If you’re like many women, going through menopause can be a bumpy ride. But it is also a time of change, and of joy, freedom, and self-discovery. You may be considering going through the process without hormone replacement medication such as estrogen or progesterone patches. There are many good reasons why you would opt out of such drug treatments, not the least of which include side effects such as breast tenderness, headaches, gastrointestinal discomfort, and auto-immune disorder, as well as the increase in risk for breast or ovarian cancers and cysts. When you look at it this way, natural seems like a better way already.
Then come the real symptoms you experience during the menopause transition. Women have always led diverse and full lives, and for thousands of years before the advent of medication, many women tried natural menopause supplements to find relief from the mood swings, weight gain, hair loss, loss of libido, and hot flashes. Popular treatments have ranged from relatively harmless herbal menopause supplements to somewhat bizarre solutions such as drinking the urine of a pregnant mare. While these are more natural than hormone patches, the question remains: Do alternative treatments really work as well as hormone-replacement to tame some of the raging symptoms of menopause?
The answer is a resounding, That Depends. Taken in the early transition phase, called perimenopause, herbal menopause supplements such as Amberen will help your body increase its own natural hormone production, which can be very helpful for alleviating hot flashes, menopause weight gain, and night sweats, and without the side effects that hormone-replacement comes with. However, these types of supplements need to be started in the early or middle stages of menopause while hormone levels are still high enough to be stimulated, otherwise they won’t be much help for you. Black cohosh, another herbal form of stimulation, has worked for many in terms of providing solid relief, yet many have had allergic reactions to this strong herbal supplement, and contamination with heavy metals has been reported when purchases were made from unreliable sources. Plus, it is a powerful stimulant and, as for many other herbal or alternative remedies, there are no official recommendations for dosage and duration.
The ultimate recommendation to alleviate symptoms is exercise, which is universally approved by doctors and women alike. Anything, including yoga, weights, jogging, dance, even just walking to get your heart rate up, will help you a lot. Plus, though you’ve heard it before, quitting smoking will also be of great help to your body during this sensitive transition, since smoking contributes to the severity and duration of symptoms, especially night sweats. After that, if you want to try herbal menopause supplements, you should start your treatment early in the process, and buy only from a trusted source. Your doctor or health practitioner can point you in the right direction, as well as discuss what herbal menopause supplements might be right for you based on your health history and what other medications or supplements you are currently taking.