Natural remedies alleviate menopausal symptoms

Natural treatment methods are increasingly being used for menopausal symptoms. As an alternative to synthetically produced hormones, herbal remedies are therapeutically effective and at the same time have few side effects. Convincing scientific studies are now available on many natural remedies. They show that the herbal preparations that have been used in naturopathy for years for menopausal symptoms not only have a placebo effect, but can also successfully replace conventional drugs in many cases.

Autor: Dr. med. W. Tönnes 

 

The menopause and its symptoms

In the menopause the hormone balance of the woman changes. The fertile phase of life ends and women no longer have to worry about contraception. This sounds much easier than it often is. The majority of women experience a wide range of symptoms during the menopause due to the hormonal changes. The most important symptoms of menopause include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Sudden weight gain or weight loss is no longer as easy as it used to be
  • Vaginal dryness (and related pain during sex)
  • Sleep disturbances (with or without sweating)
  • Mood swings up to depression and even cognitive disorders
  • Increased susceptibility to bladder infections
  • Joint pain
  • Increased aging of the skin
  • Fatigue and faster exhaustion

Because estrogens protect the bones as well as the heart and blood vessels, women in and after menopause also have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

 

The stages of menopause

The phase of life known as menopause (or climacteric) can be divided into three periods: Perimenopause, Menopause, and Postmenopause.

Perimenopause is the time before menstruation stops, that is, the period when bleeding becomes more irregular and sometimes there can be a few months between two periods. This period begins around the age of 47.

Menopause is exactly the time when the last menstrual period occurs. Only, of course, at the time of menopause, you don’t know that it is menopause, because no one knows if this is the last bleeding or not. Only when there is no further bleeding for 12 months can one retrospectively determine the time of menopause (if one still remembers then or if one kept records). On average, women have passed menopause by the age of 52.

Postmenopause refers to the entire period after menopause until the end of menopause, which is completed at age 60 or 65.

Sometimes there is also talk of premenopause. This is the phase before perimenopause and before the actual menopause. At this stage, progesterone levels begin to fall first, followed by estrogen levels. The drop in progesterone levels while estrogen levels are still relatively high can lead to symptoms of estrogen dominance (e.g. premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstrual irregularities, headaches, dizziness, fibroids, endometriosis and basically all the symptoms that can also occur during menopause, since estrogen dominance is also present here for years).

It is only later at the end of perimenopause that testosterone levels also decrease, but not as much as the two female hormones progesterone and estrogen. Therefore, some menopausal women may experience hair loss and a lady’s beard, which is increased hair growth on the body.

 

Herbal remedies for menopause

To help the hormone balance in menopause to find a healthy new balance, there are herbal remedies with very good effect. So nowadays there is hardly any need to think about hormone replacement therapy – especially since long-term use of synthetic hormones (over many years) is now discouraged even by many orthodox doctors.

Long-term studies have shown that hormone therapies used to treat menopausal symptoms may carry an increased risk of breast and uterine cancer. Moreover, thromboembolism is one of the most important side effects of conventional hormone replacement therapies, as confirmed, for example, by the results of the Women`s Health Initiative. ( 5 )

It is therefore extremely sensible to look for compatible alternatives for menopausal complaints. Below we present the most common natural remedies for menopausal symptoms – those whose medical effects have now been scientifically proven.

 

Before you take anything…

Before you take anything for your symptoms, just wait a few weeks. Use this time and

  • Optimize your nutrition now (vegan nutrition helps with menopausal symptoms; choose vegetable protein sources instead of animal ones; dairy products do not offer bone protection during menopause),
  • provide yourself with vital substances (especially those you may have been lacking),
  • Exercise regularly (20-minute interval training also helps with menopausal weight loss).
  • make sure you relax just as regularly (yoga, meditation, reading, walks in nature, time just for you).

Hot flashes protect against breast cancer

Hot flashes, for example, often disappear as quickly as they appeared, even if you didn’t expect them to, because the hot flashes occurred so often. So give your body time to find a new balance on its own. Consider the changes and symptoms as something normal and good, and not as something negative. For example, we know from studies that those women who had the most severe hot flashes were best protected against breast cancer.

Hot flashes are particularly common in connection with stress. If the stress subsides, the hot flashes also become less frequent.

If the discomfort is very stressful, then the following natural remedies will help you. Of course, do not take them all at the same time, but choose one or two of them – of course, together with your doctor.

Black cohosh for hot flashes

Black cohosh is native to North America as well as Canada and has long been used by the natives there as a medicinal plant for menopausal symptoms and gynecological diseases.

The special feature of the black cohosh is that its rhizome contains plant hormones similar to estrogen. Black cohosh therefore has an estrogen-like effect, which means that the ingredients of the medicinal plant are chemically structured differently from estrogens, but can nevertheless dock onto the estrogen receptors and in this way exert an estrogen-like effect. However, the estrogen-like effect is much weaker than that of the true estrogens, so there is no risk of side effects.

Black cohosh exerts a regulating effect on the female hormone metabolism and thus serves as a gentle aid for the typical estrogen deficiency symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, inner restlessness and mood swings – which could also be proven on the basis of a placebo-controlled double-blind study from the years 2011/2012.

This study ( 1 ) involved 84 women with menopausal symptoms. For eight weeks, the participants received one tablet per day. For 42 women, the tablet contained 6.5 mg of extract from black cohosh; for the remaining participants, it was a placebo tablet. Of course, the women did not know which group they belonged to. The results showed that the use of black cohosh helped to alleviate both physical and psychological menopausal symptoms without causing any side effects (1).

 

St. John’s wort for insomnia and depression

St. John’s wort extracts or St. John’s wort oil are used in natural medicine. Extracts are considered for mood elevation as well as for mild to moderate depression.

Mood swings often occur during menopause, so St. John’s wort can also be used as an effective remedy here.

A clinical study conducted by the Isfahan Health Center in Iran investigated the efficacy of St. John’s wort for menopausal symptoms. The International Journal of Biomedical Science published the results on the said study in 2010 ( 2 ).

Normally, however, monk’s pepper is not taken as an essential oil, but in the form of standardized extracts, . Monk’s pepper preparations are also available in pharmacies. The hard capsules, however, are made of gelatin and contain numerous additives, including titanium dioxide.

 

Maca leads to more well-being

Especially during the time of hormonal changes, women feel weak and lacking in energy. The Maca root is considered a power tuber, which is supposed to increase the general resilience and provide strength and endurance.

Already 2000 years ago, the miracle cure was cultivated in the Peruvian Andes and valued as a strengthening food. The superfood of the South American Inca is used in naturopathy for potency and libido problems and is also used for menopausal symptoms.

In 2005, the International Journal of Biomedical Science published a clinical placebo-controlled study conducted with 20 women over a nine-month period ( 4 ).

At the beginning of the study, the women’s blood hormone levels were determined. A further hormone level determination was made after one month, during which the participants had taken a placebo preparation. After two to eight months, the participants took 2 g of maca root powder in the form of two 500 mg capsules twice a day. Again, the women’s hormone levels in the blood were determined.

Compared to the placebo preparations, a significant change in hormone balance was observed when the maca powder was taken and contributed to the improvement of well-being during menopause.

 

Wild Yam for strong bones

Wild Yam is a root that has been used by the indigenous people of Central and North America for many centuries, especially for women’s complaints. Wild yam contains an active ingredient (diosgenin) that is even considered a precursor to some birth control pills, as it can be used to produce the hormone progesterone.

During menopause, Wild Yam could be a gentle solution for two reasons. First, the plant shows a bone-strengthening effect – it increases bone activity and therefore inhibits bone resorption – which could be used in terms of osteoporosis prevention; second, Wild Yam has the effect of avoiding estrogen dominance, which can also be involved in typical menopausal symptoms, since usually progesterone levels drop much earlier than estrogen levels, and therefore there can be a relative estrogen surplus ( 5 ).

 

Fennel helps with menopausal symptoms

Extracts from fennel seed can also be used for menopausal symptoms. In a study, the first improvements were seen after only two weeks of taking the capsules.

 

Herbal remedies in menopause

Even though herbal medicines have fewer side effects than synthetically produced drugs, they should of course not be taken indiscriminately. Because also here overdoses or interactions with other preparations can occur. For this reason, a herbal treatment method for menopausal symptoms should always be discussed with a holistically oriented physician or a therapist experienced in naturopathy.

 

Note on health topics

This information is provided in good faith. It is intended exclusively for interested parties and for further education and is in no way to be understood as diagnostic or therapeutic instructions. We accept no liability for damages of any kind arising directly or indirectly from the use of the information. In case of suspected illnesses, please consult your doctor.

Sources

[1] Tanmahasamut P, Vichinsartvichai P, Rattanachaiyanont M, Techatraisak K, Dangrat C, Sardod P., “Cimicifuga racemosa extract for relieving menopausal symptoms: a randomized controlled trial”.

[2] Fariba Fahami, MSc, Zahra Asali, MSc, Abolfazl Aslani, PhD, and Nahid Fathizadeh, MSc, “A comparative study on the effects of Hypericum Perforatum and passion flower on the menopausal symptoms of women referring to Isfahan City health care centers”.

[3] Margaret Diana van Die, Ph.D., Henry G. Burger, M.D., F.R.A.C.P., Helena J. Teede, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., F.R.A.C.P., Kerry M. Bone, B.Sc., “Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste-Tree/Berry) in the Treatment of Menopause-Related Complaints.”

[4] H. O. Meissner, W. Kapczynski, A. Mscisz, J. Lutomski, “Use of GelatinizedMaca (Lepidium Peruvianum) in Early Postmenopausal Women.”

[5] Ross L. Prentice, “Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy and the Risks of Coronary Heart Disease, Breast Cancer, and Stroke.”

[6] Lucks BC et al, “Vitex agnus castus essential oil and menopausal balance: a self-care survey,” International Journal of Aromatherapy, January 2003.

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