Menopause is when women's reproductive hormone production stops naturally as they get older. Menopause is marked by a decline in estrogen levels. This shift marks the end of your menstrual cycle and the ability to get pregnant. Menopause usually occurs sometime between the ages of 45 and 55 years.
In rare cases, some women get menopause before 40 years. When that happens, it's referred to as premature menopause or premature ovarian insufficiency.
Menopause may show different symptoms for different women. Some of the symptoms of menopause include:
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flushes
- Low sex drive
- Poor memory and concentration
Menopause supplement, as discussed below, focuses on symptoms since menopause is a natural process.
Dong Quai is a traditional Chinese herb that has been used widely for period pain, menstrual cycle issues, and menopause. Traditionally, it's used with other Chinese herbs such as black cohosh, red cover, and chamomile. It is believed to help with hot flushes. However, there is no conclusive evidence to support that belief.
Research has shown it reduces night sweats and hot flashes significantly. Dong quai is generally safe, but it affects the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications such as aspirin, warfarin, and heparin. It may increase skin sensitivity to the sun.
The Black cohosh plant belongs to the buttercup family and is primarily found in North America. It was traditionally used to manage menstrual and childbirth issues by the American Indians. Some studies suggest that black cohosh may treat heat flashes and improve mood through its effects on serotonin receptors in your brain. Unlike other herbs, black cohosh acts on serotonin receptors, not estrogen receptors.
Studies suggest it may help manage vasomotor and depression symptoms in women in menopause. Black cosh doesn't have serious side effects, just mild gut issues. Taking a high dose of black cohosh may cause dizziness, headaches, and vomiting.
Red clover is one of the most studied plants for its effects on women undergoing menopause. It is rich in isoflavones, plant-based hormones with similar functions as the estrogen hormone. Some studies suggest that red clover may effectively manage hot flushes, reduce LDL (Low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol, and maintain bone health. But there's no conclusive research to support those facts. Still, no serious side effects have been reported.
Like the black cohosh, soy is one of the plants frequently studied to determine its effects on menopausal symptoms. It is rich in lignans, isoflavones, and coumestans, which have similar properties to the estrogen hormone. Studies show that a high soy intake helps to promote bone health by improving bone mineral density (BMD). However, conclusive research on the effects of soy on menopausal symptoms is still minimal.
St John's wort
- Menopausal symptoms
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Somatic symptom disorder (feeling extremely anxious about the physical symptoms)
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
St John's wort combined with other herbs is considered a good solution for treating menopausal symptoms. Studies on the interaction between St John's wort and medications prove that it may reduce the effectiveness of some medications, such as:
- Birth control pills
- Blood thinners
- Heart medications
- Cancer medications
- HIV medications
- Cyclosporine (a drug used to avoid rejection of transplanted organs)
Before using St John's wort, consult your doctor, especially if you are on other medications.
Flaxseed is also known as linseed. It belongs to the family of Linaceae and contains phytoestrogen (female hormones found in plants) known as lignans. When you eat flaxseed, the bacteria in your stomach act on the lignans and weaken their estrogen effect. The lignans are found on the flaxseed cell wall, and grinding the seed is the only way to get the lignans. Flaxseeds are rich in soluble fibers, omega-3 fatty acids, and alpha-linolenic acid. Flaxseeds have been found to lower vaginal dryness and lower the risk of breast cancer.
The ginseng (Panax ginseng or Panax quinquefolius) root may help you manage the symptoms such as stress, mood issues, physical exhaustion, and fatigue. In addition, studies have shown that, for menopausal women, ginseng increases sex drive and improves mood and general physical and mental well-being.
Studies show that ginseng effectively reduces the number of hot flashes, but it may not help with improving the symptom. Due to its blood-thinning effect, the herb has also been linked to post-menopausal bleeding (bleeding after menopause). Consider talking to your doctor before using ginseng if you are using any blood thing medication.
Maca is a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the same family as broccoli and cabbage — the brassica family. Traditionally maca was used for:
- Boosting energy
- Hormonal balancing
- Promoting healthy thyroid functioning
- Promoting sexual functioning
- Managing menopausal symptoms
- Promoting bone health
Studies show that maca can help you manage discomfort linked to menopause. It's beneficial during the post-menopausal stage.
In some parts of the world, maca was also used to treat infertility (difficulty getting pregnant), hormonal imbalance, and anemia (low iron) for centuries. In a few recent studies, maca seemed to help in boosting sex drive and treating menopausal symptoms. Still, there is little proof that maca has such effects on menopausal symptoms.
Evening primrose oil
Evening primrose oil (EPO) is extracted from the seed of the primrose plants. It contains high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, linoleic acid, and gamma-linolenic acid. The evening primrose oil is commonly used to manage hot flushes.
Evening primrose oil is also used to treat bone loss. Using EPO in the short term is generally safe for adults. Some of its side effects include nausea, inflammation, diarrhea, and issues with blood clotting and the immune system.
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HSS Public Access: "Botanical and Dietary Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms: What Works, What Doesn't."
International Journal of Biomedical Science: "Use of Gelatinized Maca (Lepidium Peruvianum) in Early Postmenopausal Women."
Jean Hailes: "Menopause & Herbs."
Mount Sinai: "Flaxseed."
National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health: "St John's wort."
NHS: "Menopause?" National Library of Medicine: "Botanical and Dietary Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms."
The North American Menopause Society: "Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes."
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