Herbal Therapy for Menopause

CC BY-ND by Lida Rose

Let’s face it. Menopause is uncomfortable to say the least. Besides the night sweats, insomnia, irritability and hot flashes, menopause has been implicated in contributing to such conditions as migraines and even the onset of arthritis. So far the standard of treatment for women in this situation is to replace the lost hormones by participating in hormone replacement therapy and subjecting themselves to a wide range of side effects including the development of several types of cancer, or to simply tough it out.

More and more women have found themselves looking for viable alternatives to traditional medicine, so much so that many scientists have started to take a second look at substances such as soy, black cohosh, and phytoestrogens, which have all been touted as miracle herbs for women during menopause.

Soy contains phytoestrogens that, when ingested, mimic the nature estrogen hormones produced by the body. In essence, phytoestrogens are a natural hormone replacement therapy. Because of the ready availability of soy and its documented benefits, scientists have begun to conduct in depth research, though to date, their findings have been found to be inconclusive.

Native American women first used black cohosh as a medicinal drug, however it was the Germans in the 1980’s that first began to administer the powerful herb to women to relieve the symptoms of menopause. In a study conducted in 1997 in Germany, 150 women were given the herb in an effort to relieve the symptoms associated with menopause. 80% of them reported favorable results. What was even better was that none of the women reported any ill side effects from the use of the herb. However, there is a significant lack of studies that provide any long-term data with regard to the use of black cohosh beyond six months and its use is strongly discouraged past this time frame until further studies can be conducted.

The news of alternative treatments is encouraging, though women are strongly advised to use these remedies with caution and under the supervision of their physician. The unfortunate fact is that while every woman can expect to undergo changes during menopause, there is no one treatment that will alleviate symptoms in all women. If you are experiencing adverse symptoms in relation to menopause, talk with your doctor to determine what treatments are best for you.

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