Herbs heal menopausal symptoms
If you and your doctor have decided hormone therapy is simply wrong for you -
physically or emotionally - then explore these alternative therapies that are,
after all, the source of many traditional medications.
Cool down with cohosh. If hot flashes and mood swings are
bothering you, black cohosh could be just the thing you need. Once called squaw
root, Native Americans used this plant for thousands of years to treat female
problems. The German equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration approved
black cohosh for menopause symptoms years ago. Today, doctors in Germany often
prescribe black cohosh to treat PMS symptoms as well as anxiety, mild
depression, and sweating in menopausal women. The plant has an estrogen-like
effect, and reduces levels of a hormone that causes hot flashes - although
relief could take four to six weeks. What's more, a recent German study found
that black cohosh taken twice a day may improve physical and emotional menopause
Hot flashes are a problem for breast cancer survivors, too, especially those on
tamoxifen. A recent study discovered that two months of daily black cohosh may
not help hot flashes in breast cancer survivors, but it might ease sweating.
Keep in mind that black cohosh may give some women a mild upset stomach. Large
doses may even cause nausea and dizziness. Until long-term safety studies can be
done, don't take black cohosh for more than six months.
You'll find it in capsules where supplements are sold. Try taking 40 milligrams
(mg) a day, but not for longer than six months.
Vanquish insomnia with valerian. A recent German study found that
valerian extract may relieve mild insomnia. In earlier studies, valerian users
reported that they got to sleep faster and slept better.
In the U.S., capsules containing 400 to 530 milligrams (mg) of whole ground
valerian root are generally taken 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. You may also
find capsules of a root extract, liquid extracts, and tinctures. If you prefer a
tea, use one teaspoon of dried root per cup.
While pregnancy probably is not a concern
if you're menopausal, remember that valerian is sometimes used to treat uterine
Stay dry with evening primrose oil. Studies have found that
evening primrose oil might reduce night sweats although it does not seem to
control hot flashes. No one knows whether it is safe to use for long periods, so
if you try this herb, just take it for a short time to see if it helps. Never
take evening primrose oil with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or
Rely on St. John. Hippocrates, of ancient Greece, recommended the
popular herb St. John's wort for menstrual problems. Over two thousand years
later, menopausal women still use it to feel better physically and sexually.
Best of all, it comes with very few side effects. Although you may have to stay
out of strong sun to avoid a rash, people rarely show allergic reactions.
Be sure the supplement you buy is a reputable brand and contains 0.3 percent
hypericin, the active ingredient. The usual dosage is 300 mg, three times daily.
Talk to your doctor about using St. John's wort for longer than a few weeks.
Don't single out dong quai. Dong quai is an ancient Chinese remedy
for feminine complaints. Yet a six-month study found that dong quai alone may
not help hot flashes or night sweats. Chinese herbalists argue that dong quai is
not supposed to work alone. They say it must be part of a combination of herbs
that must work together to be effective. Although herbal combinations are on the
market, none have been tested.
Dong quai may cause bleeding in some people, especially those taking warfarin.
It also makes your skin sensitive, so anyone using this herb should stay out of
Review red clover. A small Dutch study reported over 40 percent
fewer hot flashes with a daily red clover supplement containing 80 mg of
isoflavones. On the other hand, two small clinical trials in Australia found no
benefit from red clover. But red clover may affect more than just menopause
Some experts think red clover may lower the higher cardiovascular risk that
follows menopause. Although studies suggest red clover does not lower
cholesterol, it may help your blood vessels stretch more easily. No one knows
whether that means a lower risk of death from heart disease, but more flexible
arteries may shrink the risk of heart trouble.
Red clover contains several isoflavones
including genistein and daidzein. Initial research studies suggest that
genistein could be connected to breast cancer tumor growth, senility, brain
aging, and slowed thyroid activity. More research is needed to confirm or
disprove these findings.
The University of Pittsburgh Cancer
Institute recently discovered that red clover may also have high estrogenic
activity -- a possible risk for breast cancer. If your family history or
personal history includes breast cancer, don't try red clover.
Make sure you ask your doctor before
trying herbs. You'll enjoy herbal benefits even more when you know they're safe