Learn to treat the symptoms of this normal transition with the top three natural alternatives to prescription hormones
As they age, all women experience menopause. This phase of life comes about when the ovaries no longer produce an egg every month, menstruation ceases, and a woman is no longer reproductive. In common parlance, “menopause” describes any of the many changes a woman experiences just before or after she stops menstruating.
When menopause occurs after age 40, conventional medicine considers it “natural”—a normal part of aging. Some women can experience menopause early, and if it occurs before age 40, regardless of the cause, it is called premature menopause. Traditional natural healing systems, however, peg the normal age at around 54.
The process is gradual and is described in three stages. Perimenopause starts many years before menopause, as the ovaries gradually produce less estrogen. During the last two years or so of perimenopause, estrogen decreases more rapidly and many women begin to experience menopause symptoms. Officially, menopause is the time when a woman experiences her last menstrual period, but it isn’t diagnosed until a woman has gone without a period for 12 consecutive months. The years after this time are called—you guessed it—postmenopause. For most women, menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, then wane.
Menopause is one of the most confusing and controversial areas of contemporary American natural healing. Still, many women attest to the benefits of natural remedies for these persistent, and often miserable, symptoms. The following three remedies are effective and valuable at helping ease menopausal symptoms.
Remedy 1. Cool it—Black Cohosh Root
Although the current scientific evidence is mixed, black cohosh (Actaea racemosa, formerly Cimicifuga racemosa) is popular as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy in the treatment of hot flashes. Several studies have reported black cohosh improves menopausal symptoms. We don’t know definitively how black cohosh works, and if its action is hormonal in some way. A 2008 analysis of 32 combined scientific studies concluded that black cohosh has been proven to significantly reduce the frequency or severity of hot flashes.
Although black cohosh has been widely used by practitioners for years, its safety and efficacy have not been proven beyond six months; however, recent reports suggest that it is safe for at least six months. This may be long enough for hot flashes to diminish.
Herbalists often say that the dose used in studies is on the low side, so you might experience better results if you slowly increase the dose. The herb is also reported to help boost mood.
Remedy 2. Sharpen Up—Sage Leaf
Sage leaf (the kitchen spice, Salvia officinalis, not sagebrush) has been used in Europe for centuries as a spice and a medicine, and this herb has one of the best records of scientific validation for menopause symptoms.
The Latin name, salvia, means salvation. Martin Luther wrote, “Why should a man die whilst sage or salvation grows in his garden?” A preparation of extracts of the leaves of sage was found to abolish hot flashes and night sweating in two-thirds of tested menopausal women, and all others reported good response or a reduction in symptoms. This extract induced a significant increase in prolactin and thyroid stimulating hormone response. Sage contains compounds that may have mild estrogenic activity, and other constituents are anti-inflammatory.
Recent studies show that sage also decreases bone loss and has substantial mood, anxiety, stress-reducing, and cognitive-enhancing effects.
Did You Know?
You can find trusted information on menopause at womeninbalance.org, a nonprofit organization of women, physicians, and holistic practitioners.
Remedy 3. Bone Up, Cheer Up—Vitamin D
Vitamin D (actually a hormone) is a real workhorse for menopause. It has been shown repeatedly to increase mood, boost immune function, and prevent heart disease. And of course, it’s critical for calcium to be able to retain bone mass. Women entering perimenopause and menopause, with its accelerated bone loss, can slow the reduction by getting enough vitamin D. A 2009 study of men and women with mean ages of 70 and 68 years, respectively, reported that 85 percent had vitamin D deficiency and found an association between osteoporosis and low vitamin D levels. And, a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that three out of four Americans do not get enough vitamin D.
Studies have shown that adults need 1,000 to 5,000 IU per day. Other research has found that healthy adults can readily metabolize up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day without harmful side effects.
|A. Vogel Sage Menopause Tablets contain 15 mg dried extract of organically grown sage per tablet, equivalent to 1,000 mg of fresh sage extract.|
Super Nutrition Before, During and After Menopause Multiple is a food-based multivitamin with 1,000 mg of vitamin D, 80 mg of black cohosh, and a blend of other important nutrients, including B vitamins, wild yam, and red clover.
|Rainbow Light Just Once Menopause One Multivitamin combines vitamin D3 (400 IU) with black cohosh—and a host of other nutrients. To boost your vitamin D intake, try Rainbow Light vitamin D 1,000 IU sunny gummies.|