Menopause

& Natural Herbs

Menopause ~ Vitamins

Helping Yourself:

To ease hot flashes;

Dress in layers so you can remove some clothing when you begin to feel warm.

Avoid foods and beverages known to trigger hot flashes, such as alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods and sugar.

Practice stress management techniques.

Exercise to improve circulation.

Maintain a healthy weight.

If you smoke....quit!

To reduce the risk of osteoporosis;

Get enough vitamin-D3.

Exercise regularly.

Weight bearing exercises such as walking are best for strengthening bones.

To reduce the risk of heart disease;

Get your blood and cholesterol levels checked regularly.

Eat a nutritious, heart healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats and high in fiber.

Be active.

Now, there is a lot of confusion surrounding this issue.

The term "menopause" actually refers to the point in time when a woman has not had a menstrual period in 12 consecutive months.

However many women refer to the process that leads up to their last period as "going through menopause".

Medically that period is called perimenopause.

During perimenopause. a woman's ovaries gradually reduce the amount of estrogen they produce, which causes menstrual periods to become irregular and, eventually cease.

Some women have their ovaries removed surgically, creating a condition known as "surgical menopause, which eliminates perimenopause and result s in an abrupt stop in menstrual periods.

So, what are the symptoms?

A few lucky women (about 15%) have no symptoms other than irregular menstrual periods.

Most women though, have at least some symptoms.

Generally, the symptoms fade over time and disappear completely once a woman reaches the point of menopause.

The most common symptoms include:

Hot Flashes:

These sudden changes in body temperature arrive without warning and are often accompanied by heavy sweating and generally last a few minutes.

When they occur during sleep, they're called "night sweats" and they can be severe enough to awaken some women and make it impossible to get a good night's rest.

Vaginal Changes:

Dryness, itching and irritation sometimes occur and may interfere with sexual intercourse.

Urinary Tract Problems:

Some women become more likely to develop infections or bladder control problems.

Other Physical Changes:

Some women experience palpitations, mild dizziness, tingling sensations, fatigue, restlessness, constipation or aching bones.

Others gain weight or find that their breasts become smaller.

Emotional Changes:

Mood swings, irritability, anxiety, memory loss, and other emotional symptoms can result from changing hormone levels, lack of sleep (often the result of night sweats), or a variety of other factors.

Some of the changes that occur during perimenopause have a permanent effect on a woman's health.

For example;

Heart:

The loss of estrogen raises the level of LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides in a woman's blood, increasing the risk of developing heart problems.

Bones:

As the level of estrogen in a woman's body declines, her bones may become weaker and brittle, increasing her risk of developing osteoporosis.

Sex Organs:

The wall of the vagina may become thinner and drier, making intercourse painful and increasing the risk of infection and her breasts may become smaller and sag.

Skin:

Because the skin is likely to become drier and lose it's elasticity, it may lose it's youthful appearance.

Natural Treatment Options:

At menopause, the usual orderly ebb and flow of estrogen and progesterone becomes erratic, which is the reason for the symptoms many women experience.

If you're searching for hormone balancing herbs, we recommend that you choose one of the following.

Although we don't understand exactly how they work, they act on the pituitary gland, ovaries, and estrogen dependent cells in a way that has been shown in clinical trials to reduce menopausal symptoms.

Losing Weight after Menopause

Losing weight after menopause can be difficult, but a few simple steps can make a big difference for many women, gaining weight after menopause seems inevitable, and losing it nearly impossible.

However, a new study from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that a few simple changes can make a big difference.

Researchers followed 465 overweight and obese postmenopausal women for four years to evaluate weight-loss strategies that worked best.

The women were divided into two groups.

Those in one group underwent intensive nutrition and exercise counseling, while those in the other group received a more general weight loss program.

All of the women kept a daily record of what they ate, and where they ate, for the duration of the study.

When the investigators reviewed all the factors that made the difference for the women who successfully lost weight, they found that the winning strategy was replacing meats and cheeses in the diet with fruits and vegetables.

Eating fewer desserts and drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages also proved important.

The effect of substituting fruit and vegetables wasn’t noticeable at the study’s six-month mark but had the greatest impact on sustained weight loss and prevention of weight gain over the long-term, the researchers reported.

The study was published in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Our thought?

Emphasizing fruits and vegetables and minimizing meats and cheese in your diet is a strategy we have long recommended, whether or not you're overweight.

An anti-inflammatory diet (which is not focused on weight loss but can help you shed unwanted pounds) calls for an abundance of fruits and vegetables and for decreasing consumption of animal protein other than fish and high quality, natural cheese and yogurt.

This "eating plan" provides steady energy as well as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, dietary fiber and protective phytonutrients.

And, as the Pittsburgh study showed, you can help yourself lose weight when your plate is full of fresh produce.

**** Menopause & Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa).

This is traditionally known as the menopause herb and is one that is considered to be a hormonal treasure chest.

It's been shown to be effective at reducing the severity of hot flashes, memory loss, depression, and mood swings and to improve the thickness and elasticity of vaginal tissues.

Even The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in Washington, DC, agrees that black cohosh may be an alternative for women who choose not to take HRT.

How much to take:

Dried root: two 500-mg tablets or capsules.

Dry standardized extract: Follow package instructions for each dose equivalent to 1.5 mg of 27-deoxyacteine.

Tincture 1:5: 1 teaspoon.

Tincture 1:1: 20 drops.

How often: Three times a day.

How long: Take for at least 3 months to determine if it's working for you.

It can be taken as long as you need it.

Cautions: Occasionally causes mild digestive complaints when first taken.

Do not use black cohosh in combination with HRT.

Women with estrogen dependent cancer, including breast, cervical, uterine, and ovarian, should definitely consult their physician before taking it.

**** Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus).

Chasteberry is probably better known as an herb for smoothing out the hormonal ups and downs of the menstrual cycle and PMS.

How much to take:

Fruit: two 500-mg tablets.

Dry standardized extract: Follow package instructions for each dose equivalent to 250 mg of 4:1 chasteberry extract.

Tincture 1:5: 60 drops.

Tincture 1:1: 12 drops.

How often: Two times a day.

How long: Take the herb for at least 3 months to determine if it's working for you; it can take several months to have the full effect.

Despite taking black cohosh or chasteberry, some women may still have hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, or even heart palpitations.

It's appropriate to take another step, which is to choose an herb that specifically targets a breakthrough symptom.

If it's specific symptoms that are bothering you, here are some suggestions that may offer relief.

**** Sage ~ for Hot Flashes.

Add common garden-variety sage (the cooking herb) to your program if hot flashes and night sweats persist.

It's traditionally used to dry up secretions, including excessive perspiration.

How much to take:

As a tea: 1/2 teaspoon of dried leaf in 1 cup of boiling water.

Tincture 1:1: 20 drops.

How often: Three times a day.

How long: Sage works right away, so use it as needed.

**** Valerian ~ for Insomnia.

Interrupted sleep patterns are very common at menopause.

Some women have a hard time falling asleep, wake up frequently, or have difficulty falling back to sleep once awakened.

My grandmother tells me her favorite all purpose herbal insomnia remedy is valerian, which has been shown to help you drift into a deep sleep and stay there.

How much to take:

Tincture 1:5: 1 teaspoon in water or juice.

How often: 1/2 hour before bed.

How long: Valerian works immediately.

It can be used for as long as is required to improve sleep patterns.

Cautions: Do not drive after taking valerian, because it causes drowsiness.

Valerian should not be used while taking sleep medications or tranquilizers.

**** St. John's Wort ~ for Depression and/or Mood Swings.

If the blues or mood swings persist, try St. John's wort.

It's helpful for treating mild to moderate depression.

How much to take: Dried herb: two 500-mg tablets

Dry standardized extract: one 300 mg. tablet standardized to 0.3 percent hypericin.

Tincture 1:5: 1 teaspoon.

Tincture 1:1: 20 drops.

How often: Three times a day.

How long: You must use this herb continually for 4 to 8 weeks for it to be effective.

It can be used long term.

Cautions: Do not use St. John's wort with prescription anti-depressants.

It can cause sensitivity to the sun, so use the strongest sunblock available, and re-apply it often.

If your depression worsens, see your health care provider.

**** Menopause & Hawthorn ~ for Heart Palpitations.

Some women experience fluttering or racing sensations of the heart, or palpitations.

While benign, they can be alarming the first time you experience them.

(Check with your health care practitioner to be sure it's nothing more serious.)

A classic European women's herb called hawthorn has been used for centuries.

It acts on the nervous system to calm palpitations.

How much to take:

Tincture 1:1: 20 drops in water or juice, or follow label directions.

How often: Three times a day.

How long: Hawthorn is safe to use long term.

Caution:If you're using any kind of cardiac medication, consult your physician before taking hawthorn.

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