For many women, Menopause can be one of the most difficult phases of life. As hormone levels drop, a succession of physical and emotional changes follow, and finding a new normal usually requires major lifestyle shifts.
The article below tells us more about menopause and some herbs that can be used to outsmart the problems that come with it.
Menopause, also referred to as the “change of life,” is the point at which a woman stops ovulating and menstruation ceases, indicating the end of fertility.
When a woman stops ovulating, her ovaries largely stop producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is commonly thought of as sex hormone strictly tied to reproduction, but it also acts on many different organs in the body.
Cells in the vagina, bladder, breasts, skin, bones, arteries, heart, liver and brain all contain estrogen receptors, and require this hormone for normal cell function. Estrogen is needed to keep the skin smooth and moist, the body’s internal thermostat operating properly and the arteries unclogged, for example, it is necessary for the proper bone formation.
Although estrogen levels drops sharply after menopause, the hormone does not disappear entirely. Other organs take over from the ovaries and continue to produce some estrogen and other hormones. The organs known as endocrine glands secrete hormones to maintain proper bodily functions.
Generally women experience “natural” menopause between the ages of 48 and 52, but some cease menstruating in their early forties while others stop in their mid 50s. However, because of genetics, illness or medical procedures, some women go through menopause before the age forty. Menopause that occurs before this age, whether natural or induced is known as “premature menopause.”
Some women go through menopause with few or no noticeable symptoms. However, many women experience short-term or acute symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, anxiety, depression, poor libido, bladder problems, virginal dryness and aging of the skin, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and insomnia.
All of these symptoms are due to estrogen and progesterone deficiency. Over the long term, the diminished supply of estrogen increases the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, in particular is a major problem for women after menopause.
It is important to remember that menopause is not a disease. It is a natural phase in a woman’s life. How a woman views this time of her life can have a lot to do with how frequent and severe her symptoms are.
If menopause is viewed as the end of youth and sexuality, this time will be much more difficult than if it is viewed as the next, natural phase of life. When a woman is healthy, menopause would not indicate the onset of old age and she would expect to live a third of her adult life after menopause.
The goal of any menopausal health program is to eliminate the bothersome symptoms of menopause as well as prevent the menopause-related problems -osteoporosis as mentioned before and heart disease. With a proper diet, rich in proteins, and healthy fats; natural supplements and exercise, most of the unpleasant side effects of menopause can be minimized, if not eliminated.
The following herbs and vitamins have shown to help menopause:
Nettle– adding nettle extract powder to your meal is one of the best natural supplements to in cooperate into your health regime. This will prevent osteoporosis. To enhance nettles’ effects, you can mix it with equal quantity of horsetail (Equisetum arvense), which contains silica, another bone strengthener. Suggested dosage is 1 cup of tea two times daily.
Flax seed-it is a good source of lignans, which tend to balance female hormones and alleviating hot flashes. 1 teaspoon of the powder is sprinkled on foods or in hot water-2 x daily.
Vitex doniana: (uchakoro in Igbo): The new leaves and fruits provide remedies for hot flushes, dizziness, vaginal dryness and depression. The leaves may be chewed fresh or squeezed in hot water and drunk.
You can also use the temperate variety –Vitexagnus-castus (chasteberry) to reduce menopause woes. It is available as a capsule, liquid extract and tablet in health stores.
Basil leaf (nchuanwu, effirin)– extracts from this herb may help reduce night sweats due to menopause. Add freshly cut leaves to foods.
Mistletoe– infusion of the leaves in boiled water corrects hormonal imbalance. Take one teacup first thing in the morning and also last at night.
Chickweed: this herb is rich in calcium and can help prevent osteoporosis. Infuse 1 tablespoon in boiled water for 15 minutes, sieve and take two times daily.
Calcium– crucial to get enough to prevent bone loss which is usually a problem once hormone levels drop after menopause.
Vitamin D- this is just as important as calcium for bone health. Without this vitamin your body cannot absorb calcium. Vitamin D is in many foods and vitamins and also in the sun, so get some early morning sun.
Vitamin E– a daily dose of this vitamin can help alleviate symptoms of hot flashes.
Soy products- the isoflavones in soy foods help balance hormone levels and have some estrogenic activity.
Beans – especially black and kidney beans contain phtoestrogens, which mimic estrogen in the body. Including these to your diet will help reduce the woes of menopause. It will greatly benefit women before, during and after menopause.
Passion flower: If your menopause involves stress, try this relaxing herb. This will bring a sense of calm, relieve pains and muscular spasms. 1 teaspoon is to be infused in boiled water for 30 minutes and taken before bedtime and be sure not to exceed recommended dosage. The strength needed will vary from person to person.
Eat fruits and vegetables: plenty of freshly-made juices of fruits and vegetables in season should be included daily in your meal plan.
Avocado: Eat 1 avocado pear at least 3 x a week, preferably at night.
Spices: Include ginger, cinnamon and turmeric in your diets.
Drink plenty of water: this will help you stay hydrated, help prevent drying of skin and the mucous membranes.
Replace your cooking oils with coconut/olive oil.
You may also have to limit or avoid foods and beverages that contain sugar, caffeine and alcohol which may exacerbate your symptoms or trigger hot flushes.
Also reduce foods high in fat and go easy on smoked, salt-cured foods- these foods contain high levels of nitrates which have been linked to cancer. All processed, refined, and denatured foods should be completely eliminated.