Question: I am currently going through the menopause. Unfortunately, I suffer badly with hot flushes and night sweats. Are there any herbal remedies that can help relieve menopausal symptoms?
17 September, 2008 – 12:43
Answer: The Menopause refers to the phase in a woman’s life when her ovaries reduce and finally cease production not only of eggs but also of oestrogen, the hormone that maintains the female reproductive function.
It may begin anywhere from the early forties to the mid-fifties and usually lasts for two or three years.
For seven in every ten women, loss of oestrogen brings a number of unpleasant symptoms such as hot flushes, sweating at night, anxiety, depression and insomnia, all of which are worsened by stress. Women should also be careful to minimize loss of bone mass during the menopause, as this can lead to Osteoporosis.
Fortunately natural alternatives can help to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with the menopause.
Soya based products, such as tofu and soya milk, can be particularly helpful as soya contains plant oestrogens or isoflavones. Isoflavones promote the absorption of calcium into bone, reducing the risks of Osteoporosis.
Isoflavones also have a weak regulating effect on oestrogen. Dong Quai, an excellent all-purpose ‘female’ herb (often referred to as the ‘female ginseng’) is rich in isoflavones, which can be effective at reducing the severity and frequency of hot flushes. It is available separately or in a capsule combination called Menobalance containing soy extract.
Another popular herb rich in isoflavones is Black Cohosh. It is also used to relieve hot flushes and can be taken orally, either as a tablet or a tincture.
For anxiety and stress, one of the most widely used herbal remedies is Kava Kava, a herb from the South Pacific. Available as a tablet and in liquid form, it is thought to be particularly effective for menopausal women.
Similarly, an old folk remedy for anxiety, particularly when it causes insomnia, is chamomile. It is available in tablet or capsule form, but is often taken as a tea that can be drunk three to four times daily between meals.
Finally, a bedtime drink of honey, hot water and three drops of essential oil of sage should help to relieve night sweats.
All of the above remedies are available at your local health shop, however a healthy diet, regular exercise and sufficient sleep will also ease many menopausal symptoms.