What are herbal remedies and other natural alternatives for menopause?
Some women decide to take herbal, natural, or plant-based products to help their symptoms. Some women turn to herbal remedies or to certain estrogen-like chemicals in plants (called phytoestrogens) for help. These products are not regulated through the same government system as drugs are. There is limited and conflicting research on their safety and effectiveness. Some of the herbal products can have harmful side effects or can interact with other drugs.
Discover the function and the name of herbs commonly used for female health issues in our Herbal Allies: Introduction to Herbs. Discuss herbal remedies with a qualified healthcare provider before taking them, but do not summarily dismiss them because a medical practitioner has limited knowledge.
There are some products that seem to help some women. Soy contains phytoestrogens (estrogen-like substances from a plant). But, there is no proof that soy–or other sources of phytoestrogens–really do relieve hot flashes. And the risks of taking soy, especially the pills and powders, are not known. You can get soy from foods too. Soy food products include tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and soy nuts. These soy products are more likely to work on mild hot flashes.
Although phytoestrogens have some estrogenic activity and may have some of the same effects as HRT, their long-term safety is not clear and has not been adequately studied. Studies of black cohosh have found that it may reduce hot flashes and night sweats for some women. St. John’s Wort and chasteberry may help some women with depressed mood. Some recent studies comparing specific herbal products to placebo in controlled clinical trials have shown little or no effect for ginseng, dong quai, evening primrose oil, and red clover products on menopausal symptoms. However, there is a long tradition of the use of these and other herbal remedies in menopause.
Other sources of phytoestrogens. These include herbs such as black cohosh, a member of the buttercup family, wild yam, dong quai, and valerian root.
Bioidentical hormone herapy. Some women visit alternative medicine doctors and get a prescription for these products, which are made from different plant hormones that are like those in a woman’s body. Each prescription is hand-mixed, and the dose can vary from patient to patient.
Products that come from plants may sound like they are more natural or safer than other forms of hormones, but there is no proof they really are. There also is no proof that they are better at helping symptoms of menopause. Make sure to discuss herbal products with your doctor before taking them. You also should tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, since some of the herbal products can be harmful to you with other drugs.
More information on menopause
What is menopause? - Menopause is a stage of the human female reproductive cycle that occurs as the ovaries stop producing estrogen, causing the reproductive system to gradually shut down.
When does menopause occur? - Most premenopausal women experience changes in their menstrual cycle. Perimenopause is the phase before menopause actually takes place, when ovarian hormone production is declining and fluctuating, causing a host of symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms of menopause? - The symptoms of menopause can be divided into early and late onset symptoms. Early symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding, hot flashes, and mood changes. Late symptoms include vaginal dryness and irritation, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
What causes menopause? - Menopause occurs when the ovaries are totally depleted of eggs and no amount of stimulation from the regulating hormones can force them to work.
What is premature menopause? - Premature menopause is menopause that happens before the age of 40 - whether it is natural or induced.
What is perimenopause? - Perimenopause is the stage of a woman's life before menopause. The perimenopause is a normal period of transition between the childbearing years and menopause.
What is postmenopause? - Postmenopause is the time when most of the transitional stress of menopause has passed. Since postmenopausal women produce less estrogen, there are some symptoms that they might experience.
What are the treatment options for menopause? - Treatments for menopause can be divided based on those symptoms that are present in a given woman at a specific time. The standard of treatment for menopausal symptoms is replacement of one or both of the major female hormones.
What is hormone replacement therapy (HRT)? - Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment for women who have reached or passed menopause, which often is referred to as "the change of life."
What are the benefits of hormone replacement therapy? - The benefits of hormone replacement therapy include controlling menopause symptoms, preventing heart disease, preventing osteoporosis, preventing some hard-to-detect female cancers.
What are the risk factors for hormone replacement therapy? - Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) risks and possible side effects include increased risk of cancers, blood clots, gallbladder disease, and heart attack or stroke.
What hormones are used in hormone replacement therapy? - The menopause is associated with a relative lack of oestrogens and progestogens. Replacement therapy always requires oestrogens, which are given continuously.
How is hormone replacement therapy taken? - There are many ways of taking HRT, including a daily tablet, skin patches, a small pellet or implant under the skin, a gel applied daily to the skin, or a nasal spray.
What is natural hormone replacement therapy? - Natural hormone replacement therapy (NHRT) is a combination of human estrogens and natural human progesterone.
What are herbal remedies for menopause? - Some women take herbal, natural, or plant-based products to help their symptoms. Wort and chasteberry may help some women with depressed mood.
What is estrogen replacement therapy (ERT)? - Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) is therapy to replace estrogen no longer made by a woman's body because she is post-menopausal or her ovaries have been damaged or removed.
What menopause diet is suggested? - Eating right can definitely ease the various discomforts of menopause including hot flashes, bloating and mood swings.