A guest post by British menopause expert Eileen Durward:
Herbs have been used since antiquity for treating the many ailments that we have experienced through the passing of time. Herbs that have worked well have travelled with us through the ages and many of the natural medicines we use today have a long medicinal history.
However, one area of health that has no ‘herbal history’ as such is the menopause. Why? You may ask, as menopause must, surely, have been around in ancient times too.
Well there are two main reasons. One is that many women would not have lived to menopausal age, as life expectancy was much shorter.
Secondly those women in cultures where life was extended tended to be healthy, and if they reached menopausal age, they very rarely experienced any symptoms worth noting.
But today, women in the west seem beset with major trials and tribulations during the menopause, and many, finding that they don’t want to go down the chemical route, have demanded natural remedies from those that provide them.
Most information regarding the modern phenomena of menopausal symptoms stems from after the 2nd World War. A sudden upsurge of convenience foods, factory farming and changes to women’s role in society has all combined to unbalance and stress the female body’s response to hormonal change. Commonly experienced symptoms now include hot flushes and sweats, low mood, aching joints and muscles, loss of libido, memory decline, loss of confidence and many more.
Today there is a large choice of natural remedies available to women to help them through the menopause, ranging from those that treat sweats to those that actively balance the hormones. Many of these herbs and supplements have now been the subject of worldwide research to ‘prove’ that they really can help.
Sage is thought to work on balancing the hypothalamus, thus reducing hot flushes and night sweats.
Black Cohosh contains natural oestrogens, called phyto-oestrogens, which help to balance the body’s shortfall of oestrogen, thus reducing general menopausal symptoms
Red Clover is another phyto-oestrogenic remedy.
Maca and Eleutherococcus
These herbs are known as adaptogens and work on supporting and balancing adrenal function, which, in turn can help to reduce menopausal symptoms.
These are combinations of plant extracts that contain phyto-oestrogens.
Many companies now offer combinations of these herbs and supplements to help address the many menopausal symptoms.
Because of the nature of the Modern Menopause, many women find that just taking a remedy on its own doesn’t always help enough. It is very important to look after one’s self by having a healthy diet full of natural, fresh foods (especially magnesium rich ones); drinking plenty of plain water, as dehydration is a major cause of flushing; and dealing with stress itself by making space for relaxation and ‘me time’. Combining these strategies with an appropriate herb can help women sail through their menopause, happy and healthy.
Please note that not all herbs and supplements are suitable for everyone through the menopause, especially if you are on existing medication. It’s advisable to discuss using herbs with a practitioner or your healthcare professional before use.
For more tips & advice on the Menopause, plus the chance to speak to Menopause Expert Eileen Durward live, visit the A.Vogel Menopause page for more details.
Eileen Durward has worked in the health industry for over 20 years, including work in vegan catering and health store retailing. For the past 15 years she has worked in the Education Department at A Vogel, lecturing and playing a key role in running the Helpline.
Her public talks are always popular, due to her wealth of knowledge and experience. Eileen’s interests include keeping up to date with research on complementary medicine, and she is also qualified as a Reiki Master Teacher. She specializes in the menopause, having both her own experience to inform her and that of hundreds of woman who ring the helpline.