Many women experience the troublesome symptoms of menopause. For those who opt for the natural, herbal approach, there are several available menopause remedies that help decrease the symptoms associated with this condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, around 40 percent or more of women suffer with considerable symptoms. These include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, changes in periods, mood swings, irritability, and bladder issues. Thankfully, natural menopause remedies with herbs, homeopathic medicines, and foods can allow some relief in the place of controversial hormone replacement treatment.
Menopause is caused by changing hormones, specifically progesterone and estrogen. Basically, menopause is the permanent end of menstruation, marked as no period for twelve months. It is not a medical illness, but a natural biological process. The average age for menopause is 51. The months leading up to menopause is known as the perimenopausal era.
There are many natural products for sale that claim to relieve menopausal indicators. While these are not regulated by the FDA, researchers have found that certain remedies offer significant relief. Before taking any natural remedies, you should thoroughly discuss these with your healthcare provider.
Black Cohosh – One of the most widely used natural alternatives for menopause is black cohosh. Standardized extracts of this herb have shown to reduce hot flashes according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The recommended dose is 80 milligrams per day, taken in divided doses. Women who have a history of breast cancer are warned to refrain from using this product, however, due to its effects on breast tissue. Side effects of black cohosh include headaches and gastrointestinal discomfort.
Vitamin E – This vitamin provides relief from mild hot flashes in some women. It is crucial to note that taking more than 400 international units of vitamin E supplements daily could not be safe.
Belladonna – This remedy may be useful for the flushes of heat associated with the perimenopausal period. Side effects of belladonna include gastrointestinal upset, headaches, and dry mouth.
Lachesis – This herbal treatment helps those who possess strong emotions, such as suspicion and jealously. Lachesis can lead to thinning of the blood, so use with caution.
Dong Quai – Also known as Chinese angelica, Dong Quai helps balance the hormones associated with menopause to reduce hot flashes. This herb is available in tea, tincture, extract, or capsules and the common dose is 3 to 4 grams per day. Be cautious with this product as side effects include sun sensitivity and drowsiness.
Soy and Isoflavones – Plant estrogens are helpful for hot flashes and night sweats. An added benefit to taking these is that they have a beneficial effect on cholesterol and bone health. Plant estrogens are also known as phytoestrogens. Foods that contain soy and isoflavones include chickpeas, soybeans, and legumes. Since phytoestrogens have been found to have weak estrogen-like effects, they are contraindicated if you have breast cancer.
Red Clover – To ease the vaginal discomfort of menopause, red clover is recommended. This is a perennial herb that contains isoflavones, which mimic the effects of estrogen to relieve vaginal dryness. Red clover also contains calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C. The average dose is 400 to 500 milligrams. Some women experience nausea and headaches when taking this herb.
Maca Root – A herb native to South Africa that resembles a radish, maca root helps treat vaginal dryness. According to some studies, this root also gives the libido a boost. The recommended daily dosage is 900 milligrams, taken three times a day with food. Side effects include stomach upset and fatique.
Calendula Douche – The herb calendula helps relief vaginal dryness by reducing inflammation. An additional benefit of calendula is that it inhibits bacterial growth.
Dong Quai – This herbal remedy is native to China and is marketed to relieve vaginal dryness. Be cautious, however, as side effects include mild sedation and sun sensitivity. The typical dose is 500 milligrams daily.
Ginseng – Used for thousands of years by the Chinese, this herb is useful for keeping the vaginal walls supple and healthy, therefore preventing dryness, tearing, and pain. Added benefits of ginseng are relief of moodiness, insomnia, and hot flashes.
Kegel Exercises – Many women who go through menopause have stress incontinence and bladder leakage. To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, do Kegel exercises.
Black Cohosh – To relieve vaginal thinning and urinary discomfort, try black cohosh.
Irregular, Heavy, or Scant Periods
Milk Thistle – Another herb that helps deal with the hormonal changes associated with menopause is milk thistle. Heavy periods are brought on by too little or too much of the female hormones and milk thistle helps regulate these.
Theanine – Theanine is a superb adjunct for controlling perimenopausal stress. Derived from tea leaves and native to eastern Asia, this product has a relaxing effect. Side effects to theanine include dizziness, headaches, and stomach upset.
Ignatia – This herbal remedy is useful for the ups-and-downs of menopausal emotions. Ignatia comes from the dried ripe seed of the Stychnos ignatii family.
Lilium Tigrinum – To relieve anxiety and mood swings that come with menopause, many find lilium tigrinum helpful.
Pulsatilla – This homeopathic product can assist you with mood stabilization, especially if you tend to be weepy and cry easily.
Staphysagria – For the depression and irritability associated with the perimenopausal era, many use staphysagria with favorable results.
Wild Yam – Wild yam is an admirable menopause treatment for regulating progesterone, the hormone that plays a necessary role in controlling moods. This product is used for moodiness, irritability, anger, and depression.
Holistic Exercises – Many find that yoga, pranayama, meditation and self hypnosis help to relieve the anxiety and stress associated with menopause. These alternative therapies have also been found to decrease hot flashes.
Sulphur – For the anxiety and difficulty sleeping associated with menopause, sulphur is an acceptable alternative treatment.
Herbal Teas – For the insomnia that comes during the perimenopausal period, try drinking a soothing cup of valerian or chamomile tea an hour or so before bedtime.
St. John’s Wort – Because many menopausal women have a depressed mood, this herbal remedy is the solution. Recent scientific studies have shown that St. John’s Wort helps for short-term, mild depression in doses of less than 1.2 milligrams per day.
Calcarea Carbonica – For the weight gain associated with the menopause era, you may find this remedy beneficial.
Graphites – For the woman who is menopausal, weight gain can be warned off with graphites. Try graphites of 30 milliliters three or four times each day.
Glonoinum – Many women suffer with pounding headaches during the perimenopausal period. Glonoinum can offer relief for these surging sensations.
Natrum Muriaticum – Also known as sodium chloride or table salt, natrum muriaticum is suitable for alleviating the headaches that often accompany menopause. It is thought to work by increasing red blood cell-production and assisting in albumin function.
Tips for Surviving Menopause
- Decrease vaginal discomfort with over-the-counter water-based vaginal lubricants and moisturizers. Good products include Vagisil, Replens, and Astroglide.
- Optimize sleep by avoiding caffeine and exercising regularly.
- Cool down hot flashes by dressing in layers, avoiding hot beverages and spicy foods, and limiting alcohol consumption.
- Avoid smoking which increases hot flashes and brings on premature menopause.
- Eat a well balance diet and get plenty of calcium. Make sure you choose foods high in vitamin C to get the bioflavonoids that reduce menopausal symptoms.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as self hypnosis for positive menopause, deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. Relaxation is one of the best menopause remedies that exist.
- Amato, P., Christophe, S., & Mellon, P.L. (2002). Estrogenic activity of herbs commonly used as remedies for menopausal symptoms. Retrieved from: http://ukpmc.ac.uk/abstract/MED/11875334
- MayoClinic.com (2012). Menopause. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/menopause/DS00119
- Newton, K.M. et al. (2002). Use of Alternative Therapies for Menopause Symptoms: Results of a Population‐Based Survey. Retrieved from: http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Fulltext/2002/07000/Use_of_Alternative_Therapies_for_Menopause.4.aspx