Menopause (also known as the “change of life”) is marked by the end of menstruation and usually occurs around the age of 50. The current medical view of the menopause is that it is a disease that needs to be treated. However, we should remember that it is a natural transitional process. In some cultures, menopause is celebrated. Just like adolescence is seen as a transition from child to adult, menopause is seen as a transition from the binding responsibilities of child-bearing and family care to an evolved state of independence and wisdom.
During the menopause, egg production (ovulation) stops. This occurs as a result of falling levels of the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which regulate periods. In the time leading up to the menopause (perimenopause), hormonal and biological changes may result in physical and emotional symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and osteoporosis. The severity of such symptoms can vary greatly from woman to woman.
Current medical treatment of menopause primarily involves hormone replacement therapy (HRT) featuring a combination of estrogen and progesterone. However HRT carries significant risk and side effects. Natural remedies can help relieve the symptoms of menopause and make the transition much easier. The natural treatment of menopause aims to balance hormone levels and encourage optimum health, so that your body can manage this natural transition with ease.
Natural remedies for menopause:
- Phytoestrogens are plant compounds that mimic oestrogen in the body. Phytoestrogens have a balancing effect – they can increase or decrease oestrogenic activity as necessary. Good sources of phytoestrogens include soya, flaxseeds and flax oil. It is well known that societies with regular consumption of soya (and particularly fermented soya products) have a low incidence of hot flushes during menopause.
- Consuming more soya in your diet can help increase your phytoestrogen intake. However, taking a phytoestrogen supplement daily will have a stronger effect. Taking 1-2 tablespoons of flax oil daily is also beneficial.
- Many clinical studies have shown that vitamin E is effective at reducing hot flushes and vaginal dryness (recommended dose is 400-800iu).
- Essential fatty acids are vital to good health and help “lubricate” skin, joints and mucosal tissue. Therefore, supplementing EFAs can help relieve dry skin, lifeless hair, cracked nails, aching joint, and vaginal dryness-all symptoms associated with the menopause. Ideally chose a supplement rich in omega 3, omega 6 (in particular GLA), and omega 9. Omega 7 from sea buckthorn oil has also been researched for helping to maintain healthy mucous membranes, which form the linings of the genital, respiratory and digestive tracts.
- Agnus Castus is one of the most potent herbal remedies for hot flushes as it contains the chemical precursors of the sex hormones. It stimulates and normalises the function of the pituitary gland which controls and balances the hormones in our body.
- A variety of herbs with weak oestrogen activity have proved very helpful for menopausal symptoms. These includeBlack Cohosh, Red Clover, Dong Quai, Wild Yam andSage. These herbs have been used historically to treat menopausal symptoms and they are still very popular today.
(Caution *You should not take any of the above herbs if you are taking the Pill, fertility drugs, HRT or any other hormonal treatment or other medication unless they are recommended by a registered, experienced practitioner)