Dear Doc | Is there any natural treatments for menopause?
Q. Dear Doc, I was recently told I’m going through menopause after seeing my doctor about the terrible hot flushes. It was suggested, that I take some hormones, but I do not like what I am hearing about them, and causing cancer. Is there any natural way to get treatment for my menopause?
A. In the past, managing menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, usually meant starting hormone replacement therapy. It was believed that hormones were the best method for combatting bothersome menopausal symptoms, and also for preventing heart disease and osteoporosis. However, medical research in the early 2000s, revealed that hormone replacement therapy wasn’t as great as previously believed, and also, was not protective against either condition and could increase the risk of stroke and breast cancer. As a result, many women stopped taking hormone therapy, and even today, it is like a bad word to many women. It is now known that in some cases, hormone therapy can be effective and safe, but many women still prefer more natural ways to deal with their menopausal symptoms. Results have been varied in terms of the relief that some woman get from these natural remedies, but here are some options to try and see if they might provide some relief for your menopausal symptoms.
Soy Soy, is the best studied of all the natural remedies for menopause. It contains high levels of estrogen-like compounds called phytoestrogens, that mimics the body’s natural estrogen. It is believed that these phytoestrogens may help to counter menopause symptoms. It is thought that women having two daily servings of soy for six weeks to a year, can reduce their hot flash frequency and severity by as much as 26%. However, high doses of soy may increase your risk for breast and other hormone-sensitive cancers such as uterine cancer; so if you have one of these cancers or are at high risk for developing any of them, always talk to your health-care provider before taking soy in food or supplement form.
Another type of phytoestrogen is found in flaxseed. Results from studies have been mixed, but it may help symptoms in some women. It is also believed to help lower cholesterol. Avoid whole flaxseed because it is difficult to digest so it is suggested to take ground or as oil. Some women experienced a 50% reduction in hot flashes. Because flaxseed, like soy, can act like estrogen in the body, the same caution is advised when taking flaxseed as a treatment.
Black Cohosh Black cohosh has also had mixed results for reducing hot flashes. It has been used in Native American medicine, and also known as: black snakeroot, bugbane, bugwort, rattleroot, rattletop and rattleweed. It is derived from a species of buttercup. During menopause, the pituitary gland (a pea-sized organ at the base of the brain) produces increased amounts of LH (luteinizing hormone), which is what is believed to be a cause of hot flashes. Black cohosh is thought to block the production of this hormone, therefore reducing the occurrence of hot flashes. But no solid science supports that.
This has been used to relied the menopausal symptom of vaginal dryness. Vitamin E oil when applied to the vagina helps improve lubrication.
Healthy Fats and Fatty Acids After menopause, certain risk factors for heart disease increase, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Consuming a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is important to the heart health of women going through menopause. Omega-3 fatty acids are also particularly good at lowering triglycerides,
Exercise and Meditation Yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques all relieve stress, which can help with coping with menopausal mood swings, and sleep disruptions. Exercise and meditation reduce irritability in some women. Yoga combines both Exercise and meditation into one activity. Exercise also helps most people to sleep better. Other suggestions to reduce Hot flashes/Night sweats
-Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which are diuretics (makes you urinate more) that encourage dehydration, and can aggravate hot flashes.
-Avoid spicy foods and hot baths and showers as much as possible
-Drink lots of water to stay hydrated during the day
-Keep your bedroom cool, and use cotton sheets,
-Wear lightweight, cool, natural fiber, moisture-absorbing clothing to sleep.
-Wear layered clothing during the day, because it can be chilly after the hot flash.
To improve sleep problems - Maintain a consistent sleep/wake routine
-Sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room.
-Turn off the TV and electronics at least 30 minutes prior to sleep.
-Avoid caffeine late in the day.
Instead of relying on one particular remedy, it is better to ensure your overall habits are healthy. Maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, having a daily stress reduction technique and losing weight if you’re overweight.