Menopause Herbs and Herbal Remedies
There are many useful menopause herbs and herbal remedies which can help to bring relief to the various symptoms of this phase of a woman's life.
Sometimes referred to as the Change of Life, menopause can bring a whole host of symptoms with it, most noticeably hot flashes, forgetfulness, moodiness, changes in sex drive (generally diminished libido), weight gain and fatigue.
Menopause affects every woman differently; every women may experience slightly different symptoms, and so may seek a variety of herbal remedies for relief.
The changes which occur during menopause can be traced to changes in hormone levels, particularly estrogen, and constitutes a natural and important phase of every womens life as she moves into life without menstrual periods. Other symptoms of menopause that women may seek to regulate or stabilize include inconsistent menstrual periods, episodes of depression, insomnia, urogenital changes or difficulties, and changes in appearance (such as wrinkling or dry skin).
The following include some of the most widely available and effective menopause herbs for menopausal symptoms.
- Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) - Available as a dried root or rhizome, this menopause herb acts specifically on the uterus to reduce congestion and cramping, and has also been shown to reduce hot flashes by reducing the effects of the lutenizing hormone in the body. In addition, it may decrease cholesterol levels and hypertension. Native to North America, black cohosh contains phytochemicals, including isoflavones, and plant estrogens that work much like natural estrogen in the body. The supplement can return proper lubrication levels to the vagina, regulate temperature and prevent osteoporosis. In addition, women have reported relief from depression, night sweats, and anxiety. In Germany, the herb has been formally prescribed by doctors since the 1950s. The herb also has very few negative effects, generally only mild headache or nausea in those sensitive to the herb, unless taken in massive doses. When taken in much greater quantities than recommended, it has been reported to cause liver inflammation.
- Chaste tree (Vilex agnus-castus) - The dried fruit of the chaste tree is useful as a menopause herb as it alleviates the symptoms of depression particular to menopause, though traditionally monks used the herb to maintain vows of chastity (it can decrease libido, especially in men). Some experts believe that the active ingredients in chaste tree berries actually affect brain hormones rather than estrogen or progesterone. Women take the herb more often to regulate menstrual period irregularities than to treat specific menopausal symptoms.
- Damiana (Turnera diffuse) - An herb frequently used to stimulate the female libido, as well as a mild antidepressant, damiana can be taken as a tincture or tea. If taken too frequently, however, it can irritate the lining of the urinary tract.
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) - When a womens hormone production level becomes unbalanced, the liver undergoes a great deal of stress. Dandelion has been used for many years as a general liver tonic, making it a useful menopause herb in an indirect way.
- Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) - Called female ginseng, dong quai acts as the closest herbal equivalent to estrogen on the market. For centuries, Chinese healers have used the herb to revitalize womens reproductive organs and to stimulate libido. The herb also contains outstanding amounts of vitamins E, A, and B12. In addition, the herb regulates blood flow, reducing hot flashes and eliminating vaginal dryness. In sum, it functions as a uterine tonic and can regulate menstrual irregularities as well as ease the transition into menopause. As a mild sedative, dong quai can reduce mood swings and treat depression. It can be used in conjunction with black cohosh for added relief as a useful menopause herb.
- False unicorn root (Chamaelirium luteum) - Available as dried roots and rhizomes, this useful menopause herb acts as an estrogen regulator. Experts have noted that it has a direct effect on the uterus and ovaries as well. Holistic practitioners often use this specific plant for the herbal treatment of ovarian cysts, which can become more prevalent during menopause.
- Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) - An all around panacea, this herb improves brain function, circulation, and oxygenation of all body cells. This action relieves symptoms of depression, fatigue, and the memory problems associated with the transition into menopause. Thus, in an indirect way, ginkgo is a helpful menopause herb.
- Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus, Panax quinquefolius) - Available as an extract of the root, ginseng strengthens the adrenal glands, increases immunity, boosts energy, and normalizes blood pressure. Like ginkgo, it can be used for treating mental and physical fatigue. Siberian ginseng has been shown to be somewhat more effective than the American variety, though with its increasing popularity, some herbalists fear that the Siberian variety may become either prohibitively expensive or dangerously close to extinction. In fact, the American variety was discovered only after Far Eastern herbalists sought alternatives to the increasingly scarce Siberian variety. Most people can take the herb and feel no side effects.
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) - Available as the dried roots and rhizomes, licorice acts as a powerful adrenal stimulant and estrogenic herb. However, women with high blood pressure are cautioned not to take the herb; it can deplete potassium and elevate blood pressure if taken too frequently. Licorice can be added in small amounts to other herbal teas to improve the flavor, and has been found to be especially effective in reducing hot flashes. Studies have also shown that it can lower testosterone, which sometimes build to higher than normal levels in the perimenopausal body, causing unwanted hair growth and other testosterone-related conditions. It various effects make licorice a helpful menopause herb.
- Liferoot (Senecio Bursas) - This useful menopause herb is a general uterine tonic that contains an abundance of plant estrogens. Women use it to reestablish emotional stability and eliminate mood swings, and it can also re-stabilize the vascular system and decrease the incidence of hot flashes. Perimenopausal women can use it to treat irregular, painful, or excessive menstrual bleeding, which sometimes occurs as the body shifts into menopause.
- Maca Root - A famed aphrodisiac, as well as an herb touted for its ability to reduce a host of menopausal symptoms. Though maca root does not contain phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), it acts as an adapter that balances the existing hormonal system while encouraging the production of hormones. Maca root also contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, in addition to the B vitamin complex and vitamins C and E. The balance of estrogen and progesterone lessens hot flashes and relieves vaginal dryness. As an aphrodisiac, maca root builds lost libido. Some research indicates that maca root decreases the effects of memory loss and osteoporosis. Thus, in numerous ways, maca root lies among the many useful menopause herbs.
- Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) - a nutritive estrogenic herb and astringent, raspberry works directly on the uterus, toning weakened muscles, and relaxing uterine spasms. Women who suffer from prolapse of the uterus and / or vagina may also find the herb to be beneficial.
- Red clover ( Tritolium pretense) - One of the most important menopause herbs to try during this phase of life, red clover contains a plant estrogen (coumestrol) that stimulates the ovaries. It can restore healthy body functions, specifically in the reproductive system. Women often take this herbal remedy to treat ovarian cysts as well. It relieves hot flashes and can alleviate many other menopausal symptoms. The reason it function so effectively as a helpful menopause herb lies in its rich source of phytoestrogens, plant estrogens that mimic the female sex hormone. Red clover contains many vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, and vitamin C, that benefit overall health. Recent studies have shown that it may slow down or even prevent bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. Red clover also increases the amount of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" cholesterol, in the bloodstream, and thus can be used to prevent hypertension or heart disease. This miracle herb grows naturally in Europe and Asia and has been introduced into North America for grazing livestock. Also called cow clover, bee-bread, and purple clover, red clover appears to be a must try as a menopausal or menopause herb for woman undergoing this changing phase.
- Sage (Salvia officinalis) - Sage has many medicinal properties, but appears to be especially useful for the treatment of hot flashes, as it reduces excessive sweating and it contains plant estrogens. Women report it to be helpful in eliminating night sweats, or hot flashes accompanied by excessive perspiration. This makes sage another useful menopause herb.
- St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - Well known for its mild sedative properties and used to treat depression and anxiety states.
- Sarsaparilla (Smilax officinalis) - Available as the dried roots or rhizomes, this herb stimulates the production of testosterone and therefore improves a waning libido. It can also increase energy and overall feelings of vitality.
- Saw palmetto (Serenoa serrulata) - Available as the dried fruit extract, this astringent diuretic herb can treat urinary incontinence, fluid retention, and prolapse of the pelvic organs. It will also reduce the dryness and lack of tone in the tissues of the bladder which so often lead to irritation and weakness. Many women use it to combat chronic urinary tract infections.
- Shepherd's purse (CapseIla bursapastoris) - Used either in dried flowering plant or fresh form, shepherd's purse functions as a pituitary regulator with androgenic properties. It can swiftly normalize progesterone levels. In addition, women who experience excessive, irregular bleeding or spotting can take the herb to regularize menstrual flow.
- True unicorn root (Aletris farinosa) - This estrogenic herb stimulates and strengthens the female genital organs, as well as provides a mild sedative action.
- Wild yam (Dioscarea villosa) - Wild yam is a powerful estrogenic herb and the basis of many natural menopausal creams used as an alternative to traditional hormone replacement therapy. It can also provide relief by acting as an anti- inflammatory agent to alleviate menopausal arthritis. With its progestogenic properties, some women find it helpful in reducing heavy menstrual bleeding.
And that concludes our collation of useful menopause herbs and herbal remedies. For more information on natural menopause remedies and treatments, read the other related menopause pages and articles.
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