Natural Remedies For Menopause Symptoms
Menopause marks the next stage in a woman's life & requires no medical treatment. Natural remedies are reported to be successful in not only managing some of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause, but also helping prevent the associated conditions that can occur with aging.
What is menopause?
Menopause is the time in a woman’s life that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It's diagnosed after you have gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Many women have irregular periods and other issues of perimenopause for years. It's hard to predict when menopause starts, although doctors agree it's complete when a woman hasn't had a period for a complete year. About eight percent of women stop menstruating before age 40. At the opposite end of the spectrum, five out of every 100 continue to have periods until they are nearly 60. Menopause can occur in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51 in the US.
Menopause is a natural biological process. Nevertheless, the physical symptoms, such as hot flashes, and psychological symptoms of menopause may interrupt your sleep, decrease your energy, or affect psychological wellbeing. There are lots of effective treatments available, from lifestyle alterations to hormone treatment.
Menopause represents the end of menstruation. While technically it refers to the last menstrual period, it's not an abrupt event, but a gradual process. Menopause isn't a disease that has to be cured, but a natural life-stage transition. However, women need to make important decisions about managing their symptoms, including the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
There's no method to ascertain when the ovaries will start to scale back in producing hormones. However, a woman can find a general idea based on her family history, body type, and lifestyle. Women who began menstruating early won't necessarily stop having periods early. A woman will probably enter menopause at about the same age as her mother.
What causes menopause?
Once a woman enters puberty, every month her body releases one of the more than 400,000 eggs which are stored in her ovaries, and the lining of the uterus thickens in anticipation of getting a fertilized egg. If the egg does not get fertilized, progesterone levels drop and the uterine lining eventually sheds and bleeds in a process called menstruation.
From the time a woman reaches her late 30s or 40s, her ovaries begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone and release eggs less often. The slow decline of estrogen causes a huge selection of changes in cells that respond to estrogen--such as the vagina, vulva, uterus, bladder, urethra, breasts, bones, heart, blood vessels, brain, skin, hair, and mucous membranes. Over the long run, the lack of estrogen can make a woman more vulnerable to osteoporosis (which could start in the 40s) and cardiovascular disease.
As the amounts of hormones fluctuate, the menstrual cycle begins to change. Some women may have more intervals with heavy flow followed by shorter cycles and hardly any bleeding. Others will start to miss periods completely. In this period, a woman also becomes unable to become pregnant.
What are menopause symptoms?
Symptoms, including changes in menstruation, are different for each woman. Most likely, you will experience some irregularities in your periods until the end. Skipping periods during perimenopause is normal and expected. Many times, menstrual periods will skip a month and return, or bypass a few months and then begin monthly cycles for a month or two. Periods also tend to take place on shorter cycles, so they're closer together. Despite irregular periods, pregnancy is possible. If you have skipped a period but are not sure you have begun the menopausal transition, think about a pregnancy test.
The most common symptom of menopause is a change in the menstrual cycle, but there are various other symptoms as well, such as:
• hot flashes
• night sweats
• mood swings/irritability
• memory or concentration problems
• vaginal dryness
• heavy bleeding
• hair affects
• heart palpitations
• sexual disinterest
• urinary changes
• weight gain
The clearest sign of menopause is the absence of a period for one year. Additionally, it is possible to diagnose menopause by testing hormone levels. If it's been at least three months as a woman's last period, a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test may help in determining whether menopause has occurred. FSH levels rise steadily as a woman ages. The FSH test alone can't be applied as evidence that a woman has entered premature menopause. An improved measure of menopause is to find out the amount of FSH, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormones.
Natural treatments for menopause symptoms
Menopause requires no medical treatment. Rather, treatments focus on relieving your symptoms and signs and preventing or managing chronic conditions that may occur with aging.
Natural remedies are reported to be successful in managing some of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause. Not all women need estrogen and some women can't take it because of adverse side effects. Many doctors don't want to give hormones to women that are still having their periods, however erratically. Just a third of menopausal women in the US try HRT and of people who do, eventually half of them drop the treatment.
General dietary recommendations include raw foods, fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and fresh vegetable juices. Some foods are recommended because they contain phytoestrogens. Intake of dairy products and legumes should be decreased. Pork and lunch meats should be avoided.
Ayurveda, TCM & Herbs
Herbs have been used to alleviate menopausal symptoms for centuries. Women who decide to take herbs for menopausal symptoms should find out as much as possible about herbs and work with a skilled practitioner (an herbalist, a traditional Chinese doctor, or a naturopathic doctor).
This list of herbs includes those who Ayurveda, TCM, & herbal practitioners recommend dealing with menopausal symptoms:
• black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa): shown to reduce hot flashes, other menstrual complaints in a recommended dose of 20 mg twice per day
• black currant: breast tenderness
• chaste tree/chaste berry (Vitex agnus-castus): hot flashes, excessive menstrual bleeding, moodiness
• chickweed (Stellaria media): hot flashes
• evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis): mood swings, irritability, breast tenderness
• fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): hot flashes, digestive gas, bloating
• flaxseed (linseed): Excessive menstrual bleeding, breast tenderness, and other symptoms, including dry skin and vaginal dryness
• ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba): memory Issues
• ginseng (Panax ginseng): hot flashes, fatigue, vaginal thinning
• hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata): memory problems, fuzzy thinking
• horsetail (Equisetum arvense): osteoporosis
• woman's mantle: excessive menstrual bleeding
• Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root: overall menopausal symptoms
• Mexican wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) origin: vaginal dryness, hot flashes, overall menopause symptoms
• motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca): night sweats, hot flashes
• oat (Avena sativa) straw: mood swings, anxiety
• passionflower (Passiflora incarnata): insomnia, pain
• raspberry leaf: normalizes hormonal system
• sage (Salvia officinalis): mood swings, headaches, night sweats
• skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): sleeplessness
• sesame oil: vaginal dryness (applied topically)
• valerian (Valeriana officinalis): sleeplessness
• violet (Viola odorata): hot flashes.
Proponents of plant estrogens (including soy products) believe that phytoestrogens are better than artificial estrogen, but this hasn't yet been proven. The results of small preliminary trials suggest that the estrogen compounds in soy products may alleviate the intensity of hot flashes and reduced cholesterol. It hasn't been demonstrated that soy may provide all of the advantages of synthetic estrogen with no negative consequences.
Women in other countries who consume foods high in plant estrogens (particularly soy products) have lower rates of breast cancer and report fewer symptoms of menopause. While up to 80 percent of menopausal women in the US complain of hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness, just 15 percent of Japanese women have similar complaints. When all other things are equal, a soy-based diet can make a difference (and soy is extremely high in plant estrogens). 1 study showed positive effects of soy, but they only lasted about six weeks.
Several studies have demonstrated that a black cohosh extract (Remifemin) relieved menopausal symptoms as well as or better than estrogen and that it demonstrated the best promise among alternative treatments. Side effects were infrequent. Flaxseeds also are a great source of phytoestrogens. Other resources include red clover leaf, licorice, wild yam, chickpeas, pinto beans, french beans, lima beans, and pomegranates. In 2003, red clover leaf was believed to provide relief for hot flashes, but in just two brief clinical trials, it failed to demonstrate hot flash relief.
Herbal practitioners recommend a dose based on a woman's history, body size, lifestyle, diet, and reported symptoms. In one study at Bowman-Gray Medical School in North Carolina, girls could alleviate their symptoms by eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, together with 4 ounces of tofu four times weekly.
A lot of women believe natural or plant-based means benign. In large doses, phytoestrogens can promote the abnormal growth of cells in the uterine lining. Unopposed estrogen of any sort may result in endometrial cancer. But a plant-based progesterone product occasionally can be effective, without estrogen, in helping the menopausal woman in rebalancing her menstrual action during this transition period.
Homeopathic remedies for menopausal symptoms have been effective for many women. For best results, the patient should consult a naturopathic doctor. However, the following remedies may be attempted to alleviate certain groups of symptoms:
• Lachesis: hot flashes, irritability, talkativeness, tightness around stomach, dizziness, fainting
• sepia: bleeding between periods, chilliness, tearfulness, withdrawal from loved ones, sinking feeling in the stomach
• pulsatilla: tearfulness, thirstless, feels better with other people, avoids heat, hot flashes, varicose veins, hemorrhoids
• sulfur: philosophical character, feeling sexy, itching and the burning of vagina and anus
• lycopodium: low self-esteem, bloated after eating, rare menstruation, low blood sugar, weak digestion, belching
• Argentum Nitricum: gas, indigestion, craving for chocolate and sweets, panic attacks, fear of crossing bridges
• Magnesium Phosphoricum: severe cramping
• transitional formula: hot flashes, night sweats, sleeplessness, skin-crawling feeling
• women's formula: perimenopause, PMS, irregular cycles, infertility, absent or excessive bleeding, menopausal distress
• vital formula: anxiety, headaches, palpitations, PMS, mood swings
Many women find that yoga can ease menopausal symptoms. Yoga focuses on helping girls unite the mind, body, and soul to create balance. Since yoga has been shown to balance the endocrine system, some experts believe it might influence hormone-related issues. Studies have found that yoga can reduce stress, improve mood, boost a slow metabolism, and slow down the heartbeat. Specific yoga postures deal with particular issues, such as hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal and urinary problems, and other distress.
Exercise helps ease hot flashes by lowering the amount of circulating FSH and LH and by increasing endorphin levels (which fall during a hot flash). An exercise routine of even 20 minutes duration three times a week can significantly reduce hot flashes. Weight-bearing exercises help prevent osteoporosis.
Routine, daily bowel movements to get rid of waste products in the body can be crucial in maintaining balance through menopause. The intestines are where circulating hormones have been accumulated and removed, keeping the body from recycling them and causing an imbalance.
This ancient Asian art involves putting very thin needles into distinct meridian points on the body to trigger the system and unblock energy. It typically is painless and has been used for many menopausal symptoms, including insomnia, hot flashes, and irregular intervals.
Acupressure and massage
Therapeutic massage between acupuncture may bring relief from a wide assortment of menopause symptoms by placing finger pressure in the exact meridian points on the body which are used in acupuncture. There are more than 80 different kinds of massage, such as foot reflexology, Shiatsu massage, and Swedish massage, but they all are based on the idea that boosting the flow of lymph and blood benefits health. Breast massage (rubbing against castor oil or olive oil on the breasts for five minutes thrice weekly) balances hormone levels, helps the uterus contract through puberty and prevents cramping pains.
Some women have managed to control hot flashes through biofeedback, a painless technique that helps someone train her mind to control her body. A biofeedback machine offers information about body processes (for example, heart rate) as the woman relaxes her body. Using this technique, it's possible to control the body's temperature, heart rate, and breathing.
Supplementation with magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, boron, manganese, and phosphorous is used to prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin E supplementation can decrease hot flashes and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Therapeutic touch, an energy-based clinic, can alleviate menopausal symptoms. Cold compresses on the face and throat can ease hot flashes. Sound or music therapy can alleviate stress and other menopausal symptoms. Prayer or meditation can help improve healing ability.
Prevention of menopause
Menopause is a natural state of aging. Some women don't have any issues with menopause, while others notice significant unpleasant symptoms. Outcomes of allopathic and alternative treatments vary from one woman to another. Menopause cannot be prevented, though some of those symptoms may be relieved from the remedies listed above.
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2. Gayle's Encyclopedia for Alternative Medicine
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5. Natural Woman. NaturalMenopause. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997 Teaff, Nancy Lee, and Kim Wright Wiley. Perimenopause: Preparing for the Change. Prima Publishing, 1996