Menopause for many women does not just ‘happen’ in their late forties or early fifties. There can be many years previous to the periods stopping during which the body undergoes slow and subtle changes to the hormonal balance.

Many women are unaware of the great range of symptoms that menopause as well as
premenopausal changes can bring. Also unaware that their body continues to ‘cycle’ long after periods have ceased and symptoms may continue for some time.

The need for intervention either herbal and/or orthodox tends to be greater in women who are stressed in any way. This may simply mean you are on your own, working long hours or in a difficult relationship. Often women do not associate their life style with ‘stress’ and are surprised when their body does not want to cope with their ‘normal’ lifestyle! Just remember that you are not abnormal and that help is available.

‘Hot flushes’ are only one of many possible symptoms. Other symptoms are irritability, mood swings,nervousness and anxiety and an inability to cope with stresses that previously were no problem, depression for no reason, unexplained fatigue, vertigo, headaches, insomnia, palpitations, vaginal dryness and itching, poor concentration and memory, confusion, debilitating muscle and joint aches, breast tenderness, a crawling sensation under the skin, a very
red itchy rash under or between the thighs, increased hair on upper lip or chin, loss of hair in the head, obesity, bloating, rapidly drying skin, loss of libido or sometimes uncontrollably increased libido and a tendency toward osteoporosis.
Quite a list! Quite enough to make even the most normal of people feel somewhat abnormal!

It is possible to relieve many of these symptoms using herbal remedies, chosen depending on the particular set of symptoms that a woman is displaying.

Herbs such as Black Cohosh, Wild yam, Paeonia and Chaste tree (Vitex agnus Castus) are brilliant when premenopausal with periods becoming irregular. They may be combined with St John’s Wort and/or Siberian Ginseng if moods and/or depression are becoming a problem.

I have also found the addition of magnesium to help in relieving hot flushes in some cases. However I have also noted that not all types of magnesium appear to work on an equal basis.

The best results I have seen have been with women using Magnesium Glycinate. This is a highly absorbable form of magnesium. If trying this method please be
sure to also take liquid minerals as well, as although extra magnesium is often indicated post menopause it should ideally be taken in conjunction with other minerals to avoid an imbalance of minerals occurring.

Deficiency of magnesium in post menopausal women has been shown to impair glucose tolerance, be one possible cause of heart arrhythmias and is essential for bone and cardiovascular health.

Evening Primrose Oil, at a dose of 3000-6000mg daily, is also excellent to relieve the tendency toward anxiety, depression, tearfulness etc and also for any breast tenderness. EPO dosage will fluctuate depending on at what stage of your cycle you are at: i.e. you may need a higher dose from mid-cycle (ovulation) until end-cycle (menstruation). During this time, if needed, take as much as 3000mg one to three times daily.
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In addition Wild yam and/or Corydalis can be used for excessive pain, Dong Quai for
excessive clotting, Wild Yam and Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) for cramping,
Trillium or Shepherd’s purse for excessive bleeding and Sage can be very useful for relieving ‘wet’ hot flushes, however should not be used excessively.

Black Cohosh is often more applicable when post menopausal, as are Soy based products.
Black Cohosh is a woodland plant native to North America and is one of the most popular natural approaches to menopause. It is thought to suppress secretion of LH which in turn can reduce hot flushes. Black Cohosh also has a mild relaxing and anti-inflammatory effect.
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Most ‘hormonal’ type herbs work via the pituitary gland and help to balance and stimulate the body, they do not actually contain ‘hormones’ in the same way as orthodox hormonal medications do.

Wild Yam in particular has been incorrectly accredited with having progesterogenic activity. Diosgenin, is not metabolised in the body to produce progesterone, in fact it may actually suppress progesterone and have in fact mild oestrogenic effect.
See page on ‘Wild Yam cream’.

As your body continues to ‘cycle’ long after periods have ceased, herbs may be needed for some time.

Keep sugar and refined food intake to absolutely nil as these foods will aggravate inflammatory and congestive symptoms such as headache, irritability and breast tenderness.

Extra B vitamins are also often needed as are minerals, particularly zinc, magnesium, chromium and iodine.

Increasing the amount of exercise you get would greatly help to improve the feelings of well being and prevent feelings of depression, as exercise increases Serotonin and endorphin levels.

Also helps prevent the subtle increase in weight that plagues many women!

If you do not experience sufficient improvement in your condition then it may be a good idea to think about using a bio-identical progesterone cream (on prescription from your GP).
Your GP should also at this time do a full hormonal blood screen including a check for progesterone levels. Progesterone creams should be used 3 weeks on and one off with regular checks made on your body’s progesterone level.

Combining the use of the cream with the use of herbs works very well, generally you would expect to need less cream and the herbs to eventually be able to be used on their own.