For some women, menopause is like peak hour traffic – a little inconvenient, at times frustrating, but something that has to be tolerated. However for other women menopause hits like a head-on with a freight train – it stops them in their tracks and makes the simplest activity out of the question.
For the unfortunate women in the latter category, it often feels like hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the only answer, and for some women it works well. However for many of us, the thought of taking synthetic, pharmaceutical hormones to manipulate what is, at the end of the day a perfectly natural process, is not a welcome one.
Is there a natural way to manage menopause symptoms?
The answer depends on you – like all things to do with health, no two individuals are the same. A natural treatment that works for one woman may not work as well for the next, however there are natural alternatives out there that some women swear by. We’ve done a little research and have come up with four options that seem to show the most promise.
So if you’re not keen on diving straight into synthetic hormone pool just yet, it may be worth giving the following a try first:
Eat these kinds of vegetables
Several studies have found that indole-3- carbinal, found in cruciferous vegetables, metabolises in the body to produce a substance (diindolylmethane) that helps to regulate estrogen. Menopausal symptoms occur because of the sharp decrease of estradiol (estrogen steroid hormone) and progesterone produced by the ovaries, so increasing production of these hormones may help alleviate symptoms.
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. Include lots of these veggies in your diet daily – it’s certainly not going to hurt.
Give Maca a go
Native to the Andes region of Peru, Maca, also a cruciferous vegetable, has been used by Peruvians for thousands of years to treat infertility, menstrual problems and other hormonal imbalances. There’s a lovely story about how Maca saved a settlement of European colonists in Peru. The story goes that the small community was struggling; their livestock were not producing offspring. The local indigenous Peruvians told the colonists to crush the root of the Maca plant and add it to the animal’s feed. They did this and within the year their fields were full of new baby calves and the settlement was saved.
There’s no documentary evidence to back up this old story however there have been numerous small trials that show by regulating hormone production, Maca root powder is effective in the treatment of infertility as well as menopausal symptoms.
Try Chaste-tree berry
The Chaste-tree berry (Vitex agnus castus) comes from a shrub native to the Mediterranen region and western Asia and has been used in folk medicine to treat hormonal imbalances for thousands of years. One study, published by Tehran University of Medical Sciences (HAYAT) in 2006 found that women taking Chaste-tree berry supplements reported a 50% reduction in hot flashes as well as night sweats. Other small studies in the U.S. also point to Chaste-tree berry’s effectiveness in reducing menopausal symptoms.
Derived from soy beans and yams, bioidentical hormones are structurally identical to the hormones produced by the human body and therefore easy for the body to recognise and assimilate. Regular synthetic, pharmaceutical hormones on the other hand are made through a process of chemical synthesis and the hormones produced differ in structure from naturally occurring hormones. It’s theorised that the difference in structures is why bioidentical hormones have far less side effects and produce better results than pharmaceutical hormones.
In Australia, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can be custom-made for the individual by fully qualified compounding pharmacists, who follow a script provided by an integrative doctor.
For more information on more natural ways to manage menopause symptoms, including bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, talk to one of the friendly team at National Custom Compounding by calling 1300 731 755 or email [email protected].