How to Manage Perimenopause and Menopause Naturally
Women experience a variety of symptoms during the years of perimenopause and menopause. Although some lucky women seem to sail right through with no issues at all, for others of us, the “pre-change” change can be very unpredictable and uncomfortable.
Many women seek out natural ways to manage their symptoms before resorting to artificial hormone replacement therapies and other treatments that tend to have unpleasant side effects. Because there are so many different symptoms coupled with varying levels of intensity; it can take some trial and error to find solutions that work for you. What follows are a list of natural remedies that women have reported success with and how they work in the body.
This information should help you better understand natural alternatives that are likely to work the best for your individual experience.
Lifestyle Changes to Help with Perimenopause and Menopause
- Regular exercise of course has a litany of health benefits, but it also helps moderate the hormone surges, mood swings and irritability that often accompany peri and menopause. Regular, moderate exercise helps keep the weight gain to a minimum and also releases feel-good endorphins that combat anxiety and stress.
- Strength training is a great practice for older women because it helps strengthen bone as well as muscles. As we move through menopause, bone density reduction can become an issue. Flexibility exercises like Yoga can also be beneficial to prevent falls later on.
- Perimenopause for me resulted in a lot “brain fog” - forgetting why I walked in a room, being scattered, a need to keep a to-do list with me so I wouldn't neglect tasks. I found that certain supplements helped (see below) but also taking time several minutes out of the day to exercise the brain. This helps keep you sharp and reduces frustration. Hormone surges during pregnancy made me a “dingbat” also – so exercising the brain is definitely something that can counteract that particular side effect.
- Along with peri and menopause tends to come the midlife crisis that can lead to depression, regrets, questioning yourself etc. Take time to see to your emotional and mental health. Writing in a journal can help or taking time to talk things out with an objective third party that can assure you what you are feeling and thinking is indeed “normal” at this stage of life.
Supplements and Herbal Remedies for Perimenopause and Menopause
There are several supplements and herbals that can be used to manage the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.
Herbs like chickweed, dandelion greens, and nettle are high in calcium which can prevent bone loss.
If you deal with insomnia hops, valerian root and chamomile are good choices to promote restorative sleep. Sip a cup of chamomile tea in the evening and it may help you fall asleep faster.
Dong Quai is one of the best herbs for menopause/perimenopause. This herb is widely used in China, Korea and Japan and is actually known as “the female ginseng”. It is a phytoestrogen with the ability to moderate estrogen levels in the body, increasing estrogen if it's too low and reducing levels when they are too high. It is also a natural diuretic, painkiller, mild sedative and anti-depressant. This herb is a top pick if you need to manage a variety of symptoms at once. It can help with the obvious hormonal fluctuations, but also helps with anxiety, depression, bloating, cramps and other mild discomfort and insomnia.
Maca Root is another powerful, multi-purpose herbal recommended by naturopaths. It regulates and normalizes estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels. In addition it helps restore “the mood” if your love life is lacking and it fights hot flashes too! If that wasn't enough, Maca is also a natural anti-depressant used by many women to combat the mood swings associated with PMS. Maca can also help with anxiety and irritability. It is sold in powders that can be added to smoothies or you can find it in capsules.
Red Clover is another good choice because it also provides a variety of health benefits. It acts as a phytoestrogen also to balance hormone levels and it has also been reported to help a great deal with night sweats and hot flashes.
Black Cohosh is a potent herb that needs to be used with some caution, particularly if you might be pregnant. It stimulates uterine contractions and although the risk is slight, it could potentially trigger a miscarriage. This herb helps fight inflammation of the uterus and ovaries. In menopausal women, it has been shown to help with hot flashes, anxiety, depression and mood swings.
Wild Yam is a natural precursor to progesterone. Estrogen dominance is common in perimenopausal and menopausal women and is what leads to many of the unpleasant symptoms like hot flashes, dryness, low libido and mood swings. Encouraging the production of more progesterone is a natural way to restore balance. I personally have used a wild yam progesterone cream before with some success.
In addition to these herbal supplements it's also important to ensure that you are getting the nutrients your body requires through your diet. If not you may need to supplement as necessary.
- DHEA increases memory function and reduces stress.
- Essential Fatty Acids are vital for estrogen production
- B Complex Vitamins improve circulation, aid cellular function, fight stress in the body, reduce water retention and help protect against many diseases. * I take a B complex sublingual vitamin every single day without fail. If I could only take one supplement this would be the one I would keep *
- Calcium and Magnesium should be combined as each aid in the absorption of the other. Magnesium also helps relax you and can fight insomnia. Both calcium and magnesium are needed for strong bones.
- Selenium is a trace mineral that should be easy enough to get through your diet (brazil nuts) it is essential for hormone regulation in the body.
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© 2013 Christin Sander
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