Therapies to Ease Symptoms
Today, women are seeking herbal and nutritional therapies to ease hot flashes
and other symptoms of menopause. While many herbal remedies may help ease those
discomforts, these therapies have not been proven to reduce risk of heart
disease or osteoporosis. If you're considering alternative therapies, talk to
your health care provider. Note, though, that not all doctors feel comfortable
recommending herbal or nutritional therapies for symptoms of menopause.
These leading female herbs, deemed safe by the FDA, appear to balance
estrogen in the body when the human hormone level becomes too low or too high.
They are available dried, as capsules or tinctures, or in teas:
- Dong quoi (Angelica sinesis) -- To quell hot flashes and regulate
hormonal production. Investigators have confirmed dong quois pain-relieving,
antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory activity.
- Ginseng -- A tonic that increases energy and endurance.
- Feverfew -- To relieve migraine headaches triggered by
perimenopausal hormone fluctuations.
- St. Johns wort -- Scientifically shown to relieve mild depression
- Valerian -- To promote sleep and relieve anxiety.
- Motherwort -- To relieve vaginal dryness.
- Wild yam -- Regarded as a progesterone-producing herb to ease hot
flashes and breast tenderness.
- Garlic -- Whether eaten or taken in deodorized capsules, may lower
harmful lipids and protect the heart.
These alternative therapies also may ease symptoms:
- Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) roots and stems -- Reduces hot
flashes and relieves depression and vaginal thinning. It is the main
ingredient in Remifemin, a widely used German product, and in "menopause" teas
and capsules. Note: do not use if you might be pregnant or are having heavy
- Vitex or chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) fruit -- May regulate
progesterone levels that contribute to fluid retention, bloating, breast
tenderness, headache and fatigue. It is often included with black cohosh in
menopausal products. Note: do not use this if you might be pregnant.
Interest in soybeans has been sparked by the theory that a soy-rich diet may
explain why Asian woman don't experience symptoms of menopause. Lab studies
reveal soy can significantly boost the high-density lipoproteins that protect
the heart -- a significant finding given that heart disease is the leading cause
of death in post-menopausal women. Soy also may prevent bone loss.
Tips on Natural Herbs
Natural isn't always safe. Some herbal remedies may have harmful side effects
in people with certain medical problems. Stop taking herbs and see your
physician if you develop uterine bleeding, a rash or any adverse reaction.
- Seek guidance. Contact a licensed herbalist or talk to your health care
provider if you are considering alternative therapies.
- Seek reputable herbal preparations. Herbal products are not uniform. To
make sure the ingredients you want are in the jar, read labels to learn genus
and species, known active ingredients and the amounts.
- Results may not be instant. It can take about six to eight weeks for most
herbs to work.
- Start with a lower dose. There is a therapeutic dosing range that may vary
with each individual, just as there is with drugs. If the dose is three
capsules three time a day, you may want to start with one capsule three times