Menopause is a period in a woman’s life during which female hormone levels drop and the ability to conceive a child ceases. The hormonal changes can have a dramatic effect on both physical well-being and emotional equilibrium.
Problems such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, fatigue, sleep problems and vaginal dryness are common. Hormone replacement therapy can supply a steady dosage of hormones to relieve these symptoms, and it is generally considered a standard treatment for menopause symptoms.
However, hormone replacement therapy is linked to an increased risk for female cancers and many not be advised for women with a family history of these cancers. A number of natural remedies are available that can help reduce uncomfortable symptoms, without increasing your risk for contributing to other medical issues.
Botanical name, Angelica sinensis, this root has been used in Asian culture to reduce menopause symptoms for thousands of years. Dong quai is still used by practitioners Traditional Chinese Medicine today, in combination with other herbs, for menstrual problems and to increase blood flow in the reproductive tract.
Some studies indicate dong quai can be helpful in reducing hot flashes. The method of action is not well understood at present, but it may be that the herb works like estrogen compounds in the body. Consult your doctor before using dong quai, because it can interact with other medications. In addition, you should wear sunscreen when outdoors, because dong quai can make you more sensitive to sunlight.
Black cohosh, botanical name Actaea racemosa or Cimicifuga racemosa, can also relieve menopausal symptoms, as well as other problems. It is a perennial plant that is native to North America and related to the buttercup. Both Native Americans and European settlers used the plant for a variety of illnesses.
Today, the herb is known as a remedy for menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances, nervousness and irritability. Science does not understand the underlying mechanism of action in black cohosh. The herb may act as an estrogen compound in the body, but some evidence indicates it may affect serotonin levels in the brain that help to reduce the experience of discomfort.
Ginseng is another Asian herb that has been used for thousands of years to improve health and reduce various symptoms. Some evidence indicates that particular types of ginseng, such as Korean red ginseng may be effective in relieving menopausal symptoms of hot flashes, vaginal dryness and sexual dysfunction.
Researchers believe that ginseng may act as an estrogen-like compound in the body. However, because the studies are limited and a safe dosage of ginseng has not yet been determined, individuals should use this compound with care.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is a flowering plant that grows in Europe and has been used for centuries for mood disorders. Some studies indicate that St. John’s wort can be as effective for mild and moderate depression as pharmaceutical antidepressants. The herb can be used to reduce mood swings of menopause, to improve sleep and provide greater overall well-being. St John’s wort can interact with some medications, so you should check with your doctor before starting its use.
Wild yam root, not to be confused with sweet potato root, is an ancient remedy for menopausal symptoms. Many women believe it helps with vaginal dryness and other symptoms. It may act as estrogen-like compounds in the body. However, no studies support its ability to change to these compounds currently. It is available in a cream form and can be used on a daily basis.
You can do more than change your diet to reduce hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Yoga is a type of exercise that uses formalized positions and breathing patterns to improve health and increase well-being. Studies of yoga indicate that it can help to reduce the discomfort of menopause symptoms, as well as to improve mood and sleep patterns.
Some evidence indicates that acupuncture, the ancient Asian practice of inserting very find needles at particular nerve centers in the body, can help to reduce hot flashes on a temporary basis. Acupuncture can also help to improve mood and general physical discomfort.
Not all women experience severe symptoms during menopause, but when they occur, they can cause a real disturbance to normal life and activities. Women who would prefer to avoid hormone replacement therapy can discuss these natural options with their doctors.
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