For natural menopause symptom relief, try herbs such as black cohosh and chasteberry.
Canadian women are reaching menopause in record numbers; it is estimated that by 2026 a quarter of our population will be women over 51!
Menopause is a natural process that involves hormonal changes that signify the end of ovulation and thus menstruation. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone gradually decline, and imbalances between them can lead to a long list of possible symptoms (see sidebar).
Medical practitioners, in the past, have prescribed synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT); however, recent research from the Women’s Health Initiative has linked longer-term use of synthetic HRT with health risks, leaving many women looking for safer alternatives.
These strategies may help to minimize menopausal symptoms:
- regular exercise
- reduction in caffeine and alcohol intake
- daily relaxation activities such as yoga or meditation
Supplementing with these nutrients has the potential to improve occurrences of depression, bloating, and breast tenderness:
- evening primrose oil
- vitamin B6
- calcium and magnesium
Isoflavones found in red clover and soy have shown some promise in helping to relieve symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and joint pain (though research results have
Some common symptoms
Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
A herb that is often indicated for menopause, black cohosh has been shown in several studies to be associated with an improvement in hot flashes and night sweats. However, caution is recommended, due to some isolated reports of negative effects on the liver. As with all medications, a health care practitioner should be consulted when considering this herb.
Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus)
This herb has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of mood swings, anger, irritability, breast tenderness, and headaches. Recommended doses should be adhered to, as this herb is more effective at moderate doses.
A key goal when treating menopause with herbs is support of the liver and adrenals, as this helps the body to balance and modulate declining hormones. Although little recent research exists on these traditionally used herbs, they have been used for centuries for their liver-supporting and tonifying benefits:
- dong quai (Angelica sinensis)
- peony (Paeonia lactiflora)
- Chinese yam (Dioscorea opposite)
Green tea has also shown some promising positive effects, so pour a cup, prop your feet up, and relax, secure in the knowledge that there are many natural remedies that can help to ease the journey through this natural female rite of passage!