Journal /

Menopause & the gut-brain axis

DATE
9 Jul, 2023

Gut health and brain health in menopause. Many of us will be familiar with the gut-brain axis principle; the continuous two-way biochemical signalling between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system that scientists now know impacts everything from neural development and brain chemistry to mood, stress responses, anxiety and weight.

DATE
9 Jul, 2023

But did you know that there is growing evidence that menopause may further impact the communication between our gut and brain?

This may be, in part, because menopause is now known to be associated with lower gut microbiome diversity. And, although a concern, what is exciting is that we each have the opportunity and agency to improve our gut health - from now!

In our Meno.Well Masterclass for practitioners this week, Dr Martins, MPowder’s resident naturopath and herbalist reflected:

 

‘The modifiable nature of the gut microbiome represents an exciting opportunity for improving menopause health’.

 

We’ve written at length about the benefits of rethinking what you put on your plate in midlife - as well as what you look to have less of (we see you, UPFs!). And the Mediterranean Diet - which promotes making from scratch, a broad variety of plants and is also anti-inflammatory - can be a great place to start. But here are two categories of herbs and botanicals that may not be a common feature in your recipes that can help too:

Carminative herbs: These are used by practitioners to prevent or relieve gut discomfort, reflux, bloating, cramping and excess gas, usually by gently but powerfully relaxing the intestinal smooth muscles. Look to:

Ginger: which can accelerate gastric emptying
Fennel seeds: which can calm digestion by encouraging the relaxation of smooth muscles, which then helps reduce gas, bloating and stomach cramps
Lemon Balm: a favourite of ours (and also found in MPowder Meno-Boost and our latest formulation, Mood-Food) - a beautifully scented herb that is traditionally used to support digestive issues linked to the nervous system and spasms as well as being a great general support for digestion

Bitters:
These are used to stimulate bitter receptors in the mouth, stomach, gut, liver and pancreas and promote healthy digestion by increasing digestive secretions as well as bile secretion by the liver. They can also regulate our hormone secretion, which in turn can help us manage appetite. Look to:

Artichoke leaf: which can reduce IBS symptoms
Dandelion root: which is a powerful blood sugar regulator and antioxidant
Gentian root: can regulate our appetite and reduce heartburn

Antimicrobials and demulcents from the herb kingdom can provide valuable support too. Then, don’t underestimate the impact of self care tools on our menopause gut-brain axis too.

Breathwork, meditation, light therapy to reset your circadian rhythm can make a big difference too. There is a growing body of research pointing to the value of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT / Tapping) too.

With love, Rebekah & The MPowder Team


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