Menopause is a natural stage in every woman’s life. But are natural remedies any good at treating some of the more annoying symptoms of this life stage?
Women concerned about adverse health effects in taking prescription hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may consider natural therapies to reduce common menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and fatigue.
Relaxation techniques can be used to relieve problems with falling asleep or waking in the middle of the night, according to OB/GYN physician Cheryl Deets, M.D., Marshfield Clinic Marshfield Center.
“Common sense tips like dressing in layers and avoiding caffeine and spicy foods are good ways to ward off hot flashes,” she said. “For a sleep aid, over-the-counter medications Tylenol P.M.® or Unisom work well for most women.”
Certain herbal remedies, food and lifestyle changes have been used successfully by some women. However, no studies have shown conclusively that herbal remedies work for most women. “I give my female patients options to consider,” said Dr. Deets. But I don’t suggest too many of the herbal remedies due to side effects.”
Black cohash, derived from a plant in the buttercup family, has been used to lessen the most common menopause complaint – hot flashes and night sweats. However, it’s not recommended for women with liver problems.
Soy, found in foods such as tofu, soymilk and soy nuts, is another natural remedy for hot flashes. Both contain phytoestrogens, which may act like the estrogen in your body to help temper hot flashes. Women with a history of breast cancer should check with their provider before using soy to relieve menopause symptoms.
St. John’s wart, a common herbal remedy used to treat depression, may be beneficial to lessen mood swings, particularly when combined with black cohash.
One of the best elixers for overall women’s health and well-being is exercise – at least three or four days a week,” said Dr. Deets. “It helps prevent and reduce bone loss, plays a key role in reducing cancer risk and lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol,” she noted. “With heart disease the No. 1 killer of women, it’s imperative that women carve out time in their daily routine to exercise.”
Important to note: Herbal supplements are not FDA approved, can interact with certain medications and should be stopped at least two weeks before any planned surgery. Talk to your doctor before taking any natural/herbal supplements.