Natural Remedies For Menopause
While there are many good drugs on the market for relieving the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, many women prefer to go the natural route for a variety of reasons. However, it's important to remember that herbs can have a powerful effect on the body. Natural doesn't always equal gentle. Even when the herbs themselves are safe, using them in the wrong amounts, wrong combinations, or in conjunction with conventional drugs can be dangerous. For this reason, always consult a physician before embarking on an herbal treatment plan. Also, your doctor will have the latest research at his fingertips and can help you weigh the effectiveness and safety of the various herbal treatments.
Soybeans and foods made from soy byproducts have the most generous amounts of plant estrogens or phyoestrogens. These are also called isoflavones. Studies have suggested that drinking soy drinks or eating breads containing soy flour two times a day can help relieve hot flashes by both number and severity, though the results remain far from conclusive. There are other, more concentrated forms of soy, such as powders and pills, and these contain an increased amount of phytoestrogens, but while these may bring greater relief, no one knows just how much can be ingested without causing more harm than good or just what that harm might be.
There are other health benefits from soy. For instance, phytoestrogens can cut down your risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, and can help lower cholesterol. There is research that suggests phytoestrogens contribute toward reducing the risk of breast cancer because they may signal the body to stop producing natural estrogen when appropriate levels have been reached.
An ancient Chinese remedy, red clover has been used to treat a variety of ailments. Now, researchers have discovered that the herb contains high levels of phytoestrogens. For this reason, scientists are investigating its use as a treatment for menopause symptoms. The results of this research have been mixed, with some studies suggesting red clover can reduce hot flashes and increase bone density and strength, while other studies show the herb to have no significant effect.
Another Chinese herb, in use for thousands of years, is Dong Quai. The herb is used in Chinese medicine for PMS, irregular menstrual cycles, and the symptoms of menopause. Western researchers have yet to verify the effectiveness of Dong Quai for these purposes.
Many naturopaths believe that black cohosh contains phytoestrogens, but the jury is still out. The herb's roots are in Native American medicine and goes by many other names including: black snakeroot, bugbane, rattleroot and macrotys. Among the plant's traditional uses are as a gynecological treatment. While some research suggests black cohosh pills can alleviate menopause symptoms for the short term, no one knows what its effects might be in the long term. Some side effects are associated with herb, including: weight gain, headaches, and gastric distress.