Julian Whitaker, MD
For decades, use of equine and synthetic hormones has been the standard treatment for common menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, depre.
One of the most effective ways to ease menopausal symptoms and prevent or reverse osteoporosis is regular exercise.
For decades, use of equine and synthetic hormones has been the standard treatment for common menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, depression and loss of libido, as well as prevention of post-menopausal diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease. However, recent research has cast doubt on the safety of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), leaving millions of women confused about how best to handle menopause. Luckily, nature has provided us with some safe, natural alternatives to help ease many menopausal symptoms and associated health problems.
Supplements for Natural Relief
Native Americans have long used black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) for medicinal purposes, including pain relief during menstruation and childbirth. The active constituents in this herb have been found to significantly reduce menopausal symptoms. Black cohosh extracts have been prescribed extensively in Germany as a natural alternative to HRT for 30 years. I recommend 40 to 80 mg of a standardized extract containing 2.5 per cent terpenes or deoxyactein in divided doses with meals daily.
Although there are few controlled clinical studies on dong quai (Angelica sinensis), its traditional uses are legendary. It is sometimes referred to as "female ginseng" because it is used for such a wide variety of female conditions, including menstrual cramps and abnormal periods, pregnancy, childbirth, hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Its only documented side-effect is increased sensitivity to sun in very few individuals. Try 300 to 1,000 mg in divided doses with meals daily. (Use lower doses in combination with other herbs.)
Soy contains the isoflavones genistein and daidzein, two very powerful phytoestrogens (plant compounds with chemical structures similar to estrogen). In one Australian study, soy flour supplements reduced hot flashes by 40 per cent. Try to incorporate fermented soy foods such as miso, tempeh and natto, into your meals several times a week.
Everybody knows that calcium (1,500 mg per day) is important for bone strength. Supplementation with this mineral can slow the rate of bone loss by 30 to 50 percent, and it offers significant protection against hip fractures. But don't neglect other bone-building nutrients. Make sure your daily nutritional supplements contain vitamin D (800-1,000 mg), which is required for absorption of calcium into the bone, and magnesium (750 mg), which is key for the metabolism of calcium as well as vitamin D. Also essential for bone strength are vitamin C (2,500 mg), and vitamin A (3,000-5,000 IU). And because excess homocysteine contributes to osteoporosis, take vitamin B6 (75 mg), vitamin B12 (150 mcg) and folic acid (800 mcg) as well.
Finally, one of the most effective ways to ease menopausal symptoms and prevent or reverse osteoporosis is regular exercise. Exercise not only helps strengthen your bones, but also naturally boosts hormones, increases energy, improves mood, lowers risk of heart disease, and even slows down the aging process. Women who exercise regularly are much less likely to suffer with menopausal symptoms. No other single action can deliver so many health benefits.
Note: If you have a history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor before trying any menopause therapies, natural or otherwise.