For some women, menopause is welcome transition that signals the end of their reproductive years. But for others, menopause is the beginning of a time marked by physical discomfort, psychological stress and emotional upheaval. If you’re one of the millions of North American women struggling through this change of life, ask your doctor about including one or more of these natural herbal menopause remedies to your regimen.
Common Symptoms of Menopause
In a 2007 study published in the journal Alternative Therapies, menopausal women were asked about their symptoms. Over 80% reported struggling with hot flashes and over 50% experienced mood swings and/or night sweats. Nearly a third of women with menopause experienced trouble sleeping and nearly a quarter reported unexpected weight gain. Fatigue, memory problems, irritability and vaginal dryness are also common symptoms of menopause.
Herbal Remedies for Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are not only extremely common symptoms of menopause; they’re also among women’s greatest concerns. So it’s not surprising that women are increasingly turning to herbal remedies for help. And a number of herbal remedies are standing up quite nicely to scientific scrutiny. A 2002 review of herbal menopause remedies found the popular herb black cohosh and foods made with soy potentially helpful to women experiencing hot flashes.
On the other hand, this study found evening primrose, dong quai and red clover ineffective at relieving hot flashes.
Reducing Hot Flashes with Rhubarb?
A more recent study, this one from Germany, offers even more hope. An extract made from rhubarb, a product known as ERr 731, has repeatedly proved itself a safe, natural herbal remedy for hot flashes. Not widely available in the U.S., ERr 731 not only significantly reduced hot flashes in only 12 weeks; it also reduced anxiety in the vast majority of women tested.
The Role of Soy as an Herbal Remedy for Hot Flashes
In the body, soy fights hot flashes mainly through its phytoestrogen content. Phytoestogens are plant-made hormones that mimic the effect of human hormones in the body. The use of phytoestrogen-rich foods to fight hot flashes is controversial and the studies looking at these natural herbal remedies have produced conflicting results. But one study, this one published in 2007, found regular, daily consumption of soy nuts a safe, effective way to reduce hot flashes in at least some women.
Asking Your Doctor about Herbal Remedies for Hot Flashes
The Alternative Therapies study found that nearly half of all women felt comfortable purchasing and using over-the-counter herbal remedies for menopause. That’s the good news. The bad news is that fewer than 20% discussed herbal remedies for menopause with their doctors.
If you have any questions about the various natural or herbal remedies for menopause, talk to your doctor. Only he or she is qualified to give you medical advice and today’s doctors know more than ever about the safety and efficacy of natural, herbal menopause remedies.
Singh, B., Liu, X., Der-Martirosian, C., Hardy, M., Singh, V., et al. (2007). Menopausal Issues: A National Probability Sample of US Women.
Kronenberg, F., Fugh-Berman, A. (2002). Complementary and alternative medicine for menopausal symptoms: a review of randomized, controlled trials.
Kaszkin-Bettag, M., Ventskovskiy, B., Kravechenko, A., et al. (2007). The special extract ERr 731 of the roots of Rheum rhaponticum decreases anxiety and improves health state and general well-being in perimenopausal women.
Welty, F., Lee, K., Lew, N., Nasca, M., Zhou, J. (2007). The association between soy nut consumption and decreased menopausal symptoms.