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Easing menopause naturally

IF MENOPAUSE IS A NATURAL PHASE of womanhood, why not treat the symptoms the natural way? Although some healthcare providers recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as the standard treatment for menopause, there remains much controversy on the advantages and risks associated with the treatment.

If natural is the way you would like to go, here are seven alternatives that are tried and proven by many women around the world:

TAKE MORE GOOD BACTERIA: To help with metabolism and utilization of oestrogen during menopause, it is essential to have Lactobacillus and Bifidus (good bacteria) cultures in our intestines. Some believe these "good" bacteria help reduce the occurrence of yeast infections. You can find a good dose of these helpful bacteria in various nutritional formulas in the supermarket.

PUMP UP ON CERTAIN VITAMINS AND MINERALS: According to registered pharmacist Steven D. Ottariano in his book, Medicinal Herbal Therapy: A Pharmacist's Viewpoint, certain vitamins and minerals can be advantageous for menopausal women. These include:

Vitamin E (400-8001U daily) - helps reduce night sweats and hot flashes

Vitamin C (1,000-2,000mg daily) - aids in the absorption of vitamin E and decreases capillary fragility

Calcium citrate (1,500mg daily) - helps circulate lipid concentrations in postmenopausal women

Magnesium (500-750mg daily) - aids in the proper absorption of calcium

WATCH YOUR DIET: Women who are entering the menopausal phase have to monitor their fat intake, as due to the loss of oestrogen (a woman's natural heart protection) her risk of heart disease will go up. This is why every woman should limit her consumption of meats high in saturated fats such as beef and chicken as these meats might reduce the body's ability to metabolize oestrogen.

Also avoid foods high in caffeine and carbonated beverages which contain phosphorous and can elevate bone loss. Limit your intake of excessive sugary foods as these restrict your liver's ability to metabolize oestrogen and impairs the immune system.

Healthy foods include Soya which contains phytoestrogens. Grains, wheat, brown rice, almonds, cashews, oats, tofu, and fresh fruits and vegetables are also highly recommended for menopausal women.

GET PLENTY OF EXERCISE: This is probably the best way of addressing menopausal symptoms, and every other physical problem known to women. Regular exercise (at least three or four times a week) helps prevent osteoporosis, heart disease and reduce the risk of many types of cancer. It improves a woman's overall health and well-being throughout every phase of her life.

NATURAL PROGESTERONE AND OESTROGEN: Many women count on progesterone for effective menopausal symptom management. It is available in the market in compounded prescriptions. Some women prefer using a cream product over an oral form as the former method requires a lower dose (because it does not have to be metabolized by the liver). Furthermore, natural progesterone causes virtually no side effects. As for oestrogen compounds, there are three types available by prescription from pharmacists - Estrone, Estradiol and Estriol. Natural oestrogen compounds can contain a combination of these three kinds of oestrogen.

The most common formulation is called Tri-oestrogen made up of 10 per cent Estrone, 10 per cent Estradiol, and 80 per cent Estriol. A combination of two types of oestrogen compounds is called Bi-oestrogen.

RED CLOVER ISOFLAVONE: Red clover isoflavone supplements have been shown to have a significant positive effect on the rate of bone loss, boost cardiovascular health, and may offer protection against breast cancer. The findings is based on a research published in the September 2000 issue of the Journal of the British Menopause Society.

Further evidence suggests that red clover reduces the occurrence of hot flashes, one of the most common complaints of menopausal women.

BLACK COHOSH: In olden days, black cohosh was used by native Americans to treat gynaecologic symptoms. Europeans have also used the herb extract since the 19th Century. Its widespread use was based on observations that black cohosh successfully relieved menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, dizziness, fatigue and palpitations. Lately, clinical studies have shown that it has beneficial effects on our bones too.

The health-promoting properties of black cohosh have been extensively researched to demonstrate its safety and effectiveness. The extract is taken from the root to produce standardized black cohosh formulations. Women can now get the safe, clinically proven herbal supplement at any traditional food, drug or mass retail store.

When taken according to proper directions, the supplement has little or no side effects. Every woman should consult a doctor or a pharmacist before she begins black cohosh supplementation.

All menopausal women are different, and it may take some time for you to find the best form or combination of treatments to suit your needs. Again, a healthy lifestyle can make a real difference to how you feel and prevent some of the long-term effects of oestrogen deficiency (e.g. heart disease and osteoporosis).

Equally important too is having a positive outlook on life; to help you cope with the changes in your body.


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