To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Massage and Menopause: Touch Helps Ease Women Through the Transition,” , in the September 2010 issue. Article summary: Women go through menopause at different times, and this can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as lifestyle, diet, genetics and general health. For many women, the change in their bodies comes at a crucial time, and with increased responsibility and related stress, many women find it difficult to take time to care for themselves and address the changes their bodies are experiencing. Their symptoms progress, and for some women it may seem unbearable. Enter massage therapy.

by Jonathan Selzer, Ph.D

After a massage, you instruct clients to relax and drink plenty of water. You might offer some kind of purified water; this helps rid the body of toxins, which were released by the manipulations of the massage. There are certain concerns specific to the menopausal client.

Rehydration seems to be of particular importance and offers special opportunities to catch two birds with one stone: hydration and the benefits of herbal supplements. The many beauty drinks on the market today can provide the perfect match.

There are two basic strategies in the use of herbal products for menopause. First, the use of phytoestrogens, estrogens from plants, can ease the symptoms by logging onto the estrogen receptors of the cells. This tricks the body into thinking estrogen is there. Since the phytoestrogens have a weaker activity than the body’s native estrogen, the body gets a mild response that satisfies the desire for estrogen but without the negative effects of estradiol or estrone. This is the direct approach.

The second strategy, somewhat more indirect, is to use herbs to strengthen hormone-producing glands. This concerns primarily the adrenal glands and ovaries, using herbal combinations. Based on the concept of traditional Chinese medicine, these products help to stimulate the kidney and increase kidney energy. By doing so, they have many indirect effects throughout the body, an important one being the easing of menopausal symptoms.

It is kidney energy that restores youthfulness, detoxifies, balances hormones, and stimulates metabolism, digestion, enzymes, immunity and the adrenal glands. Kidney energy is the seat of procreation, the center of vitality and mental clarity. It gives your body the ability to regenerate. By the time you have reached 40 years of age, you have probably lost 40 percent of your kidney energy. By menopause, it is time to revitalize.

Products that nurture the kidneys thus make an excellent hydration-booster. These include cranberry, elderberry and lo han, preferably all natural without sugars, of course. By adding these detoxifiers to your clients’ water, you will help them drink more water, strengthen their kidneys and fight the symptoms of menopause.

Kudzu root, a major component of dietary supplements, is an example of a nonsoy phytoestrogen that can be used to support menopause. It can be combined with licorice, a powerful adaptagenic herb that helps your body restore balance and harmony.

Your clients should, of course, continue treatment at home for optimal effects, which is why many massage therapists offer these products to clients as retail items. The residual benefits to the client are continued health and the ability to help themselves. The retail sales provide excellent residual benefits to the therapist.

Jonathan Selzer, Ph.D., technical director at HerbaSway Laboratories, earned his Ph.D. in lipid nutrition at the University of Hamburg in Germany. He worked in Germany and France for many years. In 2001, Selzer returned to the U.S. to devote himself to the development and manufacture of liquid dietary supplements at HerbaSway Laboratories. He lives with his family in Connecticut.