Everything in nature changes with the seasons, and the human body is no different.
For a woman, one of the biggest natural changes in life is menopause. In physical terms, this means that the same set of hormones that came into play in a big way with the first menstruation begins to ebb with the last period.
When Multi-Taskers Retire
While the myriad functions performed by different hormones in the human body are still being understood, it is clear that no hormone does just one thing in the human body.
Let’s take just one hormone and understand it a little better.
Estrogens, the family of hormones that plays the lead role in the onset of periods and reproduction in a woman’s life, also does so much more. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “In addition to regulating the menstrual cycle, estrogen affects the reproductive tract, the urinary tract, the heart and blood vessels, bones, breasts, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pelvic muscles, and the brain.”
Take a moment, and go through the above list of body parts affected by estrogen again. Only this time, remember that estrogen levels begin to fall in women during menopause.
When Atlas Shrugs
Now go through the list below of some of the most common symptoms of menopause as listed by women:
- Hot flashes and night sweats (skin and blood vessels)
- Mood swings (the brain)
- Vaginal dryness, loss of libido (reproductive tract)
- Dry skin and hair (skin, hair, mucous membranes)
- Urinary incontinence, especially upon sneezing, etc. (pelvic muscles)
- Breast tenderness (breasts)
- Greater risk of osteoporosis (bones)
- Dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus (heart, blood vessels, brain)
You’re connecting the dots now, right?
And that’s just 1 group of hormones, called estrogens. As with most chemicals in the human body, estrogen maintains a delicate, harmonious balance with several other hormones in the body—progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and testosterone, just to name a few. Each of these either rises or falls in response to changes in estrogen levels, and that then has its own set of consequences upon your health and mood. It’s little wonder that menopause has such system-wide effects.
Herbal And Natural Supplements For Menopause
For thousands of years, traditional societies have evolved ways to help people deal with critical life changes like the start of puberty and menopause (and andropause for men).
Using food and herbal supplements, you can manage this life-changing event of menopause with ease. Please remember: as with all herbal supplements, they are often what prescription medicines evolved from, so they have strong effects. Always consult your doctor before taking them, especially if you are on other medication or hormones.
Among the most studied herbs to help treat menopausal symptoms, this native North American plant belongs to the buttercup family. Its roots are used in preparing the extracts. Thanks to its natural phytoestrogens, it can have “estrogen-like” effects and bring down hot flashes, mood swings, etc.
- What seems to work for many: 20–80 mg of extract a day.
It mimics the action of estrogens in the body, and so is able to alleviate many of the nasty symptoms of menopause. Women have used vitamin E creams successfully to combat vaginal dryness. Seek out the more natural form of vitamin E, alpha tocopherol, instead of the synthetic “dl-alpha” form.
- What seems to work for many: 400–800 IU per day.
This potent high-altitude Thai herb has been documented for help with menopausal symptoms for at least 700 years! In several clinical trials, this “miroestrol”-containing herb has been proven to be as effective as estrogen replacement therapy. In fact, it is due to this level of strength that it must be used with proper medical advice and with caution.
- What seems to work for many: 20–50 mg in the morning.
Literally translating to “She who possesses 100 husbands,” this Ayurvedic herb’s name alludes to its ability to boost all the female hormones and keep a woman young for longer during her life. It not only enhances estrogen but has also been proven to reduce osteoporosis in menopausal women—both in those who attained menopause naturally and in those with hysterectomy performed. Treated as a tonic in Ayurveda, its benefits on hormonal health are seen through the entire life of the woman, from puberty to menopause and after.
- What seems to work for many: 250 mg of extract twice a day
This grassland flower was discovered to have “phytoestrogens” (or plant estrogens), which can cause sheep to have fertility issues if they graze on it! This same property gives it the ability to help women with menopausal symptoms.
- What seems to work for many: 40–80mg of the pure isoflavone
During menopause, the adrenal glands, which normally help us fight stress, are busy producing the estrogen that has gone missing. So when we supplement with B vitamins, these stress busters support the adrenals to ensure that anxiety and irritability is kept low. If you are on a hormone replacement therapy (HRT) program, you will most likely have a B insufficiency, so it’s important you take a B complex every day.
- What seems to work for many: B complex that contains 50 mg of thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), 50mg each of PABA, choline, and inositol; 50 mcg of B12; and 400 mcg of folic acid
Once you hit menopause, loss of bone strength becomes a reality. To counter this, boost the much-needed calcium levels in your system. And since the body cannot absorb calcium if there’s not enough vitamin D going around, take these 2 supplements together.
- What seems to work for many: calcium: 1,000 mg for women under 51; 1,200 mg for women over 51; and vitamin D3: 600–800 IU daily
St John’s Wort
The Greeks swore by it to get their menopausal women in a good mood! It lowers anxiety levels and increases sexual well-being too. Add its work on symptoms of menopause like hot flashes and night sweats, and you have an herb that’s hard to beat. Please bear in mind: St John’s Wort may reduce the effectiveness of heart disease medicines and hormonal contraceptives, so check with your doctor if you’re on these.
- What seems to work for many: 300 mg 3 times a day
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Estrogens are a woman’s natural defense against inflammation. Little wonder then that when these go down, inflammatory processes result in symptoms like thinning hair and skin, vaginal dryness, and even, osteoporosis. Omega-3 fats have the anti-inflammatory properties to put out this “dry fire.”
- What seems to work for many: 500 mg of EPA 3 times a day for 8 weeks.
With these miracle workers from nature on your side, you can look forward to starting a new chapter in life with all the confidence in the world.
Embrace the change, and embrace your womanhood!