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Top 10 Herbal Remedies for Menopause
- What herbal remedies contain as replacement
- Studies on menopause remedies
- Top 10 most popular and the benefits of a menopause diet
Many women may not choose to take synthetic drugs for menopausal symptoms. Their choice may be based on the fact that they don’t have to or simply that it’s too risky. BHRT (bio-identical replacement therapy) may be another option, since it is based on natural hormone replacement. If your selection is to remain in the mainstream of homeopathic, natural or herbal remedies for menopause, then you will probably have to accomplish a trial-and-error method to establish what works for you; starting with the top ten. Studies on herbal remedies are not plentiful, but they are promising.
According to WomensHealth.com: “Soy and soy products have been used for the alleviation of menopausal symptoms due to their high concentration of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant-derived compounds that possess estrogenic activity, and therefore could have some of the same effects as HRT, but their long-term safety has not been adequately studied. There is limited, and sometimes conflicting, research on the safety and effectiveness of many other popular herbal products that claim to help menopause, including ginseng, black cohosh, dong quai, and evening primrose.” Adding these as part of your menopause diet will take time to prove whether they work for you.
There are scientific studies of herbal remedies for menopause in the U.S. They have been small, but the results are encouraging. In Germany, 70% of physicians prescribe herbal remedies, which are covered by insurance. The German Health Department’s Commission on Herbal Remedies, known as Commission E, has reviewed 315 medical herbs. Two thirds of those reviewed are deemed safe and effective. Menopause remedies come in all shapes and sizes and you must consult with your primary medical caregiver before adding anything to your diet.
The American College of Obstetricians (ACOG) issued the following guidelines on the most popular “alternative” medicines also known as herbal remedies for menopause:
1. Soy and Isoflavones (plant estrogens found in beans, particularly soybeans)
High isoflavone intake (about 50 grams of soy protein per day) may be helpful in the short term (2 years or less) in relieving hot flashes and night sweats. Taken over the long term, it also may have beneficial effects on cholesterol and bones. While safe in dietary amounts, the consumption of extraordinary amounts of soy and isoflavone supplements may interact with estrogen and may be harmful to women with a history of estrogen-dependent breast cancer and possibly to other women as well.
2. St. John’s Wort
May be helpful in the short-term (2 years or less) to treat mild to moderate depression in women (when given in doses of less than 1.2 milligrams a day.) A recent study showed it is not effective in treating severe depression. It also can increase skin sensitivity to the sun and may interfere with prescription antidepressants.
3. Black Cohosh
May be helpful in the short term (6 months or less) to treat hot flashes and night sweats. It seems to be extremely safe, although studies have been small and brief, none longer than six months.
4. Chasteberry (also known as monk’s pepper, Indian spice, sage tree hemp, and tree wild pepper)
This may inhibit prolactin, a natural hormone that acts on the breast. It is touted for breast pain and premenstrual syndrome. There are very few studies in menopausal women. A study of women with premenstrual syndrome found they reported improvements in mood, anger, headache, breast fullness, but not bloating and other symptoms.
5. Evening primrose
This plant produces seeds rich in gamma-linolenic acid, which some experts believe is the nutritionally perfect fatty acid for humans. Although evening primrose capsules are taken for breast pain, bladder symptoms and menopausal symptoms, there is little or no evidence that they work. The one high quality study of effects on hot flashes found that evening primrose was no better than placebo.
6. Dong Quai
A study aimed at reducing hot flashes found that dong quai was not better than placebo – although the 4.5-gram dose used in the study was lower than that typically given in Chinese medicine. The herb is potentially toxic. It contains compounds that can thin the blood, causing excessive bleeding, and make the skin more sensitive to sun, possibly increasing skin cancer risk.
7. Valerian Root
This has traditionally been used as a tranquilizer and sleeping aid. But the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, which sets manufacturing standards for medicines, does not support its use, and there have been reports of heart problems and delirium attributed to sudden withdrawal from valerian. Use caution when adding to part of your menopause diet.
Most of the many types of ginseng (including Siberian, Korean, and American, white and red), are promoted for relieving stress and boosting immunity. A study of menopausal women by the leading ginseng manufacturer found the product did not relieve hot flashes but did improve women’s sense of well being. Analyses of ginseng products have found a troubling lack of quality control: some contained little or no ginseng, contained large amounts of caffeine, or were tainted by pesticides or lead. Before adding any of the menopause remedies to your diet, consult with a high quality health food store.
9. Wild and Mexican yam
There are no published reports that show wild and Mexican yam cream is effective in helping menopausal symptoms. The hormones in wild and Mexican yam do not have any estrogenic or progestational properties, so they are not expected to help women with these symptoms.
10. Red Clover
Red clover is one of the premium sources of phytoestrogens, plant estrogens that mimic the female sex hormone. These phytoestrogens help to increase the levels of estrogen in our bodies, thereby reducing menopausal symptoms. Red clover also contains many vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium and Vitamin C.
Before embarking on any herbal or natural additives, be sure to confer with your pharmacist to ensure that there aren’t any drug interactions with all medicine, OTC and other supplements.
Any use of an alternative treatment should be combined with a consultation with your medical physician. The information supplied in this article is not to be considered or used as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Hormonal Health17 Oct 2009|