Are There Natural Alternatives for Managing Menopausal Symptoms?
The period of a woman’s life called menopause usually occurs around 45 years of age, although, of course this can vary due to a number of different factors. Health issues and hysterectomies for instance can result in menopause beginning earlier, even as early as her thirties.
Because everyone is different, menopausal symptoms can vary in their degree of severity with some women ‘sailing through’ the period, while others suffer greatly. Very few women will experience no symptoms at all and while menopause is a completely natural process, it can be quite distressing at the time. The reduction in estrogen, testosterone and progesterone hormones that occurs is responsible for the unpleasant symptoms commonly associated with menopause and although the process can last anywhere from 7-10 years on average, there are ways to ensure that they can be controlled and not result in total misery.
It is essential to find the correct type of products to effectively control menopausal symptoms, but with so many variances in the symptoms this can be a difficult task. Normal symptoms include headaches, night sweats – often causing insomnia – hot flashes, hair loss, weight gain, vaginal dryness and irritability. Some women may even experience racing heart beat and palpitations, aching joints and muscles, increase in appetite and dizziness. Most menopausal women, at least 3 out of 4, have experienced the discomfort of hot flashes (which include sweating and redness of the skin) and as many as 90% gain weight, sometimes as much as 10-15 lbs, which mostly accumulates on the stomach area as opposed to the hips and thighs.
While Asian women have long controlled menopausal symptoms with natural remedies, most modern doctors are quick to prescribe Hormone Replacement Therapy, which can be successful, does have some serious health risks associated with it, such as an increase in breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Fortunately, natural therapies for menopausal symptoms such as weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, decreased libido, and mood swings do exist. Some of the more popular treatments include:
- Phytoestrogens: These plant compounds mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Isoflavones, is a type of phytoestrogen found in soybeans, has received special attention for its ability to lessen the severity of hot flashes and night sweats. One study found that symptoms were alleviated by approximately 50%, and supplementation with isoflavones improved symptoms in menopausal women experiencing hot flashes.
- Guggelsterones, green tea and bioperine: These key ingredients have been shown to maximize weight reduction and maintain weight loss on a long-term basis.
- Herbal remedies: Many all natural ingredients have been shown to decrease the intensity and frequency of hot flashes. The benefits of black cohosh reduce hot flashes and night sweats due to its estrogenic effects. Other herbal remedies for hot flashes include licorice root, chaste berry, dong quai, motherwort, and red clover extract.
- Vitamin and mineral supplements: Vitamins and minerals can help replenish substances that become depleted as a result of hot flashes, and can help women manage the most common symptom of menopause. Taking B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C is important to replace lost nutrients, while vitamin E supplementation is linked with an overall reduction in hot flashes.
- Calcium and Vitamin D: These are key vitamins and minerals that have been proven effective in preventing and treating bone loss and osteoporosis in post menopausal women. They are essential in decreasing the risk of primary fractures.
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Tips on Entering Smoothly into Menopause
- Exercise regularly. It keeps the metabolism going and is often helpful with depression, anxiety, stress and weight gain. Weight bearing exercise will help to maintain a healthy bone calcium content and help to prevent osteoporosis.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and essential fatty acids. Cold water fish are great sources of essential fatty acids: salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and herring. Essential fatty acids help to support the nervous system which may be important for memory and brain function. They are also anti-inflammatory and are very important for skin health. Include soy in your diet. It often helps with hot flashes and estrogen regulation in your body.
- Nuts and seeds can also be added to the diet for a source of fiber, protein, and essential fatty acids. For example, flax seeds are an important source of healthy anti-inflammatory fats and can help regulate estrogen levels.
- Avoid unnecessary sources of sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Avoid smoking as it has been linked to more severe hot flashes and night sweats.
- Remember that balance in the body is what helps to create health. Make sure to nurture your mind to keep it quick, your body to maintain physical health, and your spirit and emotional life to keep you positive and happy.