Herbal Supplements for MenopauseA number of herbal supplements are on the market to help women deal with their menopause symptoms. Anxiety, depression, and hot flashes are among the most common symptoms of menopause and women are seeking alternatives to traditional medication in order to solve these problems. Some of the most common herbal and botanical supplements used during menopause include:
Black cohosh is a flowering plant that grows naturally in Eastern North America. It contains phytochemicals that are thought to relieve symptoms of menopause. Black cohosh is believed to contain phytoestrogens, specifically isoflavones, that bind to the estrogen receptors in your body.
These plant estrogens work very much like natural estrogen, helping to produce lubrication in your vagina, working to regulate temperature, and helping to strengthen bones. Black cohosh may work directly on your hypothalamus, which is located at the base of the brain. The hypothalamus regulates body temperature and hormone production, and may be the cause of many of the symptoms that come along with menopause
Benefits of Black Cohosh
Black cohosh is touted as a great reliever of many menopause symptoms including night sweats, anxiety, and depression. Effects of black cohosh include the reduction of those horrible hot flashes that affect so many menopausal women. It does this by reducing the lutenizing hormone in your body, which is associated with extreme temperature fluctuations. So, how effective is black cohosh? Well, in a recent study, 80% of women taking a black cohosh supplement experienced an improvement in their hot flashes, sweating, and heart palpitations.
How to Take Black Cohosh
Black cohosh is available in supplement form by a variety of different commercial companies. It may be taken up to two times a day for six months, but should not be taken for a longer period of time. Side effects of black cohosh include headaches and mild stomach upset. More seriously, it has also been linked with an increase in liver enzymes. There have been some cases of liver inflammation due to overuse of black cohosh.
Dong quai, or Chinese Angelica, is an herb native to China and is used commonly in Eastern medicine and cooking. Nicknamed the "female ginseng," dong quai is seen as one of the foremost herbs in treating symptoms of menopause. Dong quai contains phytoestrogens that bind to the estrogen receptors in our body, thereby increasing our levels of estrogen. This increased estrogen then works to reduce a variety of menopausal symptoms. Dong quai also contains Vitamins E, A, and B12.
Benefits of Dong Quai
Dong quai is thought to provide a number of benefits to menopausal women. In particular, dong quai dilates our blood vessels and thereby increases our blood flow. This helps to relieve hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Additionally, this herb aids in regulating the levels of estrogen in your body, which also assists in relieving menopause symptoms. Moreover, dong quai is a mild sedative that will help reduce mood swings and stress related to menopause.
In clinical studies, women taking dong quai reported a 25% decrease in the severity of their symptoms. Dong quai is also thought to help prevent a variety of illnesses associated with menopause, including heart disease.
How to Take Dong Quai
Dong quai is available in a variety of forms. The easiest way to take the herb is in pill form and the recommended dosage is between 400 and 600 mg daily. The dong quai root can also be steeped in water to create a tea. Dong quai is especially effective when used in combination with black cohosh.
The Maca root has been used for centuries in South America, both by indigenous people and by the Spanish. Combined with food, the maca root was thought to be an aphrodisiac and people today still eat it for its sexual benefits. The maca root, which looks much like a radish, is also excellent at reducing the frequency and intensity of menopausal symptoms.
The maca root does not contain plant estrogens but, instead, is an adaptogen that is, it helps to balance out our body's own existing hormone system and encourages the production of hormones. Maca root also contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron as well as Vitamins B1, B2, B12, C, and E.
Benefits of Maca Root
Maca root is highly beneficial to women entering menopause, because it encourages an increase and then a balance between estrogen and progesterone. This increase in estrogen helps especially to reduce hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Maca root also helps to increase libido, restoring sex drive that was lost during menopause. Maca root is also thought to help decrease the effects of memory loss and osteoporosis.
How to Take Maca Root
The daily recommended dose of maca root is around 900mg. Maca root can be taken in capsule form three times a day, preferably with meals, or it can be boiled and taken as a tea.
Red clover grows naturally in Europe and Asia and has been introduced into North America for grazing purposes. Also called cow clover, bee-bread, and purple clover, red clover is now being touted as a cure-all for menopause symptoms.
Red clover is one of the premium sources of phytoestrogens, plant estrogens that mimic the female sex hormone. These phytoestrogens help to increase the levels of estrogen in our bodies, thereby reducing menopausal symptoms. Red clover also contains many vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, and Vitamin C.
Benefits of Red Clover
Studies on red clover show that it does seem to reduce menopause symptoms of hot flashes and mood swings. In a recent study in the Netherlands, women taking a red clover supplement reported a 44% decrease in their hot flashes over 8 weeks. Red clover is also thought to be helpful in fighting osteoporosis. Because it contains high amounts of calcium, red clover may slow down or even prevent bone loss. Red clover also increases the amount of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" cholesterol, in the bloodstream. This has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease in menopausal women.
How to take Red Clover
Red clover is usually taken in capsule form. To treat menopause symptoms, the recommended dosage is between 400 and 500 mg.
Remember, herbal remedies can be quite potent so always consult a trained herbalist or holistic practioner before taking any supplements. Also, always follow the directions of whatever herbal supplement you decide to take.