Menopause, otherwise known as the “change of life” happens when a woman’s menstrual period ceases and she is no longer able to bear children. This process is a gradual one and can take anywhere from 5-10 years to complete. Menopause comes with a wide variety of irritating symptoms from hot flashes to irritability that can cause serious discomfort. While some women consider hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage their fluctuating hormones, others are turning to natural treatments for menopause.
Symptoms of Menopause
Symptoms of menopause can vary from woman to woman. No two women will experience the exact same symptoms or severity. The most common symptoms that the change of life is on its way are:
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of sex drive
- Mood swings
- Hair loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Weight gain
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Brittle nails
- Change in body smell
- Heart palpitations
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Muscle and joint tenderness
- Breast pain
- Digestive problems
- Itchy skin
- Bad taste in mouth
- Electric shock feeling in neck or head
Again, not every woman goes through these same symptoms and few women experience all of them at once. Menopause is a gradual hormonal change that affects all women differently.
Natural Treatments for Menopause
Here is a list of herbs, supplements, and homeopathic remedies to treat menopause:
- Black Cohosh – Native toNorth America, the Black Cohosh plant has been used for its medicinal properties for hundreds of years. Women going through the change of life have greatly benefited from the use of this natural herb. Though it is not clearly understood how black Cohosh works, it is said to have estrogen-like properties that treat the hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and mood swings associated with menopause.
- Red Clover – Menopausal women may also benefit from drinking red clover tea. Red clover works by decreasing symptoms of hormonal imbalance much like hormone replacement therapy. Its phytoestrogens not only help relieve hot flashes and night sweats but are also good for your heart!
- Wild Yam – This herb has estrogenic properties that help treat hot flashes and night sweats without the side effects of hormone replacement therapy. Wild yam can also be used by pre-menopausal women for treatment of menstrual cramps.
- Ginseng – For the mood swings, insomnia, and irritability associated with the change of life, reach for ginseng. This ancient Eastern herb has been used for thousands of years to effectively boost mood, increase energy, and improve sleep.
- Vitamin D – Millions of women are vitamin D deficient and completely unaware of it. Not only does your body need vitamin D for good immune system health, you cannot absorb calcium without adequate levels of vitamin D in your blood. Vitamin D plus calcium helps prevent the bone diseases associated with aging.
- Calcium – Women in their 40s and 50s are more prone to bone loss than younger women. Because of this, menopausal women should take a calcium supplement of 1,000-1,2000 milligrams per day. Taken with vitamin D, calcium can help prevent osteoporosis. Hint: Instead of taking a large dose of calcium once a day, spread your doses out and take with food 2-3 times per day. It will be easier for your body to absorb.
- Flaxseed – Flaxseed is a natural anti-inflammatory and is a good source of lignans, which help balance feminine hormones. It is important to take flaxseed alone and not with other medications as it can block the absorption of some prescriptions. Take 2 hours before or after taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
- Magnesium – Magnesium is an essential mineral your body cannot make on its own. It is responsible for good neurological health and can help ease feelings of restlessness and anxiety in menopausal women.
Homeopathic remedies are designed to treat very specific symptoms. The physical and emotional indicator a woman presents with will determine the homeopathic remedy her doctor will prescribe.
- Ignatia Amara – Ignatia amara is generally used for grief, anxiety, and emotional upset and may benefit menopausal women during this time of roller-coaster emotions. This homeopathic remedy is especially beneficial for very sensitive women who sigh and yawn often.
- Belladonna – For women with migraines and intense flooding hot flashes, belladonna can help. It is used to treat anxiety, intense mood swings, hot flashes, and cramping.
- Graphites – Women who are pale, clammy, overweight, and sluggish will benefit from the use of graphites. This remedy can help balance the body from the inside out, making menopausal symptoms much easier to manage.
- Pulsatilla – Soft and emotional women who are very close to their families may benefit from the use of pulsatilla. This woman’s menopausal symptoms will include feelings of nausea, heat alternating with chills, weight problems, and cravings for sweets and fats. Pulsatilla can provide balance.
Diet and Exercise
Any woman going through the change of life can benefit from a healthy diet. This means eating plenty of organic vegetables, fruits, lean meats, protein-rich beans and legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocado, walnuts, and extra virgin olive oil.
Regular exercise can mean anything from taking a hike in the woods, joining a yoga class or hitting the gym 3-4 times per week. Be sure to balance cardio with strength-training but don’t push yourself if you’re not feeling up to it. Do some gentle stretches or hit the gym swimming pool when hot flashes are getting too much.
The change of life isn’t something a woman ever looks forward to going through but it can be easily managed through diet and lifestyle changes as well as the addition of some natural treatments. Take caution in using natural remedies and supplements if you’re taking prescription medication or suffer from any serious medical illness.
Menopause isn’t the end of everything; it’s a pause on your way to a new beginning.
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