Using Complementary Therapies Safely
Many people use complementary therapies without first checking with a health practitioner. They may do this because they think the therapies are ‘natural’ and so theres no harm in taking them. However, complementary medicines can have side-effects or interact with other medications. Or people may take the wrong type of therapy, and miss out on the right type of medical care.
If you want to use complementary therapies, be informed about the type of treatment you choose. Make sure you are advised by a healthcare practitioner trained in natural therapies. They can prescribe appropriately and know when to refer you for medical treatment.
Some complementary therapies are regulated under the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency . These include:
- traditional Chinese medicine
Complementary therapies that are not regulated by AHPRA are unregistered professions in Australia. They are self-regulated by their own professional associations. Standards of education and levels of expertise can vary a lot.
Always tell your doctor if you are taking any complementary medicines.
What Alternative Treatments For Menopause Have Been Scientifically Studied
The alternative treatments for menopause that have been studied in well-designed trials include phytoestrogens , black cohosh, and vitamin E.
Isoflavones are chemical compounds found in soy and other plants that are phytoestrogens, or plant-derived estrogens. Red clover is another source of isoflavones that has been used by some women in an attempt to relieve hot flashes. Isoflavones have a chemical structure that is similar to the estrogens naturally produced by the body, but their effectiveness as an estrogen has been estimated to be much lower than true estrogens.
There is a perception among many women that plant estrogens are “natural” remedies and therefore safer than HT, but their safety has never been proven scientifically. Further research is needed to fully characterize the safety and potential risks of phytoestrogens.
Some women report that vitamin E supplements can provide relief from mild hot flashes, but scientific studies are lacking to prove the effectiveness of vitamin E in relieving hot flashes. Taking a dosage greater than 400 international units of Vitamin E may not be safe, since some studies have suggested that greater dosages may be associated with cardiovascular disease risk.
Other alternative therapies
Choose A Healthy Diet
During menopause, stick to a healthy balanced diet. Doctors recommend eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamins D and B, and fiber.
You can create a dietary plan that includes healthy foods that you enjoy eating and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Dairy products may also help ease your symptoms and boost bone health. However, if you are lactose intolerant, you can get your vitamins and minerals from other food sources.
Menopause is a significant period in a womans life. Although it marks the end of your fertility period, it is also a major milestone and worthy of celebration. These tips can help you combat menopausal fatigue and live your best, healthiest life.
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Eat A Variety Of Vegetables And Fruit
A diet abundant in vegetables and fruits can help stop a variety of menopause signs. Fruits and vegetables can help you to feel full and are lower in calories, so theyre terrific for weight loss and weight maintenance. As you probably already know, fruits and vegetables have a wide number of vitamins and minerals to help you feel your best every day. By incorporating a variety of fruit and veg into your diet, youll be providing yourself with a balanced diet but also one that will keep you interested in your foods.
Korean Ginseng Panax Ginseng
The ginseng root is a Chinese medicinal ‘adaptogenic’ herb, which is a herb that may promote resistance to external and internal stresses and may improve your physical and mental function.
It may be used for relief of menopausal symptoms, stress, fatigue, physical exhaustion and loss of stamina. It is said to heighten your vitality and concentration and improve your sexual function and arousal. One study showed that ginseng improved the number of hot flushes compared to placebo, but overall it did not improve symptoms of hot flushes.
Precautions: Korean ginseng has been associated with postmenopausal vaginal bleeding . This could be related to an anticoagulant or oestrogenic effect of the herb. It should be used with caution in those on anticoagulant medications, such as warfarin, heparin and aspirin, and stopped a week before any surgery.
If you have hypertension , or drink excessive amounts of caffeine , you should not take Korean ginseng. It is also said perhaps to worsen infections, so is best avoided. You should only ever use it short-term .
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Safety Note About Natural Remedies
Always remember that natural does not necessarily mean safe. Many herbal, plant, and dietary supplements interact with prescription medications or may have a negative impact on chronic medical conditions. Natural approaches are not risk-free, and the more you know, the better you can choose treatments that will keep you safe and well.
Before deciding to use alternative and complementary remedies for your menopause symptoms, check with your medical provider and read up on possible side effects and cautions for any remedy you are considering.
Biofeedback And Relaxation Training
Biofeedback and relaxation techniques may include progressive muscle relaxation, relaxation combined with thermal control biofeedback training, paced respiration, at-home relaxation audiotapes, and applied relaxation, and have been used to treat menopausal symptoms. Biofeedback uses a device to monitor bodily functions that are normally automatic and provides feedback to the patient. Feedback and relaxation techniques are then used to control stress responses. In a systematic review of psychoeducational interventions to relieve hot flashes, reviewers identified 7 randomized trials that compared relaxation with an active or no-treatment control. Five of the trials,, reviewed indicated relaxation techniques may reduce the frequency of hot flashes and improve psychological symptoms of menopause. However, the authors caution about drawing conclusions due to the low study quality and small sample sizes. In a second systematic review and meta-analysis of relaxation techniques for menopausal symptoms, 4 studies,,,, , were identified that compared relaxation with a control for the reduction of menopausal symptoms. Researchers concluded that relaxation techniques may have a positive benefit on vasomotor symptoms and stress, yet due to low-quality evidence and inconsistent findings, relaxation techniques could not be recommended at this time. Because of the considerable overlap in studies reviewed, effect sizes are not reported.
Red Clover Trifolium Pratense
Traditionally, the flowers of red clover have been used for skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, and coughs.
Red clover is one of the most widely researched herbs for menopausal health. It contains phytoestrogens called isoflavones, which can have oestrogen-like actions in the body. Most of the research conducted on red clover has been on the preparation Promensil®.
It may be beneficial for hot flushes, but evidence for its effectiveness is conflicting, due to varying formulations and dosages. Some research suggests it may be more effective if you are postmenopausal rather than perimenopausal , and if you experience five or more hot flushes per day.
There is limited evidence that it may help to maintain bone health and perhaps reduce LDL cholesterol .
Precautions: The safety of red clover for patients with breast or endometrial cancer has not been established.
A True Natural Approach Addresses Perimenopause Symptoms At The Source
If youre suffering from perimenopause and menopause symptoms, you know how hard it can be to get through the day. Taking natural steps toward relief can help resolve the root cause of your symptoms by addressing imbalances between estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
In addition to providing effective relief, natural options dont have the added risk of side effects that commonly prescribed medications like antidepressants can carry.
Its essential to make the natural approach fit you and the way you live, so try these steps in any order that makes sense to you:
1. Nip your symptoms in the bud with optimal nutrition.
Your food choices are the most effective medicine that exists. Good foods for menopause include a balance of good fats , complex carbohydrates and lean protein at every meal . Also, try your best to eat three meals a day and two or more snacks to keep your blood sugar stable. Dont skip meals.
Optimal nutrition also includes getting enough vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. Even with a healthy diet, many women need a nutrient boost. For example, its hard to eat enough of the foods that will allow you to take in and absorb adequate folate a key B vitamin. However, you can do this by supplementing with Quatrefolic® the biologically active form of folate thats easier for your body to process and use.
2. Add herbal remedies that act like our own hormones.
3. Exercise to reduce the fat that can upset your estrogen and progesterone ratios.
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I Natural Remedies For Menopause 17 Menopause Symptoms
1. Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are a transient, sudden sensation of heat or warmth that spreads over the body, forming redness or flushing, that is especially noticeable on a womans face and upper body.
2. Night Sweats
Night sweats are severe hot flashes that happen during sleep associated with intense bouts of sweating. In fact, night sweats are not a sleep disorder, yet a common perspiration disorder which happens during sleep in those menopausal women.
3. Irregular Periods
Most females will experience short, absent, or irregular periods at certain times in their life. There are many triggers that cause irregular periods one of them is hormonal imbalance. In women of 40-mids, the hormonal imbalance is resulted from the reduction of estrogen and progesterone levels.
4. Vaginal Dryness And Pain With Intercourse
The reduced production of estrogen and progesterone could impact the thin layer of moisture which coats female vaginal walls. Thus, women could experience the condition of vaginal dryness. Though this condition can happen at any age, it is a particular problem for menopausal women. Signs consist of itching around the vulva and stinging or burning. Due to vaginal dryness, women will feel a little bit of pain during intercourse and might even bleed or feel like they need to urinate frequently.
5. Frequent Urination
6. Reduced Libido
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7. Mood Swings
8. Skin, Hair, And Other Tissue Modifications
10. Sleep Disorders
The Best Supplements For Menopause
Want to manage your menopause symptoms naturally? Since ancient times, women have found ways to harness nature to help with the menopause and the discomfort it can bring. Some herbal remedies for the menopause are anecdotal or based on traditional use, and others are backed by solid science.
A survey by the British Menopause Society found 95% of women would try natural remedies before hormone replacement therapy to help keep hot flushes, mood swings and other symptoms at bay.6
Either way, its your choice how you approach this time of change.
Read on to discover some natural menopause treatments that really work, plus the available evidence behind them.
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Chaste Tree Berry Extract For Irregular Periods
This herb helps regulate menstruation. Some patients say it also has a positive effect on their libido, while some studies suggest it may help relieve breast pain. Chaste tree berry is thought to work by increasing progesterone levels, which helps prevent the heavy menstrual cycles so common during menopause. There really are no good clinical studies on its use, but integrative practitioners have had years of positive results using it. This herb is also helpful if you develop PMS as part of your perimenopause. Preparations vary considerably, so follow the instructions on the package.
Do Menopause Supplements Work
As already mentioned, menopause supplements may work for some women, but because the studies on these products and their ingredients are inconclusive, we cannot know for sure.
What we do know is that women taking these supplements claim they offer relief and these claims often come from clinical trials.
Menopause supplements containing black cohosh are most likely to work, but so are those containing other botanicals that affect the hormones, and neurotransmitters.
Some of the botanicals used in menopause supplements address anxiety and depression symptoms, which might directly impact the severity of menopause symptoms.
This is because the severity of hot flashes and night sweats can become worse as a result of depression and anxiety as found in one study published in the journal Menopause.
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Prioritize Healthy Eating And Sleep
Certain foods can cause inflammation and make your menopause symptoms even worse. One study found that eating too many refined carbohydrates can actually increase depression in postmenopausal women. To figure out your triggers, Dr. Sholes-Douglas suggests trying a food elimination diet, where you remove common inflammatory foods and food groups like gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and soy, and then slowly add them back to see how each one impacts your symptoms.
Another good idea: If its become harder to fall and stay asleep since entering menopause, try improving your bedtime routine. Dont look at screens too close to bedtime, try to go to sleep at the same time each night, and keep your bedroom dark and cool, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends.
Can Supplements Ease Menopause Symptoms
There have been countless studies on menopause supplements conducted over the past 50 years. According to one systematic review of the effectiveness of BDS in the treatment of menopausal symptoms, the most extensively studied ingredients for menopause symptom relief are black cohosh and soy.
The efficiency of these ingredients is believed to be due to their estrogenic effect, but recent studies show that this is not the case with black cohosh.
Instead, black cohosh seems to alleviate menopause symptoms by affecting serotonin receptors and thus improving vasomotor functioning and mood.
Soy, on the other hand, contains high amounts of phytoestrogens which are believed to counteract estrogen deficiency seen in menopause.
However, the mechanism of action of these phytoestrogens is unknown, and studies on their effectiveness are inconclusive. Other ingredients that may offer relief to some women are red clover, dong Quai, evening primrose, hops, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, valerian, lemon balm, licorice root, and many others.
These ingredients were less studied than black cohosh and soy so their efficiency remains unknown.
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The Most Common Menopause Symptoms
Women can experience a variety of symptoms and conditions related to changes in sex hormone levels and aging. Some of the most common menopause symptoms include:
- Irregular periods: As perimenopause begins , periods can come and go, plus get heavier or lighter at times. This can sometimes continue for several years during menopause
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings, irritability, anxiety or depressive symptoms
- Vaginal dryness and decreased sex drive
- Increased abdominal fat and weight gain
- Insomnia and changes in sleep quality
- Thinning hair and dryer skin
- Going to the bathroom more often
- Breast changes
- Changes in the uterus, ovaries and cervix
- For some, a higher risk for certain other age-related diseases
Menopause Symptom: Hot Flashes
Hot flashes, also called hot flushes, are the most common menopause symptom. As many as three out of four women experience hot flashes. Some women begin having hot flashes before menopause, when they are still getting a period.
Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of heat in the upper part of your body. Your face and neck may become red. Red blotches may appear on your chest, back, and arms. You may also get heavy sweating during hot flashes or cold chills after the hot flashes. Some women get more cold chills than hot flashes.
Hot flashes are most common in women in the year before their period stops and in the year after their period stops. However, recent studies show that hot flashes can continue for up to 14 years after menopause., Doctors and researchers do not know why hot flashes are so common during menopause. There are medicines that can prevent some hot flashes, and there are ways you can try to manage hot flashes when they do happen.
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Natural Remedies For Menopause Relief
Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation and fertility, defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period. You can start to transition into menopause as early as your mid-30s, with most women entering menopause in their 40s or 50s . For some, menopause comes earlier due to health conditions, including a history of eating disorders, cancer treatment or surgical removal of the ovaries.
Menopause is a completely natural biological process, and therefore not a problem to solve. And although it concludes the time in a womans life for fertility, you can stay healthy, vital and sexual through your 50s and well beyond. That being said, there is generally a hormonal shift that occurs in women during menopause that may lead to mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia and other common symptoms.
What types of things can you do to help get find relief from menopause symptoms? First and foremost, its important to realize that in most women, symptoms such as night sweats will decrease over time and then often go away completely without any treatment, including hormone replacement drugs. As the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care puts it, Menopause is not an illness. It is normal for hormone levels to fall in middle age. These hormones do not need to be replaced.
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.
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