flakes.
Add poached egg if you want more protein, should be antibiotic and hormone free if possible. Chicken eggs supports blood and promotes blood circulation, it also supports essence and Yin.
The recipes on The Way are intended as an East meets West look at food and its relationship to health and nutrition. Food is powerful, and every bite can either greatly benefit your system or effectively work against it. In Chinese Medicine, each grain, vegetable, meat, fruit, and spice has unique properties that can be harnessed to help us achieve and maintain balance in our bodies. Our recipes seek to incorporate some of the age-old principles of Chinese medicine into the culinary practices more familiar to the West.