Herb for menopause symptoms

4 Top Herbs for Menopause Support (and Other Forms of Natural Relief)

Dr. Laurie Steelsmith July 19, 2017 Herbs Email Print Twitter Pinterest Facebook

We all know the basics of staving off the symptoms of menopause: Eat a healthy, plant-based diet, sweat on a regular basis, get adequate sleep and cope with stress constructively.

But what happens when our most virtuous endeavors to maintain our health (and keep those vexing discomforts at bay) don’t seem to make much of a difference in term of hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain, vaginal dryness—and moods that can swing faster and just as violently as a teenager’s?

While some who find themselves in this position may search for support in medical therapy, more and more women are finding relief from discomforts from alternative sources—37.4% of females, in fact, the National Institutes of Health reports.

And it’s no wonder. Herbal remedies for menopause—though not entirely infallible—can help ease the transition into menopause wherein reproductive hormones decline and menstruation ceases.

Considering a natural approach for relief for menopause discomforts? Here are four of the top herbal forms of assistance—and five ways to combat the big M’s discomforts organically:

1. Chaste tree berry

Dubbed by some as the “female-friendly fruit,” chaste tree berry—a small brown berry that’s been used by humans for over two centuries—can be a boon for women who are hitting or are in the midst of one of life’s biggest changes. Thought to operate by supporting women’s reproductive health, chaste tree berry has been well studied for its ability to relieve discomforts associated with the menstrual cycle.†

Bonus tip: Sex drive stuck in neutral—or worse? Consider adding basil to your next dish. According to Healthline, it provokes the senses (and not just in terms of smell and taste).

2. Black cohosh

Hot flashes are inarguably one of the most exasperating parts of menopause. Fortunately, from a naturopath’s perspective, there are myriad things a woman can do to thwart these “power surges”—and one of the most well known is to try a black cohosh supplement. Called “fairy candle” and “black snakeroot” by some, this North American plant may help support a woman’s body during natural transitional hormonal states.†

Bonus tip: Fill your plate with summery foods such as watermelon, tomatoes, seaweed, tofu, spinach and apples. Traditional Chinese medicine deems this eats “cooling foods” because of their natural ability to cool the body. Likewise, consuming foods and beverages that are considered “warming” or “hot” in Chinese medicine can aggravate menopausal symptoms, and include onions, pumpkin, cauliflower, glutinous rice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, coffee and alcohol.

3. Bupleurum (and other Chinese herbs)

Closely associated with the liver, bupleurum has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for more than 2,000 years because it’s believed to support the flow of “qi” and help diminish heat in the liver. For menopausal women, it has the potential to naturally encourage a better frame of mind—a windfall during a life transition that’s marked by anger and frustration.†

Bonus tip: Bust out those kettlebells and running shoes—regular exercise is vital to keeping the mood swings that may arrive with menopause at a minimum. (Hello, endorphins.) Regular physical activity also improves sleep, and a Swedish study found that it decreases hot flashes and reduces night sweats in menopausal women.

4. Red clover

During menopause, a woman’s estrogen levels dip—thus leading to a litany of complaints that can range from those aforementioned hot flashes to headaches and a general state of malaise. In recent years, red clover has begun to receive increased attention, in that the plant contains isoflavones (plant-derived compounds that mimic estrogenic activity) that may organically support women’s health during menopause.†

Bonus tip: Halt the noise. The National Institutes of Health confirms what we already know—that noise (from construction, gardening, traffic, kids, ringing phones, blaring TVs and good, old-fashioned life) can trigger headaches. Silence your phone, declare it a television-free weekend and seek out serenity in nature.

In the quiet, you may come to know that the best relief for menopause comes with mental strength: “Mental attitude has a lot to do with how well a woman adjusts to menopause,” Dr. Weil reminds us. “If it is seen as a tragic end to youth, fertility and sexuality, it can cause significant disruptions in one’s day-to-day life, and create the temptation to “solve” the problem with unproven menopause treatments such as therapies that promise eternal youth. If menopause is seen as simply the natural transition to the next phase of life, it can be readily accepted and more easily handled.”

†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Dr. Laurie Steelsmith

Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health. She is the co-author of Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine and co-author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness. Visit her website at www.DrSteelsmith.com.

Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health. She is the co-author of Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine and co-author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness. Visit her website at www.DrSteelsmith.com.

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Menopause Symptoms And Treatments

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Once women reach the menopause years, typically around the age of 50, a variety of physiological changes and menopause symptoms can occur and may have a profound impact on their lives. Menopause is a term that refers to the end of menstruation, the result of the natural decline in the hormones (estrogen, progesterone and others) produced in the ovaries. After years of preparing and releasing eggs, the ovaries eventually reach a point where they end their monthly routine. As hormone levels decrease, a number of symptoms of menopause may emerge, although their presentation and severity varies greatly from woman to woman. The most common menopause symptoms are hot flashes, depression, insomnia, vaginal dryness, irritability, mood swings and headaches.

Most women report that they experience menopause symptoms such as hot flashes during pre- and perimenopause. Hot flashes typically begin to occur when women start to have irregular periods, and usually end one or two years after menstruation has ceased. Sometimes women will experience flushing or warmth in their faces and upper bodies, others might actually have sweating and chills. Hot flashes can occur at any time of day or night. While it is not entirely clear what causes hot flashes, some researchers suggest it might have to do with mixed signals from the hypothalamus, a region in the brain that regulates body temperature and sex hormones. The hypothalamus may be reacting to decreasing levels of estrogen, and this may explain why hot flashes cease when estrogen replacement is given.

There are two tests that your doctor can perform that will determine if a woman is “officially” in menopause. One is to test the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level. This hormone increases significantly after the ovaries shut down. Another procedure is to take a Pap-like smear from the vaginal walls and check for any thinning and drying out of the vagina.

Suggested Lifestyle Changes for Menopause Symptoms

Mental attitude has a lot to do with how well a woman adjusts to menopause. If it is seen as a tragic end to youth, fertility and sexuality, it can cause significant disruptions in one’s day-to-day life, and create the temptation to “solve” the problem with unproven menopause treatments such as therapies that promise eternal youth. If menopause is seen as simply the natural transition to the next phase of life, it can be readily accepted and more easily handled. The risks and benefits of estrogen replacement therapy should be carefully considered, and many women do quite well without any medical intervention for menopause treatment. Following an anti-inflammatory diet, getting adequate aerobic exercise, and relaxation practices can help address the many practical problems that menopause can bring. Menopause is not a disease, and there is no reason for it to decrease interest in or enjoyment of sex. Vaginal dryness can make intercourse more difficult, however, and an over-the-counter product such as Replens Vaginal Lotion, as well as lubricants such as Astroglide can help. Your doctor can also prescribe a topical estrogen cream which will restore normal vaginal tissue.

Nutrition, Supplements & Herbs For Menopause

Try the following natural remedies and menopause treatments, including herbs:

  • Soy foods. The isoflavones in soy foods help balance hormone levels and have some estrogenic activity. There is ongoing research about the safety and efficacy of isolated soy isoflavone supplements. While the initial results look promising, we currently recommend using natural soy foods rather than supplements. Choose from tofu, soy milk, roasted soy nuts or tempeh.
  • Flaxseed. Substances called lignins in flaxseed are important modulators of hormone metabolism. Grind flaxseed daily in a coffee grinder at home and use 1 to 2 tablespoons a day.
  • Dong quai. Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is known both in China and the West for its ability to support and maintain the natural balance of female hormones. It does not have estrogenic activity. This is one of the herbs for menopause that should not be taken if a woman is experiencing heavy bleeding.
  • Black cohosh (Cumicifuga racemosa). One of the best-studied traditional herbs for menopause, black cohosh is used to help alleviate some symptoms of menopause, and is considered an effective hot flash remedy. Black cohosh seems to work by supporting and maintaining hormonal levels, which may lessen the severity of hot flashes. Many women report that the herb works well but it isn’t effective for everyone. While any therapy that influences hormonal actions should be a concern, black cohosh does not appear to have estrogenic activity and thus may be safe for women with a personal or family history of breast cancer.
  • Vitamin E. A daily dose of 400 IUs of natural vitamin E (as mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols) can help alleviate symptoms of hot flashes in some menopausal women.
  • B vitamins. This group of water-soluble vitamins may help women deal with the stress of menopausal symptoms.
  • Evening primrose oil or black currant oil. These are sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that can help influence prostaglandin synthesis and help moderate menopausal symptoms.

Read more of Dr. Weil’s articles and advice for more information on menopause symptoms.

Six natural remedies for menopause

Many women choose to tackle their menopause symptoms naturally – but where do you start? Discover some alternative menopause remedies, plus the evidence behind them

Written by Rosalind Ryan on January 21, 2019
Reviewed by Gabriella Clarke on January 22, 2019

The menopause – like every other stage in a woman’s life – is about choice. You can choose to give birth in water or in a bed. You can choose to take a contraceptive pill or have a contraceptive implant. And you can choose whether to have hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or use complementary therapies when it’s your time to go through the menopause.

But what sort should you try? And which ones actually work?! We know you’re busy, so we’ve done all the legwork. Find out all about six popular natural menopause remedies, plus the studies that prove they’re worth investigating.

You can also read our in-depth guides to other natural remedies for menopause:

  • black cohosh
  • agnus castus
  • red clover

Sage for hot flushes

You’d normally find sage in a recipe sage and onion stuffing but it has been traditionally used for a range of conditions, including menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. Now there’s some early clinical evidence that it works.

In 2011, Swiss researchers discovered that sage could reduce hot flushes by 50% in four weeks and by 64% within eight weeks. The helpful herb could reduce psychological symptoms of menopause, such as mood swings, by 47%, too.1 In the study, women took a tablet containing fresh sage, but you could try making a tea with sage leaves.

Sea buckthorn to boost your sex life

Many women say they experience a dip in their sex life during menopause – symptoms like vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy (where the tissues of the vagina start to thin) aren’t great bedfellows for romance. But sea buckthorn oil could be one answer, especially in women who can’t use oestrogen creams or suppositories.

In a controlled trial by the University of Turku, Finland, women taking sea buckthorn oil every day for three months said they experienced less vaginal dryness, itching and burning, while additional tests showed the oil could help improve atrophy.2 Sea buckthorn oil is rich in fatty acids that may help maintain healthy cell barriers.

Vitamin E to ease hot flushes

Vitamin E is known for its ability to support healthy skin and eyes, but research now shows it could be good for hot flushes, too. A 2007 study published in the journal Gynaecologic & Obstetric Investigation reported that menopausal women taking 400mcg of vitamin E every day for four weeks experienced fewer hot flushes and that those flushes were less severe.3

Some women say that vitamin E can help relieve dry skin post-menopause, and tackle vaginal dryness too. You can find vitamin E in avocados, nuts and seeds, plant oils like olive oil, and in various skincare products.

Ginkgo biloba for low libido

Apart from the physical side-effects, your sex drive can also take a hit during the menopause. This is where ginkgo biloba steps up. A 2014 Iranian study found that women taking the herbal remedy every day for 30 days felt more sexual desire compared with those taking a placebo.4

Ginkgo biloba has also been shown to help relieve memory problems and mild anxiety – both (less well-known but still significant) symptoms of menopause. So, ginkgo can restore your get-up-and-go in more ways than one!

Valerian to tackle temperature changes

Hot flushes can affect up to 85% of women during perimenopause, but luckily there are plenty of natural remedies to combat them! Valerian – traditionally used for anxiety and sleep problems – has also been reported as a successful remedy for menopausal hot flushes.5 Valerian has phytoestrogenic properties, which means it mimics the effects of oestrogen in the body.

One 2018 study conducted by Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Iran, concluded that women taking valerian capsules twice a day for two months had less severe and less frequent hot flushes, and suggested that healthcare providers should recommend it to menopausal women.6 However, because valerian can cause drowsiness, it should be avoided by anyone taking tranquilisers, sleeping pills or strong pain medication.

Soy for menopause symptoms

Soy, a well-known oestrogenic plant, has been widely studied for its impact on menopause symptoms, particularly hot flushes and night sweats. A 2015 meta-analysis of quality medical studies concluded that phytoestrogens, including soy, could reduce the frequency of hot flushes by 11%.7

Be aware that takes time for soy to take effect – experts suggest you may need to take it for at least three months before you start to feel the benefits.8 You can consume soy either as a food such as tofu or soya milk, or in a supplement as soy isoflavones. Women with breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive cancer should not take soy supplements.

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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.

What Teas Help with Menopause Symptom Relief?

Drugs can help balance the hormonal changes that occur during perimenopause. Hormones aren’t the best choice for many women. If you’re looking for more natural and homeopathic remedies, teas may be a healthy and less expensive option.

While a woman’s levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone drop during menopause, tea can help to lessen the symptoms of these changes.

Follow package instructions (or use approximately 1 teaspoon of tea per 1 cup of hot water) for each serving:

1. Black cohosh root

Black cohosh root has been found to reduce vaginal dryness and hot flashes in menopausal women. Research suggests that it’s most effective for women who experience early menopause.

It can be taken in pill form, or more popularly, as a tea. It’s been used as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Women who are pregnant shouldn’t consume black cohosh root tea. Those who are being treated for blood pressure or liver problems also shouldn’t take black cohosh.

2. Ginseng

Ginseng has been proven to help reduce the occurrence and severity of hot flashes and night sweats in menopausal women. Recent research has even found that it can help postmenopausal women lessen their risk of cardiovascular disease.

A 2010 study also showed that red ginseng can help menopausal women increase sexual arousal and improve their sex lives.

You can drink ginseng tea daily to get its benefits. Taking ginseng as an herb can have many interactions with numerous medications include heart, blood pressure, diabetes, and blood-thinning medications. Side effects can include jitteriness, headaches, and nervousness.

3. Chasteberry tree

Chasteberry tree has been found to treat premenstrual symptoms, but drinking the tea can also help ease breast pain (mastodynia) and hot flashes in perimenopausal women.

The herb also increases progesterone, which can help maintain a healthy balance between estrogen and progesterone throughout the transitions from perimenopause to menopause.

Those using hormones for birth control or hormone replacement shouldn’t use chasteberry. As well, those who’ve had hormone-sensitive diseases such as breast cancer should avoid this tea. This is also not a good choice for anyone taking antipsychotic medications or drugs for Parkinson’s disease.

4. Red raspberry leaf

Red raspberry leaf tea hasn’t been linked to easing common perimenopause symptoms. However, it’s an effective way to lessen heavy menstrual flows, especially those that come at the onset of perimenopause for many women. This tea is generally considered safe to take during perimenopause and into menopause.

5. Red clover

Used primarily to treat hot flashes and night sweats in women with menopause, red clover has also been used to treat high blood pressure, improve bone strength, and boost immunity. It’s generally considered safe.

Red clover contains phytoestrogens, a plant-based form of estrogen, which helps to improve the hormonal imbalances caused by menopause. This tea is a delicious way to add red clover to your daily routine.

6. Dong quai

Dong quai tea helps to balance and regulate estrogen levels in women going into menopause, reducing or improving them depending on your hormonal imbalances.

It has also been found to lessen cramps as a symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and can ease the pelvic pain in menopause, as well. Avoid this tea if you are expecting to have surgery. It’s been found to interfere with blood clotting. Those with fair skin might become more sun sensitive after drinking this tea regularly.

A study found that the combination of dong quai and chamomile could reduce hot flashes by up to 96 percent. Read more about the benefits of this powerful plant.

7. Valerian

Valerian root has health benefits that include treating insomnia, anxiety, headaches, and stress. It’s also been an option for women entering menopause due to its ability to reduce hot flashes.

The herb can also treat joint pain. For women experiencing symptoms of osteoporosis, it can be a good option for improving bone strength.

Enjoy a cup of valerian root tea at bedtime to help have a restful night. As a tea, there is little risk in taking it. As an herb, talk to your doctor first, and avoid using it long term and taking it with alcohol.

8. Licorice

Licorice tea can help to reduce the occurrence of hot flashes — and how long they last — in women entering menopause. It can also have estrogen-like effects, and it may be effective in improving respiratory health and reducing overall stress.

Licorice can have adverse effects if mixed with certain prescription drugs, so consult with a doctor before consuming.

9. Green tea

A 2009 study revealed that green tea can be an effective way to strengthen bone metabolism and decrease the risk of bone fractures, especially in women experiencing menopause.

Green tea is also full of antioxidants, some caffeine, and EGCG. EGCG boosts metabolism, helping to fight the weight gain many menopausal women experience. There is little risk in drinking green tea.

This decaffeinated tea might be a good choice if you’re worried about having trouble sleeping.

10. Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba has been found to contain phytoestrogens (similar to red clover) and can raise estrogen levels, naturally improving hormonal imbalances.

A 2009 study suggested that ginkgo biloba can improve PMS symptoms and the mood fluctuation that can occur before and during menopause.

Ginkgo biloba tea isn’t common, but you can find blends such as this one that may help. This herb can interfere with blood clotting, but as a tea for short-term use has little risk.

En español | If a little relief without a prescription sounds like how you’d like to address something like mood swings or dryness right now, read on for top natural remedies backed up by more than hearsay. Plus, what to eat if you want to put off menopause as long as possible (see: oily fish).

Black cohosh

“While it may not be as effective as hormone replacement therapy , black cohosh provides relief with considerably less side effects,” says Megan Boucher, a naturopathic doctor in Georgetown, Ontario.

The herb is also used for mood management and sleep disturbances. “Not only does it help women fall asleep, but also stay asleep,” Boucher says, citing two recent studies that back up its use as a sleep aid. The most effective dose used in studies is 40mg twice per day in the form of a capsule or tablet, according to Boucher. “This dose is very readily available in the majority of supplements,” she says. Just be sure to talk to your doctor before you try any new supplements, which can occasionally interfere with other medications you might be taking.

Controlled breathing

Fight those fiery hot flashes with … breath? A study in the journal Menopause reports the practice of slow breathing really does help — and also decreases fatigue and improves sleep and mood. Study participants who performed the twice-daily series of inhales and exhales reported a 52 percent reduction in hot flashes; those who did it just once a day still reported a 42 percent decrease. “Paced breathing is an easy technique that can be performed by anyone, anywhere, to help with menopausal symptoms,” says Betsy Greenleaf, doctor of osteopathic medicine at Hackensack Meridian Health System in Rumson, N.J. To give it a try, slow your breathing to six breaths per minute (that’s breathing in to a count of five, and out to a count of five) for 15 minutes, twice a day.

Acupuncture

If you’ve never tried acupuncture, now might be the right time, as studies have found that treatments can help reduce both hot flashes and night sweats. Maximum benefit seems to be after eight treatments, and the effects last for six months, according to the study by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Nancy Avis, a Wake Forest School of Medicine professor and the study’s lead author, noted that the benefit also came without side effects.

Magnesium

More than 75 percent of women are deficient in this mineral, which has been depleted in our soils and foods due to modern farming practices and food processing, according to naturopath Carolyn Dean, author of Menopause Naturally. Menopause could be a very good time to start supplementing your intake, since magnesium, “known as the anti-stress, anti-anxiety mineral,” has been shown to reduce hot flashes and raise serotonin levels to improve mood. “Numerous studies have also shown its effectiveness in helping with deeper, more restful sleep,” Dean says. Aim for 700 mg a day of magnesium citrate powder.

Vibrations

You know what they say: Use it or lose it! No woman (or man, for that matter) wants to hear the words “vaginal atrophy.” That’s the shrinking and drying of vaginal tissue that happens after the fertile years have passed. It can lead to dryness, burning, itching, pain with intercourse, and bleeding. Fortunately, you can help keep that lady part in shape by making sure the blood is flowing. Pamela Dee, an ob-gyn in Savannah, Ga., and author of Love, Sweat & Tears! recommends using a vaginal vibrator on high for 15 minutes twice a week. Sex, she notes, also helps.

Oily fish

According to a study of 914 women published this spring in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, a high intake of oily fish such as salmon or sardines seems to delay the onset of menopause by 3.3 years per portion per day. Similarly, a high intake of legumes delayed menopause onset by nearly one year per portion per day. What not to eat? Refined pasta and rice; higher intakes of those foods led to menopause arriving 1.5 years earlier on average.

Natural Remedies for Menopause:
17 Soothing Herbs and Supplements to Help You Feel Great at the End of Your
Menstrual Cycle

Menopause is the physiological experience of the cessation of the menstrual cycle. Specifically, perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause, with women experiencing decreased estrogen, decreased progesterone, fewer eggs produced, less endometrium, shorter and more erratic cycles, and the end of ovulation.

Just as there are many menopause symptoms, there are many natural and herbal remedies for menopause, which we’ll discuss shortly. Menopause is considered complete after twelve months have passed without ovulation. The woman’s reproductive experience begins with menarche, extends through fertility for twenty to forty years, enters the climacteric (including perimenopause), and finally the reproductive experience ends with menopause.

Hormones are at the center of each of these stages. Throughout a woman’s normal menstrual cycle, estrogen is produced in a number of locations in the body such as the ovaries and the adrenal glands, and it’s converted from some foods. Progesterone is only produced after ovulation, and it comes from the ovaries and the adrenal glands. After menopause, the adrenal glands take over full production of estrogen until about age 70.

Because of the spike in estrogen at ovulation and then the lesser spike of progesterone after ovulation, we know that estrogen is generally produced in higher amounts than progesterone. But maintaining the balance between the two with herbal remedies for menopause is essential to avoid emotional and physical problems. Too much estrogen and too little progesterone can trigger a painful imbalance. Excess estrogen can cause bloating, fatigue, weight gain, blood clots, breast tenderness, and other PMS symptoms that can reappear during perimenopause. Hormone replacement therapy and estrogen replacement therapy generally replace only estrogen, ignoring progesterone, which can lead to greater imbalance.

Progesterone is a very vital hormone that needs to appear, even in minimal doses, until menopause is complete. Progesterone:

+ Helps burn fat for energy
+ Decreases water retention
+ Decreases hot flashes
+ Attaches to GABA receptor in the brain to ease depression, mood swings, and anxiety
+ Improves mental function and clarity by protecting the myelin sheath around nerve cells
+ Improves relaxation for good sleep and eases insomnia
+ Increases the sex drive
+ Balances thyroid function (to avoid weight gain, fatigue, food cravings and low blood sugar)

Free Enlightened Living Course: Take Your Happiness, Health, Prosperity & Consciousness to the Next Level

Discover powerful insights and techniques for creating radiant health, happiness, prosperity, peace and flow in your life and relationships. Progesterone also increases the efficacy of other hormones like thyroid-stimulating hormone, testosterone, and estrogen. The following herbs and natural menopause supplements can be used to increase estrogen and/or progesterone levels:

Estrogenic (Estrogen-Increasing) Herbs for Menopause Treatment

Angelica (Angelica archangelica; A. sinensis)

Also called dong quai, this herb does not possess phytoestrogens (that we know of) but instead contains coumarins; this may explain its emmenagogic action (stimulating the uterus) and why angelica is contraindicated with certain drugs, including warfarin. Dong quai is a traditional tier 1 tonic for menopause symptoms and can be a tier 2 specific for nervousness, insomnia, hot flashes, and mental fog.

Where to get it: Organic Angelica Root (Dong Quai) Capsules

Hops (Humulus lupulus)

May present estrogenic actions and is an herb for hot flashes, especially relevant in hot flashes leading to insomnia.

Where to get it: Organic Hops Tincture

Sage (Salvia spp.)

May present estrogenic actions especially relevant in hot flashes, excessive sweating, heart palpitations, and panic, making it another great herb for menopause and natural remedy for hot flashes.

Where to get it: Organic Sage Tea

Red clover (Trifolium pratense)

Has estrogenic effects on endometrial and breast cancer cells in vitro. Contains isoflavones similar to soy.

Where to get it: Organic Red Clover Capsules

Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa)

This North American native wildflower has long been used, and is widely currently used, for menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, menstrual disorders including amenorrhea, and PMS. It is not clear whether black cohosh has an actual estrogen effect in the body or whether it mimics estrogen or works in an altogether different manner as a natural remedy for menopause.

Where to get it: Organic Black Cohosh Capsules

Soy (Glycine max)

The high-protein soybean is a source of phytoestrogens in the form of a isoflavones and are believed to be partly responsible for milder menopause symptoms in people whose diets include soy, which is why it’s being studied as a natural remedy for menopause treatment.

Flax (Linum spp.)

Is high in lignans (phytoestrogens). Easy to include in the diet, flax reduces total and LDL cholesterol.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

An excellent adrenal support herb, licorice is soothing and anti-inflammatory and makes a good tier 3 corollary herb for menopause, but because it can cause water retention and high blood pressure, it should not be used long-term as a natural menopause supplement nor by those with hypertension.

Where to get it: Organic Licorice Root Capsules

Possible Progesterone (Progesterone-Increasing) Herbs

The following herbs have traditionally been used to support progesterone-like effects in the body although neither directly increases progesterone. Further study and work with a phytotheraphy professional is needed.

Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa)

Contains the sterol saponin, which resembles progesterone but cannot be converted naturally by the body into progesterone. Unclear whether internal natural wild yam herbal remedies taken for menopause can increase progesterone in the body; its action may lie in its influence on other endocrine organs or systems.

Where to get it: Organic Wild Yam Tincture

Chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus-castus)

Is widely labeled a hormone regulator, likely because it “balances” the pituitary and particularly the HPA axis. This natural menopause supplement, can be taken long-term for anxiety associated with PMS or menopause, but is contraindicated in pregnancy. Soy also contains the saponins that resemble progesterone, though soy is most commonly used to increase estrogen.

Where to get it: Organic Vitex (Chaste Tree) Phytocapsules

A Formula of Herbs for Hot Flashes

+ 1 part black cohosh
+ 1 part wild sarsaparilla
+ 1 part hops
+ 1 part ginseng

A Formula for Emotional Swings

+ 2 parts vervain
+ 1 part wild yam
+ 1 part chaste tree berry
+ 1 part St. John’s wort
+ 1 part lemon balm

Adrenal Nourishment During Menopause

When the endocrine system registers an emergency or a stressful situation, it responds with the self-protective symptoms including increased heartbeat, pupil dilation, redirection of blood and energy from the periphery to the heart, rapid breathing, and muscle contractions; afterward, the person experiences fatigue and confusion. Some of these same menopause symptoms are observed in the normal menopausal woman, and we can recognize some of the stress of hormone changes affecting the adrenal glands with “life-threatening” urgency.

The hormone-secreting adrenals are already under excessive stress since the ovaries have ceased producing their fair share of estrogen and progesterone. Add to this the normal stress associated with being a mother, grandmother, executive, politician and/or professional, and you have a woman whose endocrine system is reacting to stress.

Because of this, it’s important to include herbs for stress in any natural remedy for menopause.

Typical perimenopause symptoms such as hot flashes, rapid heart beat, vaginal dryness, sweating, rapid breathing, muscle aches, confusion or mental fog, and fatigue can often be explained by adrenal stress. It makes sense to approach issues of perimenopause as if you were addressing adrenal insufficiency—with adrenal supportive and adaptogenic natural remedies for menopause and stress that nourish and tone the endocrine system. I’ve had excellent results working with menopausal women by supporting their adrenal health using lemon balm and licorice, among other herbs for menopause; they report their feelings of anxiety, scattered thinking, and physical symptoms have diminished.

Adrenal Nourishers

In addition to licorice, vervain, and black cohosh, consider:

Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Also called Siberian ginseng, this herb is generally used for stamina and endurance and to support the immune system. It is an effective choice for menopausal women undergoing an extreme transition and feel exhausted or depleted, or who are at risk for contracting viral or bacterial infections. Can be used as tier 1 tonic or tier 2 specific.

Where to get it: Organic Eleutherococcus Capsules

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Is a natural remedy for menopause and stress that is effective for focus, feelings of confidence and satisfaction; specific against restlessness and panic. Antiviral. Can be taken long-term.

Where to get it: Organic Lemon Balm Capsules

Nervine Tonics

In addition to chamomile, passionflower, skullcap and lemon balm, consider:

Oats (Avena sativa)

An excellent long-term tier 1 tonic for the menopausal woman, especially in cases of frazzled nerves, exhaustion, or weepy emotions. Also applicable in cases of anger and excessive heat, so it’s a good herb for hot flashes. Combines well with lavender and nettle.

Where to get it: Organic Oatstraw Tea

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

A tier 1 tonic or tier 2 specific for the menopausal woman who feels panic or fear, or whose restlessness causes heart tremors or other cardiac stress. Also, as a bitter, for the woman whose digestion has shifted or changed as a result of hormone imbalance.

Where to get it: Organic Motherwort Tincture

Natural Sedative Remedies for Menopause

In addition to chamomile (a mild bitter), consider valerian and hops for the menopausal woman experiencing insomnia especially due to night hot flashes or anger. Consider rose, ashwagandha, lavender, and oats for the woman who cannot sleep due to incessant thinking and “brain overdrive.”

Hepatic Herbs

Support the liver’s work at excreting metabolic waste properly. As the body’s production of hormones declines, spent and extra hormones must be removed from the bloodstream effectively. While yarrow is a hepatic herb, it tends to be warming, which most menopausal women don’t need. Instead, consider cooling or neutral hepatics such as motherwort, burdock root, dandelion root, and milk thistle for menopause treatment.

The following formulas combine various natural menopause supplements to support the adrenals and provide natural remedies for menopause.

A Formula for Perimenopause with Insomnia

+ 2 parts skullcap
+ 1 part nettle
+ 1 part passionflower
+ 1 part hops

A Formula for Perimenopause with Headaches and Dryness

+ 2 parts ginkgo
+ 1 part mullein
+ 1 part feverfew
+ 1 part black cohosh

A Formula for Perimenopause with Anxiety

+ 2 parts vervain
+ 2 parts motherwort
+ 1 part nettle
+ 1 part ashwagandha

A Formula for Post-Menopause with Heart Palpitations

+ 2 parts motherwort
+ 1 part ginkgo
+ 1 part hawthorn
+ 1 part linden

This article is excerpted with permission from An Herbalist’s Guide to Formulary: The Art and Science of Creating Effective Herbal Remedies by Holly Bellebuono.

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