For many women, menopause occurs just as they’re getting ready to start a new phase in their lives. The average age for onset is 51, so they’re at a point where the children have left home and they have more time to pursue interests like travel, new hobbies, or even a change in career direction.
Unfortunately, health changes can get in the way of these plans. If you’re in menopause, you may be experiencing hot flashes and having trouble sleeping. Over time, these issues can leave you too tired and depressed to enjoy life- an estimated one in four women experience symptoms so debilitating that normal functioning becomes difficult.
While many of these women opt for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), others turn to natural remedies for relief. In this blog, we’ll list seven treatments that can help reduce or manage the more uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, leaving you ready to embrace an exciting new future.
1. Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
A perennial plant in the buttercup family, black cohosh is native to North America. European settlers used it as a tonic to support women’s reproductive health and, today, the root is used to treat women’s health issues like premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menstrual cramps, and menopause.
Black cohosh appears to act similarly to estrogen, the hormone that depletes in midlife and causes many of the symptoms women experience during menopause. This is why it’s typically used to control problems like headaches, hot flashes, mood changes, and insomnia.
How to use it: Some studies used 20-40 milligram tablets of a standardized extract twice a day, but directions for taking it in other forms may vary. Many experts recommend that no one should use black cohosh for longer than six months at a time, so speak to your healthcare practitioner if your symptoms continue beyond that.
2. Sage (Salvia)
Sage is part of the mint family. Two types, Salvia officinalis and Salvia lavandulifolia, are common ingredients in many cooking recipes and in dietary supplements. It has anti-inflammatory properties and high antioxidant levels that have helped women manage menopause symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, and mood swings.
How to use it: To make a tea, pour eight ounces of boiling water over two or three teaspoons of fresh sage and steep for 10 minutes.
Strain and add a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup if desired. Sip a cup during the evenings, in particular, to help with night sweats and hot flashes.
3. Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal medicines in the world. For centuries, it has been used to boost immunity, improve cardiovascular health, and increase energy levels. Many types exist, but Korean red ginseng is most often studied in connection with menopause.
According to a 2016 review of 10 studies on Korean red ginseng, it may improve mood and general health in menopausal women. It has even been found to lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women.
How to use it: To make a tea, take two slices of dried and peeled ginseng root, coat them in honey, and let them sit in a cup for at least 15 minutes. Then pour a cup of boiling water over them and let steep for at least five minutes before taking out the ginseng pieces. Sip a cup at any point in the day except before bed, as ginseng can interfere with sleep.
4. Ginkgo biloba (Ginkgo biloba)
Ginkgo has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for at least 2,500 years. The seeds, leaves, and nuts of the ginkgo tree have traditionally been used to treat many ailments, including dementia, asthma, bronchitis, and kidney conditions. If you struggle with forgetfulness and brain fog due to menopause, ginkgo can improve mental function by protecting blood vessels and supporting better blood flow to the brain.
How to use it: While there is no standard dose of Ginkgo Biloba supplements, studies have used a daily dosage of between 120 to 600 mgs of the extract to improve cognitive function in healthy people. If you are living with any health conditions (other than menopause), speak to your healthcare provider first to confirm that ginkgo won’t interfere with any medications you might be taking.
5. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
If you’re experiencing mood swings and mild depression due to menopause, you might want to try St. John’s Wort, which studies have found to be as safe and effective as selective SSRI antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft. It’s also quite effective for the seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and OCD when paired with lemon balm.
How to use it: Clinical trials for adults found that 300 mgs of St. John’s wort taken three times a day for six months could alleviate symptoms of depression. Following the initial treatment, some people choose to go on a lower maintenance dose of 300 to 600 mgs per day.
However, if you are taking antidepressants, consult your healthcare provider, as mixing St. John’s wort with some medications can cause illness.
6. Wild Yam Cream (Dioscorea villosa)
Wild yam is often used as an alternative to estrogen therapy for treating symptoms of menopause. The roots and bulbs contain a chemical called diosgenin, which can influence the production of important hormones in humans, including estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). By eating wild yam, you may be promoting the body’s natural production of these hormones.
How to use it: Wild yam cream, which is available in many natural healthcare outlets, is often used to heal wounds, so if you’re experiencing irritation and pain due to vaginal dryness, the cream may be able to prevent tearing.
7. Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus)
Chaste tree berry has traditionally been used to regulate menstruation. It is believed to work by increasing your progesterone levels, which can prevent the heavy menstrual cycles experienced by so many women during menopause.
How to use it: Daily doses of chaste tree berry extract are typically 20 to 40 mgs. You can also add ½ teaspoon of chaste tree berry powder to your smoothies once a day or make a tea by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over 1/4 tbsp of ground berries and steeping for 10 minutes.
Menopause symptoms can be uncomfortable to the point of disrupting your life, but if you prefer to address them naturally, the remedies in this blog have worked for a lot of women. The good news is that menopause doesn’t last forever- soon you’ll be over the hurdle and ready for the exciting opportunities and adventures that await you.