Author: Maria Kuzmiak, Wellness Writer
Menopause can be a challenging time in a woman’s life with many troubling physical symptoms. While some women have only a few mild symptoms during this transition, others have many severe symptoms that interfere with their ability to function on a daily basis.
Some of the more common symptoms that women face are hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, vaginal dryness and emotional issues such as irritability, anxiety and depression. Women with many of these symptoms, especially if they are severe, often consult their doctors about starting a course of hormone replacement therapy. But it may not be necessary to take prescription medications to alleviate menopausal symptoms. These natural treatments and adjustments in lifestyle can help a great a deal as well.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Several vitamins and minerals may be needed in greater doses during menopause. For example, calcium and vitamin D are important to help replenish the bone that many women lose during this time. Magnesium helps the body absorb calcium, and it also helps to alleviate anxiety. B complex vitamins are also helpful in reducing anxiety, and Vitamin E is said to help reduce the severity of hot flashes.
There are a number of herbs recommended for women during menopause. Black cohosh, an herb with plant-based estrogen, is one of the best known herbs for balancing hormones and improving many symptoms associated with menopause. Many women have used black cohosh successfully for hot flashes, vaginal dryness and mood swings.
Another herb that is a popular choice for menopause is wild yam. This herb is said to contain natural progesterone, which may be even more important than estrogen in balancing hormones and alleviating menopausal symptoms. Dong Quai, a general tonic for the female reproductive system, is also useful. Pasque flower is a nervous system tonic that can also help tone the female reproductive system.
Eating for Estrogen
One of the reasons that women experience bothersome symptoms during menopause is that estrogen levels decline. There are foods that can help to replenish estrogen naturally by providing phytoestrogens (estrogen from plants) known as isoflavones. These substances are found in flax seeds, fermented soy products like tempeh and miso, peanuts, celery, parsley, alfalfa and a number of beans, including chick peas, mung beans, split peas and navy beans.
Menopause often brings an increase in feelings of anxiety. In addition, anxiety can exacerbate symptoms like hot flashes and other physical symptoms. You can learn to calm both mind and body with simple meditation exercises, particularly those that focus on taking deep, relaxing breaths. If you’re new to meditation, find a class or workshop at a local community school or yoga studio or look for a CD or DVD that can introduce you to the basics of this effective ancient practice.
Menopause does not have to be a difficult time. Balancing hormones through diet and supplements and keeping stress levels as low as possible can help to ease the transition for most women. Herbal remedies are usually very effective as well. If you have concerns about your particular symptoms, talk to your doctor.