Yes, what happened to the notion of "aging gracefully," at least outside the doors of our favorite yoga studio?
Dr. Moshe Lewis, an integrative medicine expert whose multi-faceted approach to treating menopause has gained national media attention, advocates merging Western medicine with carefully chosen holistic approaches to menopause treatment.
Therapies from Lewis' "toolbox," tailored to suit an individual patient, include osteopathy, acupuncture, physical therapy, Tai Chi, pool therapy, chiropracty and psychotherapy.
Nutritionist Dr. Carolyn Dean (nutritionalmagnesium.org), whose publishing repertoire includes The Complete Natural Guide to Women's Health, Hormone Balance, Menopause Naturally and The Magnesium Miracle, notes that while today's celebrities over 40 and 50 look more youthful and vibrant than their counterparts in past generations, you may want to look beyond Hollywood for real inspiration.
"People in our society tend to view growing old as a bad thing, where other societies embrace older women and call upon them for their wisdom," Dean says.
"It is unfortunate that women in our culture" respond to "the message that they have to keep looking like they're still 30, which drives the surgeries, Botox and other industries. That said, there will always be a percentage of women who want to do things the natural way."
In Menopause Naturally, Dean presents the argument that aging gracefully begins with common sense practices like good diet, exercise, getting your beauty sleep and some form of detoxification. She also points out that women are generally healthier than men up through menopause because their monthly periods detox the body naturally.
However, after menopause, a woman has to do a few things to help the process. She recommends Epsom salt baths or oral magnesium citrate that provide detoxifying magnesium, as well as clay baths and saunas that draw impurities out of the body.
"Some herbs have been used in China and India for generations, and are effective, natural ways to deal with menopause," Dean continues.
Deborah Wagner, a clinical psychologist based in Bergen County, N.J., has incorporated the emotional impact of menopause into the way she guides clients through a woman's second coming of age.
Her forthcoming book, The Fifth Decade: Is It Just My Life or Is It Perimenopause? Sorting Through the Emotional Upheaval of Women In Their 40s and 50s, covers a wide gamut of emotional issues women face, such as anxiety, stress, fatigue, loss of libido, and trouble in parental and work-place relationships.
"When the physical and psychological come together, it can be explosive."
To defuse this potential ticking time bomb, Wagner has championed the use of bioidentical hormones, derived naturally from food and plant sources, such as yams and soy, yet are identical to what the human bodies produce.
This is welcome news, especially with the controversy surrounding synthetic hormone treatments, which have been discontinued on a global basis since 2002, when the Women's Health Initiative, a government-sponsored 15-year study, found that synthetic hormones were causing cancer and other illnesses in women.
While consulting a trusted physician or gynecologist is a given, Wagner mentions that some prescribed psychotropic medications, such as Paxil or Lunesta, offer a good alternative for those who want to opt out of hormone therapy.
South African-born, Cleveland-based Dr. Wulf Utian, whose new book is Change Your Menopause: Why One Size Does Not Fit All, says, "The message that I always try to deliver is that women are similar in some ways, but the ways they are different will impact not only how each woman experiences something, but what actions she needs to take to cope with symptoms and changes in her body."