Hormone related problems are a common sight for many herbalists, and the most common symptom seen is menopausal hot flushes.
Herbs have been used for hundreds of years to help women through all stages of life, but in the 21st Century more and more women are looking to alternatives to help relieve their menopausal symptoms.
Most women will experience the menopause between the ages of 40 and 52 years. During the menopause, ovarian hormone levels decline, leading not just hot flushes but also loss of confidence, nervousness and mood swings. Symptoms can begin before the loss of a regular period, often presenting as an increase in pre-menstrual symptoms.
Following an article in the Lancet in February this year stating the link between Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) use and ovarian cancer, more and more women are looking to herbs.
A research study published in the Oxford Journal for Family Practice in 2007 found that herbal medicine could significantly reduce the menopausal symptoms.
Herbs are often chosen because they can support the hormonal and nervous systems, reducing symptoms and helping to balance fluctuating hormone levels.
Trifolium pratense (red clover) is another common herb used in the menopause. The flower and leaves of red clover contain phyto oestrogens, which can be used to improve the hormonal status within the body, by providing the starting point for manufacturing its own hormones.
Salvia officinalis (common garden sage), has been found to be effective in reducing excess sweating, hot flushes and night sweats in menopausal women. Using sage tea to this effect is a traditional remedy but a study in 2011 confirmed its efficacy. If you would like to try this remedy for yourself at home, you can use either dried or fresh leaves of common sage. Take a small handful of fresh leaves or 1-2 tsp of dried leaves, add to a cup of hot water, allow to steep for 10 – 15 minutes. Leave to go completely cold, strain and drink.
Cimicifuga racemosa (black cohosh) is another herb often associated with reducing menopausal symptoms. The roots of black cohosh have been used for many years traditionally, but the research on its effectiveness for menopausal symptoms is mixed. It appears that it works for some women but not always for all women.
Soy is often mentioned as a way of improving the hormone balance within the body during menopause because it contains phyto oestrogens. This is confirmed when looking at the health statistics across the world. Countries that consumed a high amount of natural phyto oestrogens in their diet had not only lower rates of cancer but also a very low incidence of menopausal symptoms.
If you are taking any medication or have other health problems it is important to seek professional advice from a medical herbalist before taking herbal medicine. To find your nearest medical herbalist visit www.nimh.org.
Blog published in Thrive Magazine.