Many women, as they begin to experience the changes that come along with menopause, worry about how to treat these effects if they become serious or very uncomfortable. While using hormone replacement therapy is still safe in many circumstances, especially right when menopause is starting, a lot of women would rather avoid it, believing the risks are still too great. One possible alternative, or at least something to try first, is to treat the symptoms of menopause in a natural, or naturopathic, way.
Lifestyle modifications should be your first approach. They involve no risk, but require a great deal of discipline, self control and willpower. Work to make the life you lead as healthy as possible in every way. This includes eating as healthy as possible, getting plenty of exercise and finding productive outlets to reduce the stress in your life. If you are a smoker and/or drinker you should think about quitting.
If you don’t get enough exercise then find ways to add more physical activity into your daily routine. This does not mean that you have to start working out at the gym. It may involve taking a longer walk than usual (or walking twice a day instead of once) or the like. It is also important to find ways to calm the body and the mind. Practice yoga, meditation and/or deep breathing in order to accomplish this.
When it comes to hormone replacement, naturopaths believe it’s possible to achieve the same effects using natural foods, without resorting to medications. Soy beans contain phytoestrogens, which have an estrogen-like effect in the body. Naturopaths do warn, however, that some of the necessary phytoestrogens are removed if the food is processed, so be sure to read labels carefully to make sure it contains isoflavones. However, it’s possible to have too much soy, so trade it off regularly with other foods that contain phytoestrogens, such as flax seed. If a woman takes 2-4 tablespoons of ground flax seeds per day (that’s flax seeds, not flax seed oil), she should have enough to provide the phytoestrogens she needs. She would need to drink extra water, though, since ground flaxseeds absorb water from the body.
Certain herbs have also been shown to be effective at reducing the symptoms of menopause. For example, black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is an herb that belongs to the buttercup family which can relieve many symptoms of menopause such as anxiety, mood swings, night sweats, sleep disturbances, irritability, anxiety and nervousness. However, the symptom it works the best to relieve is hot flashes. Most women can take black cohosh as side effects are not common with this herb. In rare incidences it can cause nausea and vomiting, as well as stomach upset, headaches and dizziness.
Other naturopathic remedies that can provide relief during menopause are: St. John’s wort for anxiety, depression and mood swings; Damiana for stress, fatigue and mild anxiety; Vitamin B complex for fatigue, depression and mood swings; vitamin E for dry skin, weak and dry hair; iron and a multivitamin for exhaustion and fatigue; essential fatty acids, selenium and zinc for dry skin and dry weakened hair; Saw palmetto for personal dryness; valerian for insomnia, mild anxiety and nervousness; and calcium, vitamin D, copper, magnesium, manganese and zinc to decrease the risk of osteoporosis. Always check with your physician before taking any kind of supplement to be sure it won’t interfere with any medications you’re currently taking.
Menopause symptoms are caused by decreased production of estrogen and progesterone in a woman’s body. This change in hormone levels is what causes menopause symptoms and mood swings. Click here to learn about the various approaches to menopause symptom relief that will help ease your discomfort.