Alternative Treatments for Menopause

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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Help with perimenopause migraines

May 2010

I have recently had an alarming increase in the frequency and severity of migraines, including some scary episodes of ''atypical migraine'' with stroke-like symptoms. This has coincided with the recent irregularity of my menstrual cycle as I turned 50. I am wondering if there could be a relationship between the migraines and my hormones, and so am looking for a doctor who specializes in the treatment of perimenopause with bioidentical hormones. I am open to either alternative or Western medicine.

I have already been to the emergency room several times, and have undergone all the standard tests to rule out serious conditions. Everything comes back negative, yet my symptoms recur. It seems that I have reached the limit of what my doctors can treat, so I am researching other possibilities.

I have looked on the website, but the practitioners listed there are unavailable or their phone numbers have changed. Help!

I had gripping migraines starting in my early 40's. They were entirely linked to my hormone shifts and were predictable based on my cycle (which was still regular). The only thing that really seems to help is a complete change of diet and regular exercise and lots of water. I have tried a lot of other things which would help for one or two cycles, but like a mutating virus, the migraines found a way back. I cut out wheat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, corn, soy, oranges, peanuts... can't remember what else... lol. The sugar and wheat seem to be the major contributors for me. I had help coming to this conclusion... Abigail Surasky, a wonderful acupuncturist in Berkeley... 845 8017. She is really helpful. Best wishes to you
I experienced all sorts of perimenopausal symptoms. You name it, that was me. Then I began to see Lia Willebrand, an acupuncturist in Berkeley - (510) 858-6463. Very quickly, my symptoms - hot flashes, headaches, mood swings (to put it mildly), calmed way down. I lost the hot flashes and headaches altogether. Now in menopause, I see Lia every once in a while as something else arises. Truth is, perimenopause and menopause really prove to us that our bodies are all about chemistry - and chemical balance. I wholeheartedly recommend Lia. She is knowledegeable, thoughtful, skilled, with great ''tableside'' manner. Jane

Help! with perimenopause symptoms

April 2010

I need help with pervasive perimenopause symptoms affecting my daily life: migraines, depression, night sweats, cramps, etc. Would like physician referrals for MD's open to both western and eastern approaches. Also welcome referrals for eastern practitioners who've helped you, and other remedies you've found that work. Thanks. Suffering 48 yr old

I have a long history of migraines, and was not enjoying perimenopause one bit. About a year ago, I started working with Leah Statman, who uses jin shin to balance meridian flows. (Here's where you have to be open to Eastern traditions to continue.) I have to say, she has helped me to look at root causes of my symptoms, and with her help, I have finally understood some of my favorite foods were throwing off our best efforts to prevent my headaches. Long story short: I've cut out chocolate, and almost all refined carbs, and I feel much better. I now know flows that I can practice myself. No headaches. Much relieved symptoms. If you want to use an Eastern tradition, I recommend Leah. 510-525-5080 Best wishes! feeling a whole lot better
Dr Jeannie Achoff at the Berkeley Naturopathic Medical group is a wonderful resource. she can check your hormone levels and make recommendations that can ease the effects. there's no need to suffer through menopause
Hi. It is hell. I will turn 47 in two weeks and have been dealing with this since I was 42. The migraines, mood swings and joint pain have hit me the hardest. I tried a lot of eastern things... mostly Chinese medicine. I'd get some relief for one or two cycles and then it was like a mutating virus... the stuff wouldn't work anymore. I'd switch formulae and that would be great for another cycle or two. And so on and so on.

Finally, through my acupuncturist I had saliva hormone-level testings that showed very interesting results seeming to line up with all the crap I was going through. The blood draw hormone-level testings done at Kaiser showed that I was ''normal''. The difference is that the saliva testing are every other day for one cycle (up to 35 days) and the blood draw kind are only done two times in one cycle.

Once I had the info on what my body was doing, we felt more able to devise a truly effective battle-plan. This involved a whole eating regimen, regular cardiovascular exercise, consciously getting more/better sleep and taking some plant-based oral hormone supplements. What do you know? It worked! Unbelievable! And WONDERFUL!

The first time I did this was 2 years ago. My hormones got so balanced that I wound up pregnant. I felt so awesome that this shocker was just part of the awesome-ness. So here we are ... one year postpartum ... the evil peri started up again in November. Another set of the testings showed way whacked stuff and here I am back ''on the wagon'' and feeling great.

My acupuncturist is Abigail Surasky. She is amazing 845 8017. In Berkeley on Dwight Way near Milvia. If you want me to tell you more, feel free to contact me through the moderator. Peri-Mamma 2

I feel your pain. I am basically in the same situation. However, I have found miraculous help. Check out Sarah Gottfried at the Gottfried Center for Integrative Medicine. She is located in Oakland and I really think she will help you. I am so, so, much better since I started seeing her last fall. Good luck! Feel Your Pain
I can highly recommend Lia Willebrand to get some help with perimenopause. She is an acupuncturist in Berkeley on Ashby Avenue and she has helped me tremendously resolving my debilitating symptoms and to get back to an active life. I was exhausted, fuzzy, sleep-deprived and had such severe night sweats I had to sleep on towels. I did a course of acupuncture with Lia and also took herbs that she prescribed. It took a little while to feel the shift, but I feel great now. I can't remember my last night sweat and I'm back to being active. If I start to feel the symptoms creep back, I see her for a few treatments and start on the herbs again and it really works for me.

Lia is super sweet and low-key, takes her time with you and is easy to talk to, especially if you're not familiar with acupuncture or using herbs. I couldn't deal with the traditional raw herbs on the stove but she gave me an herbal remedy in capsules that's easy to take. I haven't had to take any western medication and that was really my goal. I saw my mother and older sister suffer for so many years and I feel lucky to have a different experience, and stay off meds. I can't say enough great things about her. Her website is; 510-858-6463 Good Luck!

Shoshana Uribe at Manzanita Wellness Clinic is a wonderful, attentive, knowledgeable acupuncturist. She has helped me and my family tremendously with many various issues. She is warm, sincere, & a gentle, yet powerful, healer who is extremely skilled in supporting the body to balance One of her specialties is working with womens' issues. I know she has experience in effectively treating the symptoms you described.

Her phone # is 510.459.9320 & here is her website link: Blessings. a grateful patient

Relief from menopause symptoms

Sept 2009

I just had my blood work done for my thyroid, and there is a note on it that my hormones are post menopausal. I had them done 6 months ago and I was not even pre menopausal, and yes, I have started to have hot flashes. I am freaking out a bit. I am only 47, and figured this would not be happening until I was at least 52. I have a 5 year old daughter, and a husband who is 11 years younger then I am. I want to start taking hormones and was wondering if anyone know's of a good doctor in the east bay. I saw a good show on Operah about this, and wished I'd paid more attention! jean

I would highly recommend Denise Daniel, owner, Healthly Family Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine, in Montclair. I came to her suffering from peri-menopausal symptoms of fatigue, massive irritation, and uncontrollable anger. She completed a very thorough medical history, and commenced with a series of acupuncture treatments that have ameliorated all of my symptoms. I feel great! She is kind, a fine listener, and wonderful with children (we now use her with our 6 year old). Her fees are reasonable as well. Jenny in Albany

Consult about hormones, exercise, and diet?

Sept 2008

Since I started menopause, I have felt the need for some help or advice beyond my gynecologist (who's in a hurry and follows the protocols)about the various changes I'm experiencing----mental fogs, indigestion, pain in joints, trouble sleeping, etc. None of these symptoms is completely severe, but I would like to consult with some kind of alternative health care person about hormones, exercise (whether to keep jogging in the next decade), flexibility, medications, diet---and try to come up with a personal program that works well for me. I already have an acupuncturist but am now looking for someone who is well read and lots of experience with my segment of life. Thanks very much. over 50

You've described Dr. Sara Gottfried , M.D., OBG, complementary medicine practitioner, yoga teacher. I took a yoga for menopause class with her, which she co-taught. Really great and helpful. A close friend is a patient of Dr. G's and has been been sharing with me the play-by-play of her work with with Dr. Gottfired. She has experienced major improvements in all areas of health, including overall energy, sexual energy, mood, digestion, etc. Dr. Sara Gottfried, Oakland (510)601-7111 I recently referred a client who told me there is about a month wait for first appt. Dr. S. is good about collaborating with other medical practitioners. You can google her and learn more. (Also, the book The Wisdom of Menopause, has lots of good info.) take care

Need herbalist for perimenopausal symtoms

Jan 2007

I am looking for a Chinese herbalist that someone has had success with coping with perimenopausal symptoms such as sleeplessness, hot flashes and the usual emotional stress associated with the decrease in hormones. While I understand there are over the counter herbs, I would prefer to find a herbalist who perhaps could make a mix of compounds specific to me. Many thanks for your recommendation. anon

Charlene Leung is an herbalist and acupuncturist. I have seen her for similar issues as yours, just for herbal consultations and have found her treatment effective, and her very professional, competent and caring. Her office is on Stannage, near Solano in Albany, ph # 559-9038 Yvonne
I can recommend Sara Rankin. L.Ac. She is a Chinese Herbalist and an acupuncturist. You can email sara [at] or phone (510) 593-7514. David
I can highly recommend Dennis VonElgg. He is an accupunturaist and chinese herbalist who specializes in working with women. He's very comfortable and easy to be with, and I found great results with him. His office is located at Telegraph & Woolsey his contact info: (510) 883-1340 anon
I have been treated by Don Gates, a licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist, for years now. He treated me when I went through menopause and the acupuncture as well as the herbs really helped to control the symptoms and make the transition easier. He has also treated a number of my friends for pregnancy related issues, injuries, and other random diseases. In fact, he treats my 2 year old son quite frequently and has excellent herbal remedies for children, including a great formula for ear infections. I highly recommend him -- he works in Oakland, on 41st street near Broadway. is his website. 510 428 9430 is his phone. Tamar
I work with a wonderful herbalist/ accupuncturist. Her name is Maureen Raytis and she is in Oakland, right near the Grand Lake theater. She specializes in women's issues and infertility but can help with the gamut of medical and emotional needs. She is also very open to integrating Western medicine with Eastern, so she will not immediately tell you to stop all of your medications, etc to work with her. She has helped me greatly with asthma and has helped my 16 year old daughter regulate her period so that she did not have to be on birth control pills forever ( the gynecologist's treatment recommendation for too frequent periods ). I recommend her most highly. Elizabeth
I feel for you! There is a great herbalist in Alameda named John Nieters. He has treated many women in your situation. You can call him at 510-814-6900 and his address is 1201 Lincoln Ave, Alameda. Tracy
John Nieters, Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist has a clinic in Alameda and he is wonderful with women's health. He is very compassionate and a strong listener. He has taught herbal medicine at the Academy of Chinese Culture and Science for many years and he has a weekly health radio talk show on KEST 1450 AM. You can find more about him on or call his office 510-814-6900 . I drink a custom blended herbal tea that he made for me daily and I notice a huge difference in my health and well-being when I drink it. Jen

Perimenopause & natural approach

Feb 2004

I seem to have hit perimenopause overnight and am wondering what folks recommend for natural ways to handle the symptoms I'm having. Background is I'm late 40s and as of a few months ago my periods just stopped and I started having hot flashes. I have them during the day and night, but it doesn't keep me awake at night. During the day I wear layers and just peel as needed. Being someone who is always freezing, this is pretty strange for me to be hot! Anyway, mostly this is new and different - it's not debilitating in any way, but I would still like to explore options. I haven't talked to my doctor - doesn't seem like there is much to say/do on that end. Is anyone familiar with ''The Fat Flush Diet''? A friend of mine swears by this book for her perimenopausal symptoms. Thanks! Is it hot in here or is it just me?

Fat Flush is great, but you should also pick up Ann Louise Gittleman's book ''Before the Change''. It saved me during my pre- and perimenapausal stuff. She explains physiologically what's happening in the body and how to deal with it using diet and supplements. Hurry to Vitamin Express adn pick up a copy. You'll be very happy you did. June
I was very skeptical but tried black cohosh (an herb) which works very well on those symptoms. It took about 3-4 weeks of one capsule daily. Try it! No sweat
I was having hot flashes and night sweats and it WAS affecting me a lot. I tried a combination of things, including wheatgrass tablets (Pines brand, available at Whole Foods), vitex (an herb, also known as chasteberry - it helps boost progesterone levels), black cohosh, and also diet changes - mainly less dairy, more soy, no caffeine or alcohol. The herbs and soy are phytoestrogens, which help increase your declining natural estrogen levels. The symptoms went away within a month. Incidentally, I'd been told I was in menopause (at 38!!) but wanted to get pregnant and was hoping it was perimenopause, which is not quite as ''final''. The above regimen, combined with acupuncture, did the trick - 4 months later I was pregnant. s.l.
I don't have any tips for herbs but I do have some tips for cooling off fast during a hot flash. Get more fans! For your purse get a silk folding fan from an Asian gift shop or on eBay and look on Amazon for little desk fans. I find these cool me off fast, and really the hot flash really is a flash - under a minute of heat.
Of course, check with your doctor before trying this, but I found that 1 gram of ginseng a day, taken with vitamin B complex at lunch (supposedly ginseng works well taken with B,less so with C), knocked out my incipient hot flashes within 72 hours, and I never had another one. I still use it several times a week to keep up my energy without relying on coffee. Melanie