Menopausal symptoms, primarily hot flashes, can be treated with vitamins, specific foods (soy), non-estrogenic herbs (which stimulate the body’s own estrogen levels) and phytoestrogenic herbs (natural non-hormonal agents that have estrogen like effects in the body).
Phytoestrogenic agents should not be used in women with breast cancer or other hormonally related cancers or women with blood clots. Women at high risk of getting hormone related cancers or blood clots should also not use phytoestrogens.
Food that may Relieve Menopausal Symptoms
Soy foods have isoflavins, compounds which binds to the estrogen receptor and relieve hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Tofu, soy milk, tempeh and soy nuts are good sources of soy.
Oh Not Again, Exercise Helps Menopause??
Regular exercise is a must for women experiencing fatigue, weight gain and hot flashes related to menopause. 30 minutes of walking five days a week is recommended.
Vitamins Useful to Menopausal Women
400 IU vitamin E may help hot flashes and night sweats. Vitamin C helps the absorption of vitamin E. B vitamins may help menopausal symptoms. Calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D are essential to prevent thinning of bones in menopausal women. Probiotics (good bacteria) such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacter species help with metabolism and utilization of estrogen and may help reduce vaginal yeast infections.
Ligans in flaxseed oil can stabilize hormone levels in menopausal women. Evening primrose oil or black currant oil are sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that treats menopausal symptoms.
Black cohosh (Cumicifuga racemosa) does not have estrogenic activity. Women who have gone through natural menopause rather than surgical menopause (hysterectomy) seem to respond better to this agent. Black cohosh molecules bind to receptors in the human body which regulate body temperature and hot flashes.
Black Cohosh also helps mood swings and sleep disturbances common in menopausal women. It is commonly taken in tablet form and is known to have the equivalent to 20 mg of root per tablet. Recent trials found that around 40 milligrams per day of such tablets lessened menopause symptoms in 70% of the women tested.
Black Cohosh may reduce weight gained as a result of hormone imbalance. During menopause, as estrogen levels drop, the body looks for other stores of estrogen. Fat cells contain large amounts of this hormone. The body begins to produce more fat cells as a way to boost estrogen levels. Black cohosh balances estrogen levels. It may, in turn, stop the production of fat cells.
Macafem root is a non-estrogenic herb grown in the Andean plateaus of Peru. It increases level of natural hormones in the body. Macafem can help hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, loss of libido and irregular periods.
Keishi-bukuryo-gan, a traditional formula made up of four herbs and a mushroom, is widely used in Japan for treatment of peri-menopausal hot flashes. A variant of it in the United States can be bought over the counter as H25. However, Keishi-bukuryo-gan has not been tested in women with hot flashes related to tamoxifen and other anti-estrogen medications. It is especially effective in women who always feel cold.
Ginkgo biloba boosts blood flow to the brain and improves concentration and cognitive function, which is important for menopausal women who often suffer from memory lapses. Ginkgo contains phytoestrogens (vegetable sources with a similar chemical structure to estrogen) which relace human hormones with plant substitutes. Because ginko is a phytoestrogen, it may increase the risk of breast cancer.
Dong quai helps painful menstrual periods and normalize irregular periods. It can increase risk of bleeding, so it should be used cautiously in women with heavy bleeding or on blood thinners. Dong quai is a phytoestrogen which may increase the risk of breast cancer
There are three common varieties of ginsing available: Native American, Korean and Chinese. They are phytoestrogens which have estrogen like effect in vagina and so they can help relieve vaginal dryness common in menopausal women. Korean ginseng is especially popular among athletes for improving performance and stamina. Ginseng is used to treat decreased libido common in menopausal women.
Red Clover (Trifolium Pratensei) is a phytoestrogen which contains the chemical compound called coumarins, which can thin blood. Use cautiously in women on blood thinners. Red Clover is used in China and Russia to treat upper respiratory illnesses. Ancient Romans and Greeks wore clover on their chest for good luck and as a way to ward off evil. Four leaf clovers felt to be especially lucky.
Last Updated by Dr. Vee on February 18, 2011