Menopause is a transitional period in which women experience a reduction in estrogen levels which results in uncomfortable, and at many times, upsetting symptoms. Some of these symptoms are hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings. fatigue, dryness of hair or hair loss, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Most pharmaceutical treatments involve the use of HRT (Hormone replacement therapy). This is a treatment that utilizes hormones that are often derived from pregnant horses. This is a potent form of estrogen that can significantly increase a woman’s risk of developing hormone-related cancers such as breast cancer.
In my practice, I have come across numerous cases in which women developed breast cancer shortly after beginning HRT.
A safer alternative is to use plant estrogens such as Fenugreek or Black Cohosh. There are also clinically-tested formulas that are used for treating this condition with no side-effects such as Menosan by Himalaya.
In addition to simply managing the symptoms of menopause, it is important to understand that during this transition the adrenal glands are given the responsibility of maintaining normal physiology (in terms of estrogen regulation). Therefore, the adrenal glands must be supported as well. There are foods and exercises that can help with this, as well as herbs and supplements for more severe cases.
1. Black Cohosh
Black Cohosh is an age-old remedy and popular supplement for Menopause. In clinical research Black Cohosh has been found to be highly effective in reducing vasomotor, psychiatric, physical, and sexual symptoms of menopause (see study).
While using Black Cohosh, it is important to monitor liver function as well as inflammatory markers (in patients with autoimmune conditions). It is also important to avoid the use of drugs that are hepatotoxic (Acetaminophen, Statins, etc). Although there have only been a few cases of hepatotoxicity with this herb, it is important (and responsible) to monitor liver function.
For women who have a history of cancer, this herb should only be used after consulting an Ayurvedic doctor.
In my practice, I have found that the safest way to use Black Cohosh is to combine it with a clinically-proven hepatoprotective herb.
Fenugreek has a long history as an effective remedy for multiple disorders related to gynecological health including menopause, dysmenorrhea and reduced flow of breast milk
It is very important to monitor blood sugar levels while taking fenugreek as this herb is a hypoglycemic agent. I recommend starting out with fenugreek tea, before moving on to a pill containing the extract.
A simple tea can be made by adding 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds to 1 cup of boiling water. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes, then consume it. You can add a bit of honey to the tea just before drinking it.
Menosan is a herbal Ayurvedic medicine made by The Himalaya Drug Company. It contains herbs such as Ashoka (Saraca Indica), Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus), Licorice Root, Gotu Kola, Bala (Sida Cordifolia), etc. Each of these herbs plays various roles in improving and supporting hormone regulation. They are rich in phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) and also possess anti-stress, anti-inflammatory, and demulcent properties. In clinical trials, Menosan has been found to alleviate symptoms such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness. After 3 months it symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritation, insomnia reduced. After 6 months of treatment, raised FSH levels were significantly reduced (see studies 1 & 2)
Patients with a history of breast cancer or other hormone-related cancers should use this only after consulting an Ayurvedic doctor as well as their primary care physician.
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(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
by Dr. Nishal R.
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