Herbs for Menopause
Herbs provide excellent alternatives to pharmaceuticals for making perimenopause and menopause more comfortable. When compared with artificial hormone replacement therapies, herbs are widely considered to be ethically superior and safer than drug therapies. Herbs used for menopause are generally well tolerated and, unlike pharmaceuticals, do not simply relieve hot flashes and discomforts associated with menopause; they can make your entire body healthier, prevent illness and enhance vitality.
Most herbal remedies must be taken consistently for several months before maximum effectiveness is obtained. Like all approaches to ensure a smooth transition through menopause, herbs are best used as part of a comprehensive wellness plan.
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective herbs to use during the perimenopausal period.
1. Sage: An Inexpensive Remedy for Hot Flashes
The herb I most commonly recommend for women who ask me about herbs for menopause is sage. The most common frustration of menopausal women is discomfort due to hot flashes, night sweats, excess perspiration and flushing of the skin. Ordinary garden sage provides rapid relief of all of these hot symptoms.
Sage is a readily available, inexpensive and safe herb to use. You may use tinctures or capsules of sage, or if you have an herb garden you may simply nibble on one or two leaves of the fresh plant each day. It can be grown year-round in a pot.
If you don’t mind the flavor of sage, you may choose to make tea. Simply pour 4 tablespoons of fresh sage or 4 teaspoons of dried sage into a quart jar. Fill the jar with one quart of boiling water and place a lid loosely on the jar. After 20 minutes, strain out the herbs. I recommend that one quart of sage tea be consumed throughout the day. Drink it at room temperature or chilled.
You may notice hot flash relief within just or day or two, but usually sage takes two to four weeks to reach maximum effectiveness.
In addition to relieving hot symptoms, sage relieves spasms, and is a gentle relaxant. It has been used for centuries as an aid for memory and concentration.
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2. Kudzu: Great for Women
If you have heard of kudzu, you likely know it by its unattractive reputation as the “vine that ate the south.” Indeed, kudzu can be an invasive plant. However, it has been used in Asia for many centuries as a valuable aid for women who are undergoing menopause.
Kudzu contains natural compounds called isoflavones, which relieve hot symptoms, including hot flashes and excess perspiration. Regular consumption of kudzu also helps to relieve the distressing, uncomfortable concern of vaginal dryness that many menopausal women experience. Furthermore, women often state that their memory is not as good as it was before menopause. Kudzu enhances thinking skills and improves memory, according to several research studies.
Kudzu has a long history of use as a thickener for food and is very safe. However, if you take medications to treat or prevent a recurrence of breast cancer, do not consume kudzu without consulting with your healthcare provider first. Experts recommend that further studies are needed before they can recommend the use of kudzu to women who have a history of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, however, most women can safely employ kudzu as an effective, well-tolerated alternative to artificial hormone replacement therapy for menopause.
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3. Nettle: Nutrients for Vitality
Nettle is a wonderful herb for women – and men – of all ages. It is especially beneficial for women going through menopause because it provides relief from symptoms and promotes future wellness. Dried nettle is frequently consumed as a tincture, tea or capsule. The dried leaves may be added to nutritional smoothies.
Your entire body will benefit from the nettle’s rich supply of vitamins and minerals. Nutrients in the nettle help to strengthen hair, which sometimes thins during menopause. It contains rich supplies of calcium and magnesium that prevent bone loss and promotes a healthy fluid balance, alleviating bloating, water retention, hypertension and cardiovascular illnesses.
The herb also helps to ensure that hormones function optimally. Nettle gently improves energy levels, relieves fatigue, and boosts feelings of well-being and vitality. Nettle is very safe and well-tolerated by most people.
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4. Saint John’s Wort: Stabilizes Changes in Mood
St. John’s wort is a valuable herb for menopausal women. While hot flashes and night sweats are commonly discussed, many women transition through menopause silently suffering from sadness and depression related to hormonal adjustments and changes in self-image. Anxiety and irritability may occur.
St. John’s wort has effectively relieved mild to moderate depression for two millennia. It helps to balance mood swings and reduce feelings of anxiety. St. John’s wort works especially well to relieve menopausal distress when combined with black cohosh.
900 to 1800 milligrams of standardized extract, which contains 3-5% hyperforin and/or 0.3% hypericin, is the usual recommended dosage. Sensitivity to sunlight may occur. St. John’s wort has the potential to interact with blood thinners, pharmaceutical antidepressants, and several other medications, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before using St. John’s wort.
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5. Eleuthero: Supports Longevity
Eleuthero, formerly called Siberian ginseng, has been the subject of intensive research. It improves overall wellness and is believed to slow down the aging process. Unlike American or Asian ginseng, which can be too stimulating for some women, eleuthero is not a true ginseng and is well tolerated by most women.
Eleuthero enhances the production and secretion of hormones. The herb improves memory and helps the body to cope with stress, regardless of whether or not it is due to physical or emotional causes. Eleuthero energizes and enhances a woman’s sense of well-being. It offers protective benefits for the cardiovascular system and minimizes hot flashes.
Eleuthero is available in many forms. Two to four grams of dried root (or equivalent) daily is recommended.
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6. Hops: Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Anxiety, night sweats, and increased urination make sleep difficult for many women who are going through menopause. To make things more complicated, most women undergo menopause when their careers and lives are placing a great deal of stress upon them. All this can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.
Hops is an ancient remedy for insomnia. It stimulates estrogenic activity, prevents fluid retention and promotes rest. Tea may be made from flowers, however, it is quite bitter. I recommend the use of a hops tincture. Hops are particularly effective when combined with the herb valerian.
You may even benefit by making a small pillow of dried hops and lavender flowers. Place that pillow in your pillowcase at night. These sleep pillows are an old remedy for sleeplessness.
Hops is generally well tolerated, however, it should not be used if you suffer from depression without prior consultation with a health care professional.
Read more about sleeping well despite menopause over at NewLifeOutlook.