Want to relieve menopause symptoms naturally? Here are seven herbs that may help

Want to relieve menopause symptoms naturally? Here are seven herbs that may help

What is menopause and why does it happen?

Although menopause is often thought of as a condition to be treated, it’s simply a natural process of change in your life – much like puberty was.  Almost every woman goes through it, and each one experiences it differently.

Technically, the term “menopause” refers to the point at which you have your final menstrual period.  However, it’s more often used as an umbrella term to encompass all the hormonal changes that take place beforehand, and in the years that follow. 

Menopause symptoms happen because your ovaries gradually stop producing two key hormones: oestrogen and progesterone.  This normally happens naturally at some point between ages 45-551, with the average age being 52.  However, for some women it may occur earlier – usually for medical reasons such as surgery or certain conditions.

Symptoms you can expect during menopause

Although menopause symptoms all result from a single cause – the changing hormone levels – they can vary wildly in type and intensity.

For many women, the first sign of menopause will be a change in your menstrual cycles. Bleeding may become lighter or heavier, period length and time between periods may become longer or shorter, and you might miss the odd period.

Eventually, you may also start to notice physical and psychological symptoms such as:

  • Hot flushes and excessive sweating 
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Insomnia, disturbed sleep and fatigue
  • Memory and concentration difficulties
  • Vaginal dryness and low libido

Top herbal picks to help naturally relieve menopause symptoms 

Traditional herbalists in many cultures have used natural remedies to help women deal with menopause symptoms for thousands of years.  Seven of the top herbs from around the globe include:

  • Soy: soy beans are a rich source of natural compounds called isoflavones, which contain phyto-oestrogens (plant oestrogens).  These phyto-oestrogens mimic your body’s natural oestrogen, which may help with the symptoms of changing hormone levels.  In particular, soy isoflavones have been shown to help improve memory in menopausal women2.
  • Red Clover: another excellent source of phyto-oestrogen-rich isoflavones, Red Clover has been shown to significantly decrease a range of menopause symptoms3.
  • Wild Yam: traditionally used to manage uterine spasms, Wild Yam contains plant compounds called saponins, which help to offset the effects of reduced oestrogen levels.
  • Dong Quai: sometimes called “the female ginseng”, Dong Quai has a long history of supporting women’s hormonal balance in Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Black Cohosh: used extensively by Native American healers for a wide range of health conditions, Black Cohosh is another saponin-rich herb, and is particularly valuable for reducing hot flushes and night sweats. 
  • Sage: historically used in several cultures to manage hot flushes and other menopause symptoms, Sage has recently been scientifically shown to significantly reduce these effects4.
  • Zizyphus: another herb from Traditional Chinese Medicine, Zizyphus has a gentle sedative effect that can help you to fall asleep, and may also relieve night sweats.
2Lee YB et al. Soy isoflavones and cognitive function. J Nutr Biochem. 16.11 (2005):641-9.
3Hidalgo LA et al. The effect of red clover isoflavones on menopausal symptoms, lipids and vaginal cytology in menopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. 2005 Nov;21(5):257-64.
4Bommer, S. et al.  First time proof of sage's tolerability and efficacy in menopausal women with hot flushes.

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