HRT stands for hormone replacement therapy. It involves feeding women drugs, to cope with the ‘illness’ of menopause. Of course, most of this is nonsense. In Japan (where they don’t eat dairy, so don’t have the same massive drop in hormones), there is not even a translation for the words ‘hot flushes’. Because they don’t have any. Menopause is a natural phase of life, which you can usually sail through, simple by lifestyle changes and a few natural helpers.
Animal foods have hormones, just like us. So when humans eat animals, they also ingest hormones, especially in the form of dairy (and especially in the form of dairy that is made on factory farms, where animals are injected with chemicals and more hormones). If you eat animal foods, eat free-range organic.
The menopause begins when the ovaries stop producing oestrogen (though the adrenal glands and fat tissue continue making it). Yet PCRM reports that only 10% of women in China have hot flashes, compared to 75% of women in the USA.
First of all, let’s start with the horses. One of the main HRT drugs is called Premarin, which is made from horse urine. Each year, pregnant horses are chained up in ‘factory farms’ while their urine is drained to make the drug, with the foals usually sold or killed. The reason it’s used is because urine from a pregnant horse is rich in oestrogen. All animal welfare charities say that if you take HRT; demand to be given another type, so that more horses don’t suffer.
The horses have to wear rubber urine-collection bags at all times, and this causes chafing (they also are not allowed to drink beyond set amounts of water, as this will dilute the oestrogen). Once the foals are born, the horses are made pregnant again, to continue the cycle for years. When they finally retire, , a few get adopted and the others are slaughtered.
What is HRT Therapy?
HRT is a drug designed to replace the oestrogen, lost when a woman reaches menopause. The age for this varies, but it is usually somewhere in the late 40s or 50s. As stated, the reason for the huge drop is usually because westerners drink a lot of dairy milk, which is high in oestrogen. So when menopause hits, it causes symptoms like hot flushes, sweating and mood swings. But in Japan where they eat little dairy, symptoms are low or non-existent.
The other benefit given from HRT is to apparently reduce risk of osteoporosis, or brittle bones. Again, not drinking dairy is a good way to protect your bones. What, you say? Milk is full of calcium! You’ve been watching too many TV ads! A quick science lesson. Our bones do need calcium, but when you drink milk, it acidifies the blood, which then removes calcium from the bones.
If you think this is nonsense, consider this: countries (like Japan) where little or no dairy is taken, have stronger bones than countries like the UK, USA and Sweden, where people guzzle milk all the time. The answer? all the experts are agreed on this: don’t drink dairy, eat better-absorbed calcium instead (plant milks, kale, nuts and seeds etc) and (most importantly) do weight-bearing exercise, to keep your bones strong (and your muscles strong, which protect the bones – this is the main reason people break bones.
Taking HRT medicine has a higher risk of stroke (41%), heart attack (29%) and breast cancer (26%). These figures are from the Women’s Health Initiative, who had to stop a study of over 16,000 women, after it determined that the risks were so great, they did not wish to carry on. Dr Freya Schnabel of New York University’s Langone Medical Center says ‘I think any woman who’s considering taking HRT needs to genuinely consider these risks’.
You should never take HRT if you have a history of breast, ovarian or womb cancer, or blood clots or liver disease. You should also not take it while pregnant (if you have early menopause) nor if you are using contraception. Nor should you take it if you have high blood pressure (or you have to take another drug to counteract). These are official contraindications: common side effects include headaches, indigestion and tummy pain, vaginal bleeding and feeling sick.
How To Naturally Treat Menopause
- Foods high in natural calcium include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, chickpeas, dried figs, tinned beans, kale, lentils, mustard greens, oatmeal, tofu, sweet potato and turnip greens.
- Treat yourself to a good simple plant-based cookbook. These books only have a few ingredients per recipe, and offer tasty meals with lots of calcium, with no need for boring diets.
- Swap coffee and alcohol for water and tea. A cup of coffee daily won’t hurt, but if you’re a coffeeholic, start drinking English breakfast tea (or herbal tea or hot water with lemon). The less caffeine and stimulants, the better. Also give up smoking.
- Reducing salt is also good. PCRM writes that ‘if you throw salt on a slippery sidewalk, it dissolves the ice’ and it does the same to your bones, if you take too much in food. You need a bit (for iodine) but not too much.
- Spicy food can sometimes not help hot flushes. So if you like a curry, choose a korma over a vindaloo.
- Get out in nature. If menopause is making you depressed, go for long walks, get plenty of sleep and give up being around people who make you stressed.
- Get rid of tight-fitting clothing and wear looser cotton and hemp clothing, to let your skin breathe. This can help to cool you down, if you have hot flushes.
- Yoga and tai chi can help to relax you, and avoid mood swings.
- Relief from Hot Flashes is a book by Dr Gary Elkins, Director of Mind-Body Medicine Research Lab at the USA’s Baylor University. He has devised a natural way of hypnotic relaxation to reduce flashes by 80% or so, in 5 weeks.
- Hormone Balance Through Yoga is a little illustrated guide by a German yoga teacher. Research found that hormone yoga therapy got rid of symptoms in 3 to 4 months. And can also help with symptoms of PMT and polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Be careful at the health shop, as many items recommended (like St John’s Wort) have contraindications for some women. If you are going to take holistic medicine, only do so from qualified practitioners, not from someone who has taken a short weekend course with Holland & Barrett.
- YES is an organic company that offers natural products for vaginal dryness. Far safer (and kinder) than taking horse urine.