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Natural treatments for the menopause

Updated on September 9, 2013

Menopause symptoms and treatments

I gave a talk yesterday on the menopause and it is clear more information is needed on the menopause, and we are still a bit reluctant to talk about it.

A lot of women are still very worried about the menopause however armed with information and knowledge this transitional part of a woman’s life can be made easier.

With that in mind I though I would put together a hub and hopefully provide some useful information on the menopause.

The menopause is a time in a woman’s life when her fertility draws to a close.

The menopause is dated to your last period which normally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. The symptoms you experience can occur anything from five up to 10 years before your last period. This is called the perimenopause.

The perimenopause starts to occur when the ovaries begin to run out of eggs and female hormone levels, oestrogen and progesterone, start to decline.

Menopause symptoms

Menopause symptoms are different for every woman as some women adjust to falling hormone levels better than others.

Some women go through the menopause with relatively few problems but for some women this is a very difficult period in their lives.

Common menopause symptoms

Hot flushes also some called hot flashes – you get very hot and start to perspire more than normal. When this occurs at night it can be very uncomfortable and can lead to problems with sleep.

Night sweats – night sweats are a symptom of the hot flushes – hot flashes.One lady I spoke to recently suffers so much she has to get up and take a shower, and change the sheets.

Vaginal dryness – a problem for many women as the hormone levels fall.It is important to talk to your partner about this and consider using some extra lubrication.

Difficulty sleeping – this is also due to hormonal changes and a very common problem.Taking sleeping tablets may help but a lot of ladies have told me that this seems to make the other problems worse.

Tiredness – if you are not sleeping you will be tired but this is also a lack of the hormones which help your body produce energy.

Palpitations – you might find your heart seems to race and visits to the hospital by women going through the menopause believing they are experiencing a cardiac problem is not on unusual.

Pins and needless – your circulation is reduced during menopause and this can lead to pins and needles. This can also be a result of your nervous system being under stress.

Sensation of difficult of breathing – a lot of ladies do complain about this. Consider changing your exercise routine to something gentle as your body is going through an awful lot of change during the menopause.

Joint pain – this is one to watch out. Hormonal changes can lead to problems with inflammatory disease but it can also be a sign of bone mass loss , osteoporosis.

Urinary stress incontinence – another hormonal effect.

Most women I speak to however are more concerned and baffled about the emotional

symptoms than the physical ones.

Emotional symptoms of menopause can include

Low sex drive, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, inability to cope, panic attacks,loss of self esteem, panic attacks, anxiety, depression for no reason, mood swings and irritability. They are all very unpleasant and difficult to deal with but there is a very serious side to menopause which is seems to be a little bit forgotten.

Lack of oestrogen

Lack of oestrogen can cause osteoporosis however most women are quite familiar with this problem.

More seriously falling oestrogen levels cause problems with circulation and the heart, and this is what we don’t talk about. As the oestrogen level falls in your body you may find your LDL cholesterol level shot up, and you have a problem with your blood fats (triglycerides).

Both problems are serious and need to be dealt with as they can lead to heart attacks, heart failure, furred up arteries and poor circulation which makes the problem with osteoporosis worse. I always say to women who are going through the menopause to check their cholesterol and blood fat level as this is crucial to keeping yourself healthy during menopause.

Healthy ideas for the menopause and natural remedies for menopause

Yes I know your family doctor will recommend HRT but many women are concerned and you can indeed manage the menopause without HRT.

HRT does replace oestrogen levels but there are many concerns about side effects. During my talk this week I realised a lot of women distrust their doctors, and feel they cannot discuss their concerns about HRT and falling oestrogen levels.

On the positive side there are a number of easy lifestyle changes that can help,and best news of all oestrogen like plant hormones are found in many plants. Natural remedies for the menopause are good effective alternatives. They are weaker than human oestrogen however they are still a good support and boost to your body’s hormone levels.

The most common natural treatments are based on isoflavones, flavonoids and lignans.

Food for the menopause

Beans – soy beans and soy products are great – just stay away from the genetically modified products. Also ad chick peas, lentils, alfa alfa and mung beans.

Vegetables – dark green vegetables ( broccoli and spinach), celery and fennel.

Seeds – flaxseed, pumpkin seeds are full of lignans.

Nuts – consider using nut oils and fresh nuts such as walnuts, peanuts (the butter is fine)and hazelnuts.

Wholegrains - millet, rye, buckwheat and especially corn.

Fresh fruit – mangoes, papayas, apples and avocados.

Dried fruits – figs, prunes and dates

The following herbs are useful as well; angelica, chervil, garlic, ginger, parsley, rosemary and sage.

Eat more oily fish to get those vital Omega 3 essential fatty acids, or take a fish oil supplement. Make sure you reduce your intake of saturated fats, boost your calcium with healthy milk products and take any excess sugar and salt out of your diet. Remember less alcohol can have a positive effect as well.

Vitamins, herbal and natural remedies for the menopause

One of these suggestions may work for you or you may have to try a combination as we all have different requirements, and our bodies are unique. Omega 3 fish oils – this is a really important supplement as it supports the heart and circulation. All major heart associations throughout the world recommend this supplement for heart health.

Folic acid – maintains a healthy heart and lowers homocysteine levels.

Cranberry – cystitis is common during the menopause and cranberries contain anti-adhesins which stops bacteria sticking to cells which line the urinary tract.

5-HTP – helps to make serotonin in the brain which is vital for sleep and a good mood.

St Johns Wort – lifts the mood and helps to overcome low sex drive. Do not use if you are taking HRT or medication for depression.

Rhodiola – reduces stress and boosts energy levels

Calcium, vitamin D and magnesium supplements – improves bone density and can help to reduce fractures.

Evening primrose Oil – good source for GLA which is an essential fatty acids. GLA provides the building blocks for making sex hormones, can reduce breast pain.Do not use in combination with HRT or take if you have suffered breast cancer. If you are receiving treatment for breast cancer such as Tamoxifen you should not take this supplement.

Siberian Ginseng – helps the body to adapt to physical and emotional stress.You should not use Siberian Ginseng if you have high blood pressure.

Sage leaf extracts – this helps a lot of women with the hot flushes and can improve memory

Black cohosh – also for hot flushes, vaginal dryness, anxiety and depression.

Isoflavones – reduces hot flushes and has beneficial effects on circulation and evidence.There is now a lot of evidence that isoflavones help to protect against breast cancer.

Menopause hot flushes or menopause hot flashes

Whatever you decide to call them they are unpleasant and make you feel really bad. Try some of these tips to deal with menopause hot flushes/ hot flashes:

Loose excess weight as you sweat less

Wear several levels of clothing which you can peel off when feeling hot

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration

Keep a fan by your bedside at night

Try to avoid coffee and spicy foods as these can trigger the hot flushes

MY TOP TIP

If you smoke try to stop. All women I know who stopped smoking during the menopause felt so much better and it definitely helps the hot flushes.

Avoid excess stress as this makes you feel hot.

It is a good idea to really look after yourself during menopause by having massages, collagen based facials, acupuncture, and walking and yoga seem to be the best ideas for exercise.

Listen to your body and remember this is natural time in your life and you will get through it.

Lignans and Homocysteine

Lignans – what are they

Lignans are strong antioxidants and phytoestrogens found in plants such as flax seeds, pumpkins seeds, broccoli and soy beans. The richest source is flax seeds.

They are the first line of defense against free radicals which damages healthy tissue.

A lot of research is going on into lignans at the moment as they could be a vital weapon against cancer.

Homocysteine

Homocysteine is an amino acid. An elevated homocysteine level is associated with

heart attacks, clogged up arteries and heart failure.

There is a blood test available for homocysteine, and you can reduce your level by

eating less red meat.

Taking a supplement of Folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin b12 helps to lower your

Homocysteine level.

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