As women grow older and begin to experience the symptoms of menopause, most are faced with the decision of how they want to treat those symptoms, or if they want to treat them at all. While hormone replacement therapy is a solution chosen by many women, there are alternatives including herbal remedies and lifestyle changes.
What is menopause?
Menopause is the time in the middle of a woman’s life when her reproductive system slows the production of hormones including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. These reproductive hormones are the messengers used by the body to control a variety of functions, including regulating the monthly period. Menopause is defined as the age when a woman stops having her period. You can read more about menopause in the menopause overview article.
During the months and years leading up to menopause, the body struggles to compensate for the fluctuating levels of hormones. The result can be hot flashes, mood swings, depression, and a variety of other symptoms. Some women chose hormone replacement therapy to help replace the hormones their body is no longer providing. You can read more about traditional hormone replacement therapy and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy in those overview articles.
Long before hormone replacement therapy was available, women were suffering with the symptoms of menopause. Today some women still turn to herbs and vitamins for relief. When used correctly, herbs can help add nourishment that our bodies crave and can help boost the immune system and provide minerals to help bone growth.
Herbs are the basis for many prescription drugs used to treat menopausal symptoms. If you chose to use herbs directly, it is important to study up on how the herb should be prepared and to decide on a safe dose. Just because an herb is “natural” does not mean you can use unlimited quantities. Some herbs can have serious side effects if taken in large doses. Herbs that are typically used to treat hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause include:
• St. John’s wort
• Black cohosh
• Evening primrose
• Damask rose
• Golden seal
• Ladies mantle
Herbs are sometimes brewed into teas or combined with oils or lotions and applied to the skin. Essential oils used in aromatherapy may also be helpful in treating menopausal symptoms.
No matter what you chose to do to treat the symptoms of menopause, you can help yourself feel better and be healthier by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Many women worry about osteoporosis as they enter menopause. Estrogen levels have been found to be a key in maintaining healthy bones in older women. But protecting your bones should be a life-long goal, both before and after menopause.
You can help your bones stay strong by:
• Getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet every day
• Participating in weight-bearing exercises like walking or jogging to keep bones strong
• Not smoking
• Limiting alcohol
Controlling your weight and eating a balanced diet will also help maintain your health through menopause and beyond.
Holistic Online: Herbal Medicine
Project Aware: Remedies for Menopausal Symptoms
Hormone Replacement Therapy Alternatives
Project Aware: Aromatherapy for Menopause
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