Integrative Approaches to Women’s Health
Many women’s health issues including PMS, menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome and osteoporosis may be approached in an integrative fashion by adding non-traditional approaches to conventional treatment plans.
Often, this integrative approach results in a better outcome at a lower overall cost.
Below are evidence-based integrative approaches to common women’s health concerns:
Evidence strongly supports the benefits of taking calcium and vitamin D supplements. These have been shown to lower the risk of and help improve osteoporosis as well as lessen symptoms of PMS. Soy is another commonly recommended supplement. However, the studies here have been mixed. Some women seem to benefit more than others. It may be worth a try with menopausal symptoms and menstrual irregularity. Generally, I would advise against the concentrated supplement for someone who has a history of breast cancer, but I would recommend including whole soy foods like tofu, edamame and soy milk for everyone.
The three major traditions in herbal medicine are Ayurveda (Indian), Chinese, and Western. There is some degree of overlap with regards to the herbs employed, but each tradition has its own approach. There is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of many of these herbs for a variety of health-related issues including menstrual irregularity and painful menstruation. These preparations are typically much less expensive compared to conventional medications.
The scientific support for treatment of PMS and menopause is mixed due to the difficulty of conducting controlled studies. With that said, many women have found relief from their symptoms by employing this ancient treatment with zero negative side effects.
There is no doubt that many illnesses are exacerbated by stress, including many women’s health issues. Integrative approaches such as meditation, stress resilience training, yoga and even massage therapy can help lower stress and increase a sense of wellness.
They are highly successful and are cost effective approaches to augmenting conventional care.