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A woman’s reproductive life—puberty, pregnancies and then menopause—is orchestrated by her hormones, and is quite literally, a biologically ordained journey. It is a transition that any woman in her middle years is familiar with. Menopause marks the end of the childbearing phase.
Each phase of a woman’s life – from puberty to menopause and after – is characterized by various ups and downs. Naturally, the last phase—menopause—also comes with its share of systemic and emotional adjustments for women. Menopause is the stage when the natural production of estrogen starts declining, and this results in some physiological and emotional problems for women. Estrogen is important not only for reproductive and menstrual cycles, but also has a role to play in keeping bone and skin health in great shape.
The emotional roller coaster that women get on during these years is certainly no laughing matter, and neither is the plethora of physical changes that go with it.
These are all signs and symptoms of menopause. Quite frustratingly, this stage can stretch from anywhere between 2–10 years in a woman’s life. It is quite likely that women can suffer from any and all of the symptoms listed above. However, you can get help from herbal supplements to get through them all, with a smile on your lips.
Foremost on the list of supplements that work is Pueraria mirifica. This is a Thai plant that goes by the local name of White Kwao Krua. This is NOT to be confused with Red Kwao Krua (extract of Butea superba), and another related species, Pueraria lobata, also known as Kudzu, each of which has different health benefits. In traditional Thai medicine, Pueraria mirifica is prescribed for rejuvenative properties and this herb specifically helps with a range of menopausal symptoms.
Plants can produce estrogen that is very similar to natural estrogen hormones produced by women. These estrogen-mimics are collectively identified as ‘phytoestrogens.’ Pueraria mirifica is a rich source of such phytoestrogens. At least 17 different phytoestrogens have been identified from this plant alone.These phytoestrogens can help to maintain enough estrogen levels to gain relief from symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Phytoestrogens are not to be confused with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which is administered using synthetic estrogen in regulated doses.
Pueraria mirifica has been investigated using modern research techniques as well. This herbal supplement was given to menopausal women in dosages of 25 mg and 50 mg daily, for 6 months. The changes that were reported by participants were assessed using a modified Greene climacteric scale, along with a physical examination by doctors (The Greene climacteric scale is a tool used for data collection and evaluation. A score of 15 or above on this scale is considered a state of estrogen deficiency). Women who received the 50 mg daily dosage had a mean Greene score of 12 at the end of 6 months. Likewise, women who received a 25 mg daily dosage had a mean Greene score of 14 by the end of 6 months. The supplement had no side effects at both dosages.
This plant extract has also been tested for its effect on vaginal dryness. This symptom, which essentially causes itchiness, is reduced considerably by White Kwao Krua extracts at dosages ranging from 20–50 mg daily. Hot flashes and night sweats can also be effectively reduced by Pueraria mirifica supplements at similar dosages.
Obesity is the unwanted best friend of menopause. The reduction in metabolic drive coupled with lifestyle factors and lack of estrogen often leads to weight gain in this phase. Even if we lay aside the aesthetic aspects of obesity, the fact that obesity can lead to a bad lipid profile and set the stage for heart disease cannot be ignored. Pueraria mirifica works its magic in this area as well. Studies have shown that Pueraria mirifica supplements can help maintain a good ratio between HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol).
A dose of 25-50mg once a day of this herb is recommended for women with menopause. In a study among perimenopausal women, a 50mg dose alleviated symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats similar to that of an estrogen.
All in all, Pueraria mirifica supplements help maintain health and wellness during menopause. If you find yourself experiencing any or all the symptoms of menopause, talk to your doctor about trying Pueraria mirifica. We will keep you posted whenever further research emerges about this wonder herb from Thailand. Till then, explore Pueraria and other gentle ways to help you cope with menopause using dietary supplements.