Menopause is a time of great change, with many women experiencing uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms. There are a number of ways to ease the symptoms of menopause, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT), stress reduction techniques, healthy diet and exercise, and the use of herbs and dietary supplements. Many women find some relief from herbs and supplements, which are generally considered safe if used wisely.
- Consult with Your Doctor: Some symptoms of menopause and perimenopause could also have other root causes, so women who are experiencing what they believe to be menopause should schedule a check-up with their doctors to rule out any underlying illness. That appointment is also a good opportunity to discuss treatment options, including the use of herbal and dietary supplements.
- Do Your Homework: Depending on the severity of symptoms, a number of herbs or dietary supplements may be helpful. A good multi-vitamin may be helpful to provide a little insurance since many of us don't always eat as well as we should. Trained herbalists and holistic practitioners can offer a wealth of information regarding specific supplements, as well as recommend individualized dosages.
- Consider Soy: American women typically suffer considerably more menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings than their Japanese counterparts. Researchers believe that the difference may be attributed to dietary variations, especially the lack of soy foods in typical western diets compared to traditional Asian ones. Increasing consumption of soy-based foods and/or choosing high quality soy supplements may ease some menopausal symptoms.
- Black Cohosh: Supplementation with the herb black cohosh has gotten a lot of attention recently. Some women report up to a 70% reduction in hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings by including black cohosh in their daily supplements.
- Red Clover: While studies are still underway, red clover is showing promising results in some menopausal women, reducing hot flashes and improving both cardiovascular health and the bone loss associated with osteoporosis.
- Evening Primrose Oil: Women worldwide have used evening primrose oil to help alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and find that it works well for menopausal symptoms as well.
- Dong Quai: Used to relieve hot flashes and vaginal dryness associated with menopause, dong quai also acts as a mild sedative, which may help with the mood swings that many women describe.
- Maca Root: Maca root is thought to balance the hormones estrogen and progesterone, easing the symptoms of menopause. Users find that it also helps increase libido, which can be beneficial for women who notice a decrease in their sex drive.
While herbal and other dietary supplements may offer women relief for their menopausal symptoms, they are not without risk. Much like traditional medicines, some herbs and supplements can have unpleasant or dangerous side effects, especially when overused. A consultation with a well-informed and forward-thinking physician can help women to make sound decisions about all aspects of their health care, including dietary supplementation.