Peri-menopause and Menopause
Before going into the natural remedies of menopause, it is important that we understand what is the difference between peri-menopause and menopause. Menopause is when a woman doesn’t menstruate for an entire year. Peri-menopause is the stage before that happens and usually starts in your mid 40’s. Most women notice only slight changes in their cycle during this time.
Eventually your ovaries will have run out of eggs and that’s when your period stops altogether. That also means that your hormone levels, estrogen and progesterone, decline. The early signs that you are in peri-menopause can include: change in periods, mood swings, hot flashes, have trouble in sleeping, vaginal dryness, sudden bursts of anger, and thinning hair. Don’t fret. There are many things you can do to reduce the severity of these symptoms. Acupuncture and herbs are very effective. There are also several natural remedies that can help.
What are these natural remedies?
These natural remedies are sometimes referred to as herbal medicines. These includes black cohosh, sage tea, wild yam cream, ginkgo, St. John’s wart and chaste tree berry extract. These natural remedies have been shown to be effective in reducing menopausal symptoms.
I had to laugh the first time I asked my husband, “Is it hot in here, or is it me?” Black Cohosh will help reduce those so unwanted surges of heat known as hot flashes. It also has a calming effect and can help with sleep issues. Clinical studies have shown that black cohosh is one of the most effective herbal remedies in treating menopausal symptoms. I have a wonderful herbal formula
with black cohosh that I take daily and have almost no heat as a result.
Sweaty nights are the worst! Sweat and lack of sleep makes you feel crappy in the morning. Drinking sage tea daily is shown to be effective at reducing night sweats. If you don’t want a hot drink, try making it into a lovely summertime iced tea. Hold the sugar though, as that can cause more heat. Another thing do help nighttime heat is not taking a bath or shower before bed. Sometimes that hot bath can increase your heat several hours later.
Vaginal dryness. UGH! Who wants to talk about that? It’s so personal and yet so common after menopause. What happens is the lack of estrogen causes the vaginal lining to thin. Not a happy vagina. Wild Yam Cream can relieve irritation and pain in your vagina that results in vaginal dryness. The other thing I like is a natural suppository that has a teensy weensy bit of estradiol in it. My patients use this and their vagina feels young again. WooHoo!
Did I forget something? This happens so often to me now. I walk downstairs to get something and when I arrive, I forgot what I was going to get. Drives me nuts! Well, increasing blood flow to the brain is how ginkgo helps with memory loss. Ginkgo will also help protect all your blood vessels with overall improved blood flow. You can do this too with moderate, daily exercise. So get moving.
St. John’s Wart
St. John’s Wart was all the rage for depression several years ago and it really does help with mood swings and depression. Unfortunately, these are the common symptoms of menopause. If you work with a holistic practitioner, check in with them about herbal options for mood. I have several different formulas I use with patients to reduce stress and elevate mood. You have to be careful though as herbal formulas are powerful and can interact with medications. Always check with your doctor about taking herbal supplements for mood.
Regular to intermittent periods will occur during your peri-menopausal years. Chaste tree berry extract would be good for you to start taking in the early stages of peri-menopause. You don’t want to wait until you’re in full-blown menopausal symptoms to get help. Starting early will help you ease through the process. Chaste tree helps regulate your period. So women of any age who is having menstrual issues, such as PMS or irregular cycles, could find relief with chaste tree.
No one remedy works for everyone. I find it best to work with a holistic practitioner to get some guidance. You need to not only look at natural remedies, but also lifestyle changes, as the combination is most effective in reducing menopausal symptoms.
Getting on the right path before you are suffering with menopausal symptoms is the best way to approach this next phase of your life. I often tell my patients, every decade of a women’s life brings a new challenge and opportunity for growth. I can’t be doing the same thing with my body at 50 as I did at 30. I invite you to look at your body, at whatever age you are now, and see how you can best support the changes you are experiencing. Menopause is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be painful.