Natural Ways To Manage Menopause
Feeling that Hormone Replacement Therapy could increase my risk of breast cancer, I looked for natural ways of treating menopause. These remedies helped get me through a very tough time in my life. I hope they help you too!
When I was in my early 40's I started to go through peri-menopause, and it was happening at a very early age. My doctor refused to draw blood and check my hormone levels, so I was left to my own devices to deal with these symptoms.
If you have never experienced a hot flash, it is can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. I felt like my body was on fire from the chest up. And there wasn't any warning either, they would just happen at the least convenient times. I well remember stepping outside during the cold winter months for some relief. And then a few minutes later, it was over.
Even worse were the night sweats that I had to deal with. I would wake up in the middle of the night just drenched, but when the hot flash was over I would get chilled because my nightgown was damp from sweating. This meant having to change out of my nightgown, sometimes more than once each evening. You can imagine how this would make for a fitfull nights sleep.
What to do? Prescription hormone replacement is of course an option for some women, that is if you can convince your doctor you are in this stage of life. Since it happened to me so early, my gynecologist told me I was "too young" and didn't take my complaints seriously. If you don't have health insurance, being able to afford prescription hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be a challenge, it's not cheap.
The internet is a wonderful source of information for those seeking a natural solution, and I found many wonderful websites with excellent, well researched articles on treating menopause naturally. For me, it came down to using a combination of creams and herbals, such as black cohosh and progesterone or soy creams.
I kept hearing and reading about the benefits of adding black cohosh to the diet, but not just any black cohosh. I actually tried some black cohosh that did nothing for me, because they weren't strong enough or because they were not standardized.
Standardized Black Cohosh
When taking an herbal product that is standardized, I believe I am getting the same dosage each time. I believe these are of higher quality than non-standardized herbal preparations. The women to women website explains that "If you decide to use black cohosh on its own, however, for maximal therapeutic benefit, the product label should state that it’s standardized to a minimum of 2% total triterpene glycosides". I actually had a hard time finding black cohosh capsules that met this criteria, but Planetary Herbals does make a Standardized Black Cohosh Extract with 2.5% triterpene glycoside.
Black Cohosh helps balance a womens hormone levels, mimicing the missing estrogen since this is the hormone that drops off during peri-menopause and menopause, (and is responsible for those dreaded hot flashes). I found that taking 40 milligrams twice a day worked well for me, and the Planetary Herbals makes their black cohosh in 40 mg form.
Wild yams contain soy, and soy isoflavones have been shown to help with lower estrogen levels during menopause, thus lessening the symptoms of menopause. I found it interesting that the Emerita brand of creams contained all natural ingredients, and relief was found using both their Phytoestrogen Cream (peri-menopause) and Pro-Gest Cream (menopause).
The Emerita Phytoestrogen Cream contains beneficial ingredients such as black cohosh root extract, clover flower extract, aloe vera, jojoba seed oil, sesame seed oil, vitamin E, and panax ginseng root extract. Each one fourth teaspoon of the Emerita Pro-Gest Cream contains around 20 milligrams of USP progesterone, vitamin E, aloe vera, safflower seed oil, and sweet almond oil.
I used these creams on a daily basis, rubbing them into my thighs and abdomen. They are moisturizing creams that absorb well and aren't too greasy. I didn't care for the scent of either of them, but I will say they had a nicer odor than more expensive creams that I also tried. I really became weary of using these creams every evening, but I can tell you they really did help me get a better nights sleep. They not only balance the estrogen, but they also balance the progesterone, and progesterone is a hormone that does help you sleep better.
Search for Emerita Pro-Gest, Emerita Phytoestrogen Cream, and Planetary Herbals Standardized Black Cohosh.
Excellent Reading Material
Search for Dr. Lee What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause and Dr. Christine Northrup The Wisdom of Menopause.
Educating yourself is the key to treating any kind of health challenge. A friend told me about Dr. Lee's book titled What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. I was quick to buy myself a copy, and found it a wonderful resource, answering many of my questions about traditional HRT versus naturopathic remedies.
After seeing Doctor Christiane Northrup on a television talk show, I was convinced she knew enough about this delicate issue that I also purchased her book The Wisdom of Menopause.
After reading both of these books, I made the decision to treat my symptoms naturally, rather that go on HRT. Oh, I did try HRT for a short period of time, after my doctor finally ordered the blood tests showing my estrogen levels were extremely low, but I never felt comfortable on it. HRT itself is a very controversial subject. The old standby drug Premarin is still on the market, but this comes from pregnant mare urine!
I was not about to take a product such as that, and ended up getting compounded HRT from a pharmacy 25 miles away. I became weary of the drive and decided to treat my symptoms the natural route. Now that I have bone loss, I am once again on a very low dose of estrogen and taking progesterone capsules each day, but the dosages are low enough that I am not concerned about the dangers of breast cancer, something linked to hormone replacement therapy, and something all women need to consider and weigh out the pros and cons.
Going through menopause was not pleasant, but I honestly did find relief from the creams and supplements that I took daily. I felt good about treating my condition naturally, and these products helped tremendously. I would recommend these to any women entering this stage of life.
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