Monthly Archives: April 2011

Acupuncture: A Drug-Free Option for Chronic Pain

By Staness Jonekos, Co-author of The Menopause Makeover

According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. I was one of them until acupuncture, and I now live relatively pain free.

Over 30 years ago I injured my left ankle. After a debridement surgery, injections, supplements, heat and cold therapy, and activity adjustments my injury was getting worse. This past year suffering from osteoarthritis and inflammation has taken a toll on my life. I am allergic to aspirin and ibuprofen, so over-the-counter medication was not a solution for pain management. Living with daily pain- rated an eight with ten being the worst pain possible – I visited the doctor who informed me after a recent MRI that the only option to permanently relieve the pain was an ankle fusion. I am a healthy 53-year-old, and for me this was not a realistic option.

Noting my reaction, the doctor advised me to consider acupuncture for pain relief. My only knowledge about acupuncture was that needles are inserted to stimulate healing by balancing energy. I was skeptical that correcting an imbalance of energy was going to ease my chronic pain. Desperate for relief, I reluctantly made an appointment with his recommended acupuncturist.

When I arrived at the acupuncturist’s office I was impressed with her scientific credentials. We discussed my chronic pain, and I lay back on the padded table to begin the process. I was apprehensive as she opened the box of disposable needles. She proceeded to place needles in my arms, legs and around my injured ankle — there may have been other needles, but I had my eyes shut. I was surprised there was no pain from the actual needle insertion, but when she inserted a needle in my leg I felt a bizarre throbbing sensation. It felt like a rushing river running along the left side of my body. The acupuncturist asked if I was OK. I told her that the left side of my body felt electric. She said, “this is good, you are feeling the flow of qi.”

Ping Gu, O.M.D., M.D. (Japan), Director of Institute of Alternative Medicine says:

Acupuncture is one of the key components of traditional Chinese medicine and has been practiced for thousands of years. Health is achieved by maintaining the body in a balanced state. Disease is due to an internal imbalance that leads to blockage in the flow of qi, the vital energy that circulates along pathways known as meridians, or energy-carrying channels. Illness is caused by a disruption of qi, which leads to an imbalance of energy. Acupuncture can correct this energy disruption using the meridian system to locate and treat many conditions.
It is no surprise many are skeptical of acupuncture, how do you see energy under a microscope? I could not “see” this flow of energy, but I was feeling it.

She turned on a heat lamp and placed it over my injured ankle, turned on mellow music, set an egg time for 20 minutes and suggested I take a nap. I had no idea how this was actually going to relieve my pain, but I was intrigued by the experience.

Ping Gu, continues:

Pain is a feeling triggered in the nervous system. When acu-points are stimulated near nerves, causing a feeling of heaviness, tingling or fullness in the muscle, a signal is sent to the brain and spinal cord. This causes a release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters that block the message of pain from being delivered up to the brain.
The egg timer went off and the acupuncturist came in to remove the needles and turned off the heat lamp. I sat up, put my shoes on and stepped off the table, and then it happened.

I stood up and walked out and felt nothing! No pain! I kept walking, how is this possible? I always feel pain, like knives with every step. I walked to the car thinking this positive effect would wear off by the time I got home. I shared the great news with my husband, and we decided to look at my ankle. My deformed ankle from years of swelling was almost 50 percent smaller. I was happy, but still skeptical that it would wear off like a dose of aspirin.

The next morning I stepped into my slippers, and no pain. A few more days, still no pain. The next week I scheduled two appointments a week for the next two months. I will continue to respect my injury and work closely with my orthopedic surgeon, but acupuncture helped reduce the inflammation and pain. The quality of my life is greatly improved. I am now an advocate for acupuncture.

The World Health Organization endorses acupuncture, and clinical studies have shown it to be a beneficial treatment for many conditions, including:

  • Chronic pain: migraines, neck and back pain, tendonitis, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Digestive disorders: irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, gastritis and constipation
  • High blood pressure
  • Urinary and reproductive disorders: menstrual cramps, irregular or heavy periods, infertility and menopausal symptoms
  • Addictions to nicotine, alcohol and drugs
  • Overweight or obesity, when coupled with diet and exercise
  • Psychological and emotional disorders: depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia
  • Symptom management for adverse reactions to chemotherapy and radiation, including fatigue, generalized pain, dry mouth, peripheral neuropathy, nausea and vomiting
  • Seasonal allergies

Many women suffering from hot flashes have reported relief from regular acupuncture treatments.

Cleveland Clinic states:

Although acupuncture is not a “cure-all” treatment, it is very effective in treating several diseases and conditions. Acupuncture also can improve the functioning of the immune system (the body’s defense system against diseases). For certain conditions, such as cancer, acupuncture should be performed in combination with other treatments.

For those living in pain, the bridge between Eastern and Western medicines may provide options. This skeptic is thrilled to have been nudged across into unknown territory and presented a drug-free solution for living with chronic pain.

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Posted in hormones

Elyssia’s Story

Elyssia’s Menopause Makeover Story

Age: 47

After twelve weeks on the Menopause Makeover, I not only lost weight, but I feel a lifting of my spirits.

I am more vibrant and energectic and have a more positive outlook on life.

I went from 132 pounds to 116 pounds and have lost an additional 6 pounds in four weeks by continuing to stay within the guidelines of The Menopause Makeover Food Pyramid.

I learned to eat more and exercise moderately!

This is not a diet.  It is a lifestyle that I can live with.

Setting healthy goals and sticking to them is easy when you see results.

In sixteen weeks I have lost a total of 24.25 inches and I feel great!

The Menopause Makeover is a whole-person approach to health and well-being, and it has provided me with the necessary tools to gain a new outlook on my life.  I am forever grateful.

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Posted in testimonials

Suffering from Hot Flashes?

hormonesResize2Hot Flash 101

The most common and often the most irritating symptom associated with menopause is the hot flash. As many as 75 percent of women going through menopause in the United States experience hot flashes with 10% to 15% of women having severe or frequent hot flashes. I had miserable hot flashes that heated up at the most inconvenient times and sometimes flaring up every few hours. I tried every trick in the book to eliminate this miserable symptom – from herbs, to teas, to exercise, to diet, to praying hourly that they would disappear – but they persisted.

With confusing and conflicting information online and in best-selling books, I teamed up with leading menopause expert and co-author of The Menopause Makeover, Dr. Wendy Klein, to get the latest scientific information on alternative, complementary and medical options to relieve hot flashes.

Understanding available hot flash options will give you the opportunity to discuss menopause management with your clinician. This interview with Dr. Klein is the first in a series that addresses the various menopause symptoms.

______________________________________
Hot Flash Interview

Staness: Dr. Klein, what exactly is a hot flash?

Dr. Klein: A hot flash is a sensation of extreme heat in the head and upper body generally associated with sweating.

We know from studying women that the internal core temperature does increase. You can a put a sensor on the skin and before a woman experiences a hot flash she will be able to tell you, “I am going to have a hot flash.” And sure enough, there will be an increase in internal core temperature followed by profuse sweating which is very uncomfortable. As you know, the purpose of sweating is to cool the body so there is often a reflex of sort of chill that follows the hot flash. It is a very uncomfortable and distracting sensation. It can occur at any time of the day. It can occur with tremendous variability, it can happen many times an hour or only just once or twice a day. Some women have one or two hot flashes a day, and get through menopause with no problems while other women have fifteen or twenty a day. We are all different.

Staness: What causes a hot flash?

Dr. Klein: We are still trying to understand exactly what causes hot flashes. We know that they are related to the hypothalamus, which is in the center of the brain and acts like the thermostat for the body. What we don’t understand is why some women are so troubled by them and others are not.

Certain women seem to have triggers. An alcoholic beverage may bring on a hot flash, or a change in external temperature can cause a hot flash for some women. In general, the hormonal flux or variation in hormone levels seems to be related to this sensation in some women.

Staness: Are there other causes?

Dr. Klein: We know that smoking is associated with hot flashes. Women who smoke have a higher risk of troublesome hot flashes, so obviously you should not smoke.

Also certain medicines can cause hot flashes such as certain antidepressants SSRI, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, are common antidepressants that can actually cause an increase in hot flashes. Yet, for some women, a very low dose can actually alleviate hot flashes, making antidepressants an alternative to hormone therapy.

Illnesses and fever can cause hot flashes, as can malignancies, and tuberculosis – many illnesses can cause hot flashes.

Increased BMI, Body Mass Index, has been associated with hot flashes. We used to think that women who were heavy had excess estrogen, and therefore fewer hot flashes. Now from the major study that was done in the SWAN, Study of Women Across the Nation, we know that women who are heavy, who have abnormally high body mass index, are at increased risk for hot flashes.

Staness: What’s a menopausal gal to do if she suffers from hot flashes?

Dr. Klein: The real issue is how troubled are you. Some women find that they can manage their hot flashes with simple lifestyle changes, such as wearing layered clothing, lowering the thermostat, carrying a fan, drinking cool beverages, avoiding triggers like caffeine and alcohol. Some women can have a few hot flashes a day and over time, seventy-five to eighty percent of cases the hot flashes will diminish and disappear. Then there is a subset of women for whom hot flashes are really troubling and don’t go away. Lots of women have recurring hot flashes waking them up over and over again and they can’t go back to sleep. They are not getting enough rest; they wake up grouchy, tired, and sweaty. If it is really a problem, there are hormonal therapies that will alleviate these symptoms. As you know hormone therapy can have side effects, so you must always weigh the benefit versus the risk. There are very low dose hormone therapies that are now available that can be extremely useful for alleviating hot flashes.

There are some other options to consider such as soy and black cohosh. The studies regarding soy are mixed, with some showing that soy can be helpful; while there are other studies that show soy may help with mild symptoms. Soy is benign and easily available and may be worth trying. Black cohosh is another herb and has been used in Europe widely, but you have to be careful because there have been reports of toxicity with high doses. Used in limited amounts in standardized doses black cohosh supplements may help some women with hot flashes. Again, there have been mixed studies, so whatever you do, and with anything you take, you should always discuss with your clinician.

You can also try lifestyle changes – wearing layered clothing, practice deep breathing, meditation and yoga, exercising – all of these things that can be really helpful in learning to live with the symptoms if they are moderate.

Another option to treat hot flashes is gabapentin. This is a drug that was originally developed as an antiseizure medicine. Gabapentin is widely used for pain relief, because it was discovered that with patients in whom it was used for seizures, it helped with pain. It was then found that it helped with hot flashes. Gabapentin is a reasonable alternative to discuss with your clinician if you do not want to or if you cannot take hormone therapy.

Staness: I was on birth control pills for years and had no idea I was perimenopausal until I stopped them, then the hot flashes started erupting. Are birth control pills a good option for hot flashes?

Dr. Klein: Birth control pills are a form of hormone therapy. They are a higher dose than standard menopausal therapy, but there is estrogen in most birth control pills and that keeps hot flashes away. If you are in the perimenopausal phase, birth control pills can also be useful for regulating your periods, plus they keep hot flashes away.

____________________________________________

Understanding the causes and solutions for hot flashes is the first step to managing your menopause. If you suffer from hot flashes, discuss your treatment options (alternative, complementary and medical) with your healthcare provider.

If you need a certified menopause expert in your area, click here and enter your zip code.

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Posted in ask the expert

Check your posture

Are you practicing good posture? You can look pounds thinner and more confident with good posture.

You know you have good posture when you can draw a straight line from your ear through your shoulder, hip and knee.

Sucking in your tummy and tucking in your tush on a regular basis will help strengthen your muscles and improve your appearance and mood.

Practice good posture when going through menopause.

When standing:

1. Hold your chest high.
2. Keep your shoulders back, relaxed.
3. Suck in your tummy and tush.
4. Keep your feet parallel.
5. Balance your weight evenly on both feet.

When seated:

1. Choose a chair that allows you to rest both feet flat on the floor, keep your knees level with your hips.
2. Sit with your back firmly against the chair. Place a small cushion behind the curve of your lower back, if needed.
3. Keep your shoulders relaxed
4. Tuck your chin in slightly.
5. Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight.

Practice good posture daily. Think about it when you are at the office, making a meal, doing chores, at the store, getting out of the car, and during exercise.

Having good posture will become automatic the more you practice. Good posture will help prevent injuries during exercise.

I have always been embarrassed about my 34 DD’s rolling my shoulders forward to hide them. It is always a conscious effort to practice good posture. When I do, I feel better about myself.

If you are not practicing good posture, ask yourself, “Why?” Are you ashamed? Lazy? Too weak? Hiding something? Suffering from low self-esteem?

When you have the answer, give yourself a big HUG. Then suck in your tummy and tuck in your tush, and show the world today that YOU MATTER, you are beautiful, you are lovable, and you are strong!

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Posted in fitness

How to Make Time for Spirituality

Spirituality tips for a busy lifestyle

meno-spirituality resize Most of us lead busy lives – family, career, parenting, community activities, home repairs, and social obligations – so how do you squeeze in a little spirituality? When you feel trapped in the center of a tornado of activity, spirituality may keep you grounded to your center of happiness.

Many confuse spirituality with religion. Being spiritual simply means being connected with your true spirit without the many layers of life cloaking the real you. During menopause being connected with your spirit will give you a foundation to move through this transition positively embracing your experience.

How do you keep connected to your spirit when daily activities leave no room for you?

1. Ask yourself, “Where and when do I find peace, happiness, and a sense of self?”
Is it when you practice religion? Take a hike? Listen to music? Enjoy a favorite hobby? When you pray or meditate? When you exercise? Is it being connected with community, Mother Nature or art?

2. How can you incorporate that activity into your life daily? For me reading inspiration words or taking a hike allows me to tap into my true self, a time away from responsibility, a place away from expectations. I try to carve out at least 30 minutes a day for a walk or reading.

3. We live in a fast paced world. Computers, e-mail, cell phones, overnight mail all make everything obtainable instantly. Staying connected with your sense of self, your spirituality, is not instant. It takes time, commitment and effort – it takes practice.

4. Being connected to your spirit can only live in the present moment. You must practice being in the present for spirituality to exist. We all struggle with the past and have hopes and dreams for the future. Being torn between the past and future makes it difficult to live in the present. It is being in the present that you will be able to feel connect to your spirituality.

5. Why is your life is so busy? Is your hectic lifestyle a way of hiding from yourself, your problems, a troubled past, physical pain, the fear of a miserable future? Fear will keep you from being connected from your true spirit. You cannot use a busy lifestyle as an excuse to hide from yourself.

How can you honor your spirit? Your body, mind and spirit must all be connected to practice a spiritual life. Tend to your health, nourish your mind and dedicate time to that special place where you feel at peace and balance. When your lifestyle is balanced your true spirit will appear daily in your life.

15 tips to nourish your spirituality

1. Take a walk by yourself (in a safe area)
2. Be positive
3. Do something kind for someone without being found out
4. Clear your schedule. Say “no” sometimes.
5. Let go of control
6. Take a deep breath and live in the moment – be present
7. Meditate or pray – connect with your spirit
8. Spend time with others who have similar spiritual beliefs
9. Read inspiration material
10. Practice gratitude daily
11. Create quiet time daily
12. Really listen when you are in conversation
13. Listen to music that touches your soul
14. Pamper yourself
15. Seek out peaceful moments for reflection

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Posted in spirituality

Matcha Green Tea Latte

By Staness Jonekos
The Menopause Makeover

Matcha green tea is a finely-milled green tea that has been used for the Japanese tea ceremony for centuries. It is made from shade-grown tea leaves and has incredible health benefits! It is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, can lower cholesterol levels and boost metabolism if drank regulary. Pound-for-pound matcha green tea contains more antioxidants than blueberries, pomegranates, orange juice and spinach! One cup of matcha is the equivalent of 10 cups of green tea.

Matcha Green Tea Latte Recipe

  • Pour 1 tsp Matcha green tea into a cup (use 1/2 tsp if you like a lighter taste)
  • Add 2 oz hot water and stir  until matcha becomes a smooth paste (it is tradition to use a bamboo whisk)
  • Pour 6 oz steamed low-fat milk (soy or almond milk) into your teacup (if you don’t have a steamer, pour milk in a shaker and shake shake shake until foamy)
  • Add mixed matcha tea to the milk
  • Scoop foamy low-fat milk (soy or almond milk) on top
  • Sprinkle with matcha dust

Optional

Sweeten with honey or vanilla

You can also make this as an “iced” drink. Prepare then pour over a glass of ice.

My favorite matcha green tea, click here to purchase.

The perfect traditional Japanese Tea ceremony chasen bamboo whisk! Click here to purchase.

Treat yourself to a matcha gree tea starter kit that includes the tea, bamboo whisk, scoop and special matcha bowl, click here.



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Posted in snacks

Jeanie Linders, creator of “Menopause the Musical”

Jeanie Linders is best known as the writer and producer of Menopause The Musical® and is a passionate voice for a generation of women facing more than just hot flashes. Her work in entertainment spans three decades, but finding ways to help women connect and support one another is what she focuses on now.

After seeing Menopause The Musical® I could not wait to ask Jeanie about her “I’ve Still Got It!” moment.  You are going to LOVE Jeanie’s response!

Interview with Jeanie Linders

Question: What inspired Menopause The Musical®?

Linders: My standard line is “a bottle of wine and a hot flash” but, truth be told, I have always written parody words to songs.  My brain synapses connect differently than others, I guess!  MTM came out of my standing in front of the freezer singing the words “Hot Flash” to Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs.”  I was dressed for a formal evening … the local NAACP was honoring Jesse Stone, and I was ready to walk out the door and the dripping started.  I have a picture of it … the flapping freezer door, a ball gown and me.  Then in the summer of 1998 I went to San Francisco and saw Beach Blanket Babylon, another parody show in its 30+ year by now.  Everyone was screaming with laughter around me and I was kind of angry.  I had this voice in my head that kept saying, “Well you could do this…” So I went back home … and did it.

Question: The show is currently playing in several cities – why do you think it continues to be popular?

Linders: The show is about WOMEN … not about theatre.  And there are more than 38 million baby boomer women in America alone who understand the embarrassment of “Gotta go, Gotta go,” and laugh at ourselves; we understand the feeling of wanting to shake the doctor by his/her lapels and scream, “YOU HAVE TO HELP ME.  I CAN’T SLEEP ANYMORE!”; we understand the feeling of thinking we are alone with the memory loss and wrinkles and everything else that comes with aging and love being able to share the felling with hundreds of women in the audience.  The musical started out as an experience.  Our audiences throughout the country … and now the world … are making it a women’s movement.

Question: Which song from the musical is your personal favorite?

Linders: My favorite to write is probably “I’m No Babe, Ma!”  When we opened off-Broadway, I had to expand the show and wanted to add songs that incorporated other experiences of women our/my age as well as other music genres.  Nothing is more complex than the mother/daughter experience … especially when you are 55 and she is 85!  I wanted to write a song that more of less said ‘let me grow up, Ma; I can do this … you raised a good woman.’ But no matter how I tried, the song always ended up at the same place:  “I’m still your babe.”  As the writer/producer of this show, nothing gives me more joy than to join the cast and audience on stage at the finale with a raised fist to the beat, beat, of “This Is Our Day!”

Question: Is there one particular character that you most identify with?

Linders: It is said that a writer writes what he/she knows.  And I realized … when asked this question early on … that I am my characters … all of them.  The Professional Woman who bought into Gloria Steinem’s “you can be it all” routine in the early ‘80s and ran businesses since 1979; the aging Soap Star, the diva personality who cringes at the sight of the wrinkles in the mirror, but still walks into the room with a “look at me” attitude; the lost in the ‘60s Earth Mother, who has ALWAYS worn long skirts … and Birkenstocks and feels very much at home at a Left Coast poetry reading; and, of course, the nurturing Iowa housewife.  I was raised to get married and have four kids.  I just forgot along the way and there is a part of me that knows something is missing … that I transfer to my spoiled Cotons — Maddie and Moxie Linders (pictured with Jeanie).

And the irony is that the women in the audience identify in the same way.  They too have the personality traits of all of the characters … and can relate to what each is experiencing.

Question: What’s your “I’ve Still Got It!” moment?

Linders: When I had sex after 14 years of celibacy and it was terrific!

Whaaaa – you gotta LOVE Jeanie Linders!  I do!

Due to the huge success of Menopause The Musical®, Jeanie’s empire has grown beyond her dreams. She founded the Jeanie C. Linders Fund® (JCLF) to empower women all over the world. JCLF has produced and presented the Menopause The Musical Out Loud™ Tour twice – each tour visiting over 50 cities. A portion of the proceeds from each Menopause The Musical Out Loud™ tour was designated for local and regional ovarian cancer chapters.

The Jeanie C. Linders Fund® supports women worldwide in areas of business development, arts and culture, personal growth, health issues and education. The Foundation has encouraged and assisted women to start small businesses using the skills they know best to raise their families out of poverty. Through the JCLF program, There’s No Place Like Home National™, Jeanie is working diligently to build homes for women and their families who have lost their homes due to natural disasters.

Jeanie Linders still has it and is going strong!  What’s YOUR “I’ve Still Got It!” story?  Leave a reply and inspire others.

Check out our latest contest! Enter to win 2 FREE tickets to see Menopause The Musical®.  To embrace the menopause celebration, one audience member wins a copy of The Menopause Makeover.  Enter to win today!

Jeanie has just launched her latest play, “The Mommies!”  Hilarious, click here for more information.

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Posted in I’ve Still Got It