Menopause is a natural time in every womans life where menstruation stops. Because of these hormone changes, a woman can no longer become pregnant. Normally, the age range for menopause is between 45-55 years old. The time frame that occurs prior to the cessation of menses is called peri-menopause, which can last from 1-3 years. After a full year of not having a menstrual cycle, menopause is complete and women enter post-menopause.
The reason that women stop menstruating is that as time goes on, the womans ovaries slow down the production of eggs until they stop. The ovaries also slow down the production of hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone. The decrease in sex hormone production may cause symptoms as the menstrual cycle becomes irregular, slows and finally ceases.
The majority of women (up to 70%) will experience symptoms during this transition period including: mood swings, anxiety, depression, hot flashes, low libido, sleep disturbances, palpitations, memory problems, digestive disturbances, night sweats, skin flushing, headaches, vaginal dryness (which can lead to painful sex, urine leakage and an increase in vaginal infections), weight changes and food cravings. The intensity of symptoms fluctuates in different women and can last from months to years.
Nutrition and Supplements - Herbs for Menopause
Try the following natural remedies and herbs for menopause:
Eat a diet rich in whole natural, unprocessed foods, with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts and healthy fats, and low in saturated fats, fried foods, white flour, sugar, and salt.
- Increase foods high in phytoestrogens, such as soy products, in moderation 1-2 servings/day and flaxseed.
- Increase calcium in your diet to protect your bones. You can load up on calcium by eating spinach, dairy products, clams, sardines, broccoli and legumes. There are also excellent sources of calcium available in natural health supplements.
- Avoid alcohol, which can make hot flashes worse.
- Make sure youre getting essential fatty acids in your diet, which can be found in pumpkin seeds, walnuts, linseeds, fish, dark green vegetables and oils such as sesame, walnut, soya and sunflower. Natures Source offers a good variety of high quality blended Omega 3 oils.
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage contain compounds that help the liver process hormones while reducing the risk of breast cancer.
- Soy foods (tofu, soy milk, soybeans, soy nuts) contain isoflavones (plant-based estrogens) that help to minimize menopausal symptoms, offer protection against breast cancer, and improve bone health.
- Flaxseeds are a rich source of fibre, which promotes bowel regularity, reduces the risk of colon and breast cancer, and lowers cholesterol. Flaxseeds also contains lignan (phytoestrogens) that may help reduce menopausal symptoms.
Herbs and Supplements
Black Cohosh: (Actaea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa) This herb has received quite a bit of scientific attention for its possible effects on hot flashes. Recent research suggests that black cohosh does not act like estrogen, as once thought. This reduces concerns about its effect on hormone-sensitive tissue (eg, uterus, breast). Black cohosh has had a good safety record over a number of years.
Red Clover: (Trifolium pratense) This is a plant native to Europe, North America as well as parts of Africa and Asia. The flower of this plant is the most commonly used part. Because of the isoflavones that it contains, Red Clover has been used for many years as a remedy for menopausal symptoms including mood swings and hot flushes. This makes it a natural alternative to traditional hormone replacement therapy.
Dong Quai:(Angelica sinensis) Dong quai has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat gynecologic conditions for more than 1,200 years. As a phytoestrogenic herb, dong quai may help balance estrogen levels during menopause. Menopausal women, especially those in the early stages, often face rapidly fluctuating estrogen levels. This imbalance is the trigger for common symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, sleeplessness, and vaginal dryness. Dong quai is thought to replace estrogen when it is in decline and compete with natural estrogens when they are too high, making the herb a good treatment for hormonal imbalance.
Ginseng: (Panax ginseng or Panax quinquefolius) Research has shown that ginseng may help with some menopausal symptoms, such as mood symptoms and sleep disturbances, and with one's overall sense of well-being. With its ginsenosides which are known to boost brain function and blood flow and phytoestrogens, ginseng is an important ally in the fight against menopause. These plant compounds have a similar molecular structure to estrogen, leading some to believe that they can help replace declining estrogen levels in menopausal women, thus relieving many of their symptoms.
Evening Primrose Oil: (Oenothera biennis) This botanical is promoted to relieve hot flashes.It is a source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that can help influence prostaglandin synthesis and help moderate menopausal symptoms.
Vitamin supplements which can be used to treat symptoms of menopause include bioflavonoids, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E.
Natures Source carries a wide variety of natural remedies to treat menopause and its symptoms. Our staff are able to offer excellent advise on this subject.