Herbal Medicine and Menopause
I see many women in my clinic who are seeking an alternative to HRT and the management of menopausal symptoms. I've recently been looking at the various over the counter remedies that women can access for the relief and managment of these symptoms and wanted to share a few of them with you.
Sage is one of the first remedies to try for Menopausal hot flushes and night sweats. It has a cooling drying action and contains plant oestrogens. It not only reduces sweats but also helps the body adapt to the hormonal changes involved. It has a long history of use as a nerve tonic, calming and stimulating the nervous system.
Vitex Agnus-Castus is of most use in treating menopausal symptoms which exist prior to the cessation of menstruation. It has a hormone balancing action and is best taken in the morning when the hypothalamic-pituitary axis in the brain is most active as it will have the best hormonal influence at this time. It is, to date, the only herb with a progesterone–type activity. Vitex may also help with migraines linked to the menstrual cycle. Vitex is usually used when there are still menstrual periods.
St John's Wort is a very useful herb for menopause. It is of particular use for symptoms of low mood or anxiety which are common in menopausal women.
Black Cohosh and Sage is a formula that I developed for women who have uncomplicated menopause symptoms. It is a gentle formula that will support the management of a number of menopause symptoms.
Diet is also an important area in the management of the symptoms of menopause and research has shown that a group of plants containing the compound phytoestrogen may be especially effective due to their oestrogen like actions. These foods include Soya, linseeds, beans and pluses along with plants such as Liquorice, Red clover and Sage. By combining herbs such as these, making dietary changes and using gentle hormone regulators such as Vitex agnus castus, the herbalist is able to tailor make a prescription for the patient.
Keep a diet diary to see exactly what you are doing on a daily basis and work up some meal plans. To balance weight, increase proteins and vegetables and reduce carbs.
Black Cohosh is a herb with a traditional use for managing symptom of menopause. Hot flushes and night sweats are reduced. Herbalists create remedies using a combination of herbs and recent research has shown that Black Cohosh combines well with St Johns Wort to relieve anxiety and flushing. I often combine both these herbs with a cold herb tea containing Sage, Hibiscus, Rose and Chrysanthanum. I call this my ‘ Cool and Collected Herb Tea Blend’. Make your tea good and strong, three teaspoons per teapot, allow to sit until cold (this can be made before bed and by morning it is cold). Carry this in a water bottle and sip throughout the day. This will reduce flushing.
Generally, this is a good time give yourself an MOT. Make sure you are exercising and eating properly and have some down time to relax. Approach this as a positive time and you will reap the benefits.
I have written in more detail about treating the symptoms of menopause with herbs here: /health-concerns/menopause/herbal-medicine-and-menopause
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