Over The Counter Herbal Products
There are many complementary and alternative medicine products available over the counter and online, with various formulations of herbs and/or nutrients for treating the symptoms of menopause. The effectiveness of these preparations can vary greatly due to the combination of herbs used, as well as the quality or amounts of herbs used.
The best way to seek guidance about these herbal remedies is to consult a health practitioner trained in herbal medicine use, such as a herbalist/naturopath or Chinese medicine practitioner.
We know that about 13% of Australian women use CAM therapies for managing hot flushes, and that the three most commonly used CAM therapies are phytoestrogens , evening primrose oil and ginseng. We know that these are not necessarily the most effective remedies, and we also know that only about 25% of these women consult an expert for advice about these therapies. Therefore, many women may be making inappropriate or indeed, ineffective choices.
When buying herbal medicines over the counter, you need to consider some of these factors:
- The quality and standard of herbal preparations, including those available over the counter and online, can vary considerably
- Some herbal products can interact with other pharmaceutical therapies, but their labels might not necessarily carry a warning
- The best way to use herbal remedies is under the guidance of a well-trained herbalist/naturopath.
Black Cohosh Actaea Racemosa
For centuries, Native North American women have used black cohosh for menstrual cramps and menopausal symptoms.
Black cohosh is the most extensively researched of all herbs used for managing menopausal symptoms, and is available in many different formulations, which vary in quality and efficacy. Many of the clinical studies of black cohosh have used the commercially available product Remifemin®, or the extract Ze 450 .
It is not clear how black cohosh acts on the body. It does not appear to act like the female hormone oestrogen, but may be involved in modulating oestrogenic pathways in the body. It may mimic the actions of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
Precautions: black cohosh should be taken only for as long as your menopausal symptoms persist. It is generally well tolerated, although can cause headaches in some women. Headaches usually stop if the dose is reduced for a while, then gradually increased again.
Black cohosh is often used in early menopause brought on by cancer treatments, especially breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer. Of all the herbs, black cohosh has the most research about its safety in support of its use. It appears to be safe in breast cancer patients, although further research is needed. Women with breast cancer or other hormone-dependent tumours should always talk to their doctor before taking black cohosh.
Other Commonly Used Botanicals
Many other botanicals are commonly used for menopause including chastetree , hops , dong quai , evening primrose , Ginkgo , ginseng , kava , valerian , licorice root , motherwort , St. Johns Wort , lemon balm and wild yam . There is very little data available on the efficacy and safety of many of these compounds. summarizes the available data on some of the randomized trials that have been conducted on these botanicals for menopausal women in particular. However, much of the research that does exist has been conducted on non-menopausal populations and the findings related to sleep, anxiety, and mood have been extrapolated to the menopausal experience, which may not be valid.
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Choose An Herb For Stress
Menopause is often a very stressful time not only because of the changes that your body is going through, but also because:
- In those 4+ decades weve developed long-standing lifestyle and dietary habits that may or may not serve us. In addition, weve been exposed to multiple toxins , and pathogens .
- In addition, we may have also developed nutritional deficiencies that have quietly gone unnoticed.
All of this creates imbalance and puts the body in a state of stress. More specifically, chemical stress.
Lets also remember that we often tend to have responsibilities career, kids, hubby, taking care of aging parents, etc. during this phase of life. So, again, more stress .
Now, the thing with stress is that regardless of the source, the body reacts in the same way: cortisol production increases.
And chronically elevated cortisol can eventually lead to :
- a slower metabolism.
- gut imbalance.
- an overworked liver .
Any one of these factors alone can contribute to weight gain. But if they all occur at once then that exacerbates weight problems.
So, the first step to losing weight during menopause is to use herbs that support our stress response system.
This stress response system involves the central nervous system and the endocrine system .
In addition to herbs for stress, it can be helpful to also use herbs that help with liver function, blood sugar regulation and gut health. Heres a quick overview of why these herbs can help with weight loss.
When Does Menopause Start And How Long Does It Last
Menopause usually begins when a woman reaches her late 40s or early 50s and is marked by 12 months with no period. The symptoms of menopause and postmenopause normally last between 4-7 years with symptoms decreasing in intensity and frequency over time. The most common age women enter menopause is between 45 and 55, however, the age at which you start is most likely commonly determined by genes.
When Does The Menopause Start
Menopause usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. In fact, the average age to reach menopause in the UK is 51. In rarer cases, its possible to go through it in your early 40s or even before you hit 40. If you start to see signs of the menopause before you reach 45, its worth talking to a medical professional.
Joint Pain And Osteoporosis
Oestrogen has a protective effect on bones, so the less oestrogen you have, the more likely you are to suffer with weak bones. Changes in your bodys chemistry also affects the synovial fluid in joints, leading to stiffness, aches and sore joints for some women.
Its a good idea for all women to consider finding a good bone formulation, especially if you are concerned about osteoporosis after the menopause. Here are some ways in which you can protect bone health through nutrition.
- Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorous, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and Zinc are all needed for the normal maintenance of bones.
- Vitamin C is needed for the maintenance of collagen which is needed for bone health.
- Protein is needed for the normal maintenance of bones.
- Devils Claw, fish oils and magnesium are all also thought to be helpful to reduce joint pain.
Devils Claw is a particularly popular supplement amongst those suffering with joint pain or osteoporosis. A traditional herbal remedy used for the relief of backache, rheumatic or muscular pain and general aches and pains in the muscles and joints, it is a herb that grows in the South African Kalahari Desert and includes the active compound harpagosid.
Its also known as Grapple Plant, Wood Spider, and Hook Plant, and has been used medicinally for thousands of years by the San and Khoi people of the Kalahari Desert.
How to take these supplements
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Lead A Healthy Lifestyle
Menopause experts agree that eating a healthy balanced diet, with plenty of wholegrains and fruit and veg, can help your body cope with menopausal changes.
Exercise is important too. A large South American study found women exercising less than three times a week were 28% more likely to experience severe menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flushes and low mood.
The researchers think getting active can help ease stress and depression, which allows your brain to cope better with menopausal symptoms. You could try yoga preliminary research found a regular class may ease hot flushes.5
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Horny Goat Weed Epimedium Grandiflorum
Horny goat weed has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2000 years to enhance libido in men and women, as well as for symptoms of menopause and PMS. It is a popular herb, available over the counter, for both men and women seeking to improve libido and sexual function. However, there are no clinical trials using horny goat weed for menopausal symptom relief, or for sexual function.
Precaution: A single case of mania and increased heart rate has been reported in the scientific literature, associated with taking horny goat weed.
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Wild Yam: Alternative To Hormones
Pills and creams made from certain species of wild yam are popular alternatives to hormone therapy for menopause. Some of the natural compounds in these yams appear similar to estrogen and progesterone, but it’s possible they are not active in people. So far, clinical studies have not found that they ease menopause symptoms.
We Can Help You Understand The Supplements That Are Right For You
- Partner with a Health Coach to help you determine what supplements may be right for you to maximize your health and manage your menopause symptoms.
- Meet with a Gennev Doctor – our female care providers know EVERYTHING about menopause. They can help you understand your symptoms, and what your body needs to maximize your overall health and wellness
- Vitality our #1 supplement is a nutrient-packed multi-vitamin that supports mood, energy, stress response, immune health, joint pain, and inflammation
- Magnesium this super-power menopause supplement relieves joint pain, muscle cramps, Restless Leg Syndrome, headaches, depression, fatigue, anxiety and supports better sleep
- Heart & Brain Premium Omega 3 for Women – provides nutritional support for your heart and brain, plus helps to relieve dry eyes and dry skin
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Menopause Exercise And Diet
Many women are troubled by menopausal symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and psychological symptoms.
No supplement therapy can fully replace regular physical activity and a healthy diet, which are both essential to general good health. The Australian Governments Physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines recommend you:
- do 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week
- do muscle-strengthening activities at least two days each week.
- avoid long periods of sitting and, if you cant, take breaks from sitting as often as possible.
If you are in the postmenopausal age group you are at increased risk of developing:
- cardiovascular disease
Moderate exercise and a healthy diet help to reduce the risk of developing these diseases.
High-impact exercise such as running, skipping, jumping, hopping, high-impact aerobics and team sports such as netball and resistance-type activities can help improve your bone mineral density.
Herbs And Supplements For Menopause
Menopause is the natural decline of female reproductive hormone production and conclusion of a womans menstrual cycles. It usually begins during your 40s or 50s .
Common menopause symptoms include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, chills, night sweats, weight gain, irregular periods, labile moods, decreased sex drive, poor sleep, bone loss, headaches, anxiety, and depression .
Since its a completely natural process, treatments focus primarily on symptom management. A variety of pharmaceutical drugs are available, but the risk of side effects leads many women to use alternative therapies either alongside or instead of conventional treatments .
Remember to consult your healthcare provider before adding any supplements to your routine.
Here are 10 herbs and supplements commonly used to manage menopause symptoms, plus the evidence behind them and relevant safety information.
Long used in Native American herbal medicine to treat a variety of illnesses, its currently most often taken to alleviate night sweats and hot flashes associated with menopause.
Two reviews that included data on over 8,000 perimenopausal, menopausal, and postmenopausal women concluded that insufficient evidence exists to determine whether black cohosh is any more effective than a placebo at treating menopause symptoms .
However, the authors noted that more research may be warranted.
Nonetheless, this evidence is weak, and more research is needed.
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What Is The Best Menopause Treatment
Since every woman has to go through menopause at some stage in her life, hundreds of clinical trials and research studies are continuously being conducted in order to find the most appropriate method for these women to manage the symptoms they experience during this time in their lives.
This has led to the development of many different treatment measures that women can now utilize to help them overcome the unpleasant menopause symptoms.
WebMD explains that the specific type of treatment often also depends on some factors related to the woman who is experiencing these symptoms.
When it comes to a pharmaceutical approach, a woman who still has a uterus will often receive combination HRT , while a woman who does not have a uterus anymore may only be prescribed a dose of estrogen.
A lot of women do tend to experience adverse reactions to these particular treatment options.
This is a particular reason why natural supplements for menopause are becoming more-and-more popular these supplements often provide relief of the symptoms experienced by the woman going through menopause, without causing the dreadful side-effects often associated with hormone replacement therapy.
Best Herbs For Menopause
By Dr. Mary James, ND
Women experiencing hormonal symptoms in menopause and perimenopause often ask us can plants really help? My hot flashes, fatigue, anxiety and other symptoms are so strong. How can a gentle herb fix that?
Well, first of all, remember that most of our medicines are derived from plants, even chemotherapy drugs. But were not just interested in power here, were looking for a solution that works with your body. And thats whats great about the hormonal effects of plants a use that we call phytotherapy .
In menopause, you have a few basic treatment choices. You can get that prescription filled that your doctor may have given you for hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. Youre often expected to take a fixed amount of synthetic hormones that can cause side effects. And once you start taking them, you may end up taking themfor a long time. Your doctor may prescribe bioidentical hormone therapy, which can be helpful, but again can mean long term medication use.
Your other main option is to use herbal remedies. These herbs generally act two ways in the body:
1. Because of their receptor sites, they can have the same effect as your natural hormones, only milder, and so function more like a gentle, natural HRT.
You might think about it this way when you use herbs, you are letting your body drive the car in self-regulating your hormones and bringing them into balance. With hormone replacement therapy, your prescription is in control.
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Lumity Morning & Night Supplements
As we get older, and particularly as we go through the change, skin and hair can literally dry up. This is thanks to plummeting hormones, however, there are supplements that can help restore your skin and hair to their prime. We tried a lot in this category and unfortunately for this one, we found the more you pay, the better results you get.
Andrea McLean really loves this Lumity combo: Ive been taking them for about three months and Ive genuinely noticed a big difference in my nails, and my skin.
This is due to the high level of Omega 3 and amino acids. They dont only make your hair shiny though, they also help boost your immune system and create strong bones and teeth. Top tip, you can get 15% off your first order by signing up to their newsletter!
Menopause Supplements: Money Down The Drain
Popular menopause supplements have little scientific backing.
If youre struggling with menopause, supplements promising a hot flush fix or natural menopause support may appeal.
Unfortunately, theres no good evidence these high-priced herbals work.
Prof Lawton is blunt. Her view: supplements for menopausal symptoms are money down the drain.
Lax regulation of dietary supplements means manufacturers dont need approval before putting products on the shelf and there are plenty of them taking up space. We investigated the ingredients in several popular supplements and the evidence to support product claims.
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The Best 9 Supplements And Herbs For Managing Menopause Symptoms
Menopause symptoms are estimated to affect up to 85% of women during this period of life and can drive you crazy and make you miserable. To compound matters, menopause often coincides with other midlife stressors like divorce, career change, empty nest syndrome, and caring for elderly parents.
You cant prevent menopause. Its a natural phase of life, one that can even be liberating.
There are supplements you can take and lifestyle changes you can make to manage and get relief from menopause symptoms, which are. Taking steps to support your body is empowering and will help you optimize your health and wellbeing as you age.
What To Look For When Choosing Menopause Supplements
When choosing a menopause supplement, look for ingredients such as black cohosh, red clover, and saint johns wort. These ingredients were found to be highly effective in peer-reviewed clinical trials. A lot of menopause supplements also contain phytoestrogens from soy and other plants, but their efficiency is still unknown.
Other than that, you will find many different ingredients in menopause supplements that treat symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, depression, and vaginal dryness. Because the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, it can be hard to tell if the ingredients in your product are safe.
However, some products are manufactured in an FDA-approved facility and by the Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines, which is a sign that a product is safe for use.
Furthermore, look for products offering a money-back guarantee as this also is a sign that the manufacturer has your safety and satisfaction in mind. This also means you wont be throwing money away on products that dont offer any relief.
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