Ladies, I don’t have to tell you that the symptoms of menopause aren’t exactly fun. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely already experienced some symptoms and are looking for natural ways to mitigate them.
Female Aging: A Brief Overview
As a woman ages, her body transitions away from childbearing by the ovaries producing less progesterone and estrogen. As these hormones decline, her period will eventually stop. Twelve months without a period is considered menopause. On average, American women start menopause around the age of 51, but it can start as early as age thirty and as late as your 50s. (1) Here are some of the more common symptoms (not all women will experience all of these symptoms and much of it depends on health history, family history, and sometimes even lifestyle choices):
Hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog, insomnia or difficulty sleeping through the night, moodiness, unpredictable periods, dry and/or burning mouth, changes in libido, weight gain (1)
While menopause symptoms aren’t the most exciting topic, getting you through them as comfortably as possible is the goal. Nature offers many wonderful options for help, so let’s get to it.
An herbal supplement that originated in the Mediterranean, chaste berry, or vitex, has long been known for its menstrual health benefits. It has been clinically proven to help reduce hot flashes due to its ability to balance hormones. Numerous studies have shown that the berry may help reduce hormonal symptoms such as breast tenderness, irritability, and headache. In fact, five studies found it superior to a placebo. This makes chaste berry a viable option for support in all stages of a woman’s reproductive life. (4,5)
Black cohosh, a member of the buttercup family, is a flowering plant native to North America. It has a long history of use from treating musculoskeletal pain to treating fever, cough, and pneumonia. It has also been used to treat menstrual irregularities. It has recently become popular for reducing multiple symptoms of menopause including hot flashes and sleep disturbances, just to name a few. Like chaste berry, it seems to balance hormones. It also appears to support mood and reduce stress. (2,3,10)
Diindolylmethane, or DIM, is a compound that is created when we digest broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables. It has shown to be impressively able to treat symptoms of estrogen dominance. In addition, it can also help the body to detoxify xenoestrogens to help keep estrogen in its healthiest form, which is associated with a reduced risk of severe PMS or menopause symptoms, less accumulation of fat, and a reduced risk of cancer. (12)
In 2012, researchers studied how progesterone affected night sweats and hot flashes. Progesterone showed to be helpful for relief of those symptoms but also helped facilitate better sleep. (11)
The conclusion of another study was that progesterone is a safe option for a myriad of menopause symptoms. It can be used in a bio-identical form to correct symptoms of deficiency. It can be used either on a continuous basis or it can be used cyclically, depending on where a woman is in her reproductive life. (9, 11)
Phyto-estrogens – Genistein and Daidzein
Genistein is an isoflavone, which is a hormone-like substance found in soybeans. It is also a phytoestrogen which means that it mimics the effects of estrogen in the body. It is often used to treat conditions affected by estrogen levels in the body.
A 12-week study looked at 84 women who were past childbearing years and experiencing hot flashes. Some were given a placebo and some were given a single daily dose of genistein. The women who received the supplement experienced a reduction in hot flashes compared to the placebo group. This study provides evidence that a daily dose of genistein can reduce hot flashes. (6)
Daidzein is another isoflavone found in soybeans. Like genistein, it also acts as a phytoestrogen. It may be useful in treating hormonal conditions in the body caused by reduced or declining levels of estrogen.
A 12-week study of daidzein looked at women who were experiencing hot flashes. Compared to the placebo group, the women who had been given daidzein reported significant reductions in hot flashes and general improvement in quality of life. This study concluded that daidzein supplementation may be an effective alternative to traditional hormone replacement therapy for hot flashes. (7)
Nature really does offer some beautiful options to help navigate this time of life that can be trying. As you read through the options listed here, hopefully you were encouraged that, with a little trial and error, you should be able to feel a lot more like yourself in no time.
- Ried, R. et al., 2014. Managing Menopause. Journal of Obstetricts and Gynaecology Canada, 36(9), pp 5-15
- Stanford Hospital and Clinics, 2009. Menopause , s.l.: Standford Primary Care Clinics
- Goodman, N. F. et al., 2011. Medical guidelines for clinical practice for the diagnosis and treatment of menopause. Endocrine Practice, 17(6), pp. 1-25
- Grady, D., 2006. Management of Menopausal Symptoms. The New England Journal of Medicine, Issue 22, pp. 2338-2347
- Williams CL, Stancel GM. Estrogens and Progestins. In: Goodman LS, Gilman A, eds. The pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics. 9th ed. Elmsford, Oxford: Pergamon Press; 1996: 1411-1440
- Prior JC. (2018). Progesterone for treatment of symptomatic menopausal women. DOI: 10.1080/13697137.2018.1472567
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
The information provided here is for educational purposes only. None of the research or evidence presented here is intended as a substitute for consulting an appropriate healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you believe that you may have a disease condition, please consult your healthcare practitioner before using this or any other dietary supplement.