Herbal Menopause Remedies?

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) in the garden at black background.

If you have looked online lately for a natural menopause remedy you have no doubt found plenty of remedies and little info about them. Most brands depend on the prior standing or familiarity of an herb to make the sale. There appears to be very little concrete information on what to expect in terms of results, and virtually no information about side effects and safety issues when taking herbs.

Let’s begin

Since you’re putting it on your body, you probably need to know a little bit about how a specific herbal remedy works. Let’s investigate that. Menopause complaints span a huge array of symptoms involving many areas of the body. What they all have in common is the cause. Menopause related complaints or symptoms are attributable to falling hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone. Many of the herbs which are advertised as useful for relief of menopause complaints are basically herb sources of estrogens. They’ve been known as phytoestrogens (plant-estrogens) from the scientific community.

By minding dropping estrogen levels with plant such as estrogens, menopause symptoms are relieved. Some common herbs (and foods) that contain phytoestrogens are red clover, soy, flaxseed and Siberian rhubarb root extract. Alternately, some herbs have a progesterone like molecule. The one which stands out is wild Mexican yam. Wild Mexican yam comprises a chemical diosgenin, which is extremely similar to progesterone.

Good to know

Different medical researchers maintain both directions-that the human body can, and can’t convert diosgenin into progesterone. So the reported advantages of wild Mexican yam could be due to the direct impact on human tissues. Or it might be caused by the fact it is converted bio-chemically by the body into progesterone, thereby restoring optimal progesterone levels as they fall during perimenopause. Other herbs and nutrition frequently used for relief of menopause related complaints do not fall into either of the above categories. In other words, they do not mimic the action of either progesterone or estrogen, yet can have beneficial results.

One example is vitex or chasteberry. This herb was used more for relief of premenstrual complaints, and especially for relief of breast pain related to monthly cycling. How chasteberry achieves its advantage isn’t fully understood, but it’s been proven to alter levels of prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone that regulates milk production in the breast. Another herb that is often used by menopausal women is black cohosh. It was originally thought that black cohosh contained phytoestrogens. This has been refuted by recent research that indicates that black cohosh impacts serotonin receptors in the brain.

Hormones

Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter that’s sometimes known as the “tranquilizing” brain neurotransmitter. Many popular prescriptive anti-depressants (the SSRI’s) function by changing serotonin levels in the brain. Research indicates that black cohosh might have some benefit for osteoporosis. Research also indicates that black cohosh doesn’t have any advantage for relief of menopause associated with hot flashes. Another herb that finds its way to herbal menopause treatments is St. John’s Wort.

The herb has a well deserved reputation for helping relieve mild depression. Since depression may be associated with premenopause and menopause, some makers of menopause herbal remedies include it in conjunction formula’s. How St. John’s Wort works isn’t clearly understood. It’s thought to benefit brain levels of serotonin in precisely the identical manner as some prescriptive anti-depressants (the SSRI’s) such as Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa and Prozac.

There are a range of different issues to be considered with respect to herbal menopause treatments. Herbs are effective due to specific active ingredients inside the plant. These active ingredients can change based on where the plant is increased, the growth conditions, once the herb is harvested, etc.. A quality herbal product exhibits the amount of active ingredients in the herb. The bottle label should refer to “standardized” amounts of important ingredients from the herbs used. Herb purity is another important matter.

Conclusion

Herbs harvested overseas may be contaminated with toxins, such as bacteria, heavy metals or pollutants. A quality herbal manufacturer tests all components used for contaminants. Finally, before taking any herbal item, you should be clear on what side effects to expect. Some herbs generally have side effects while others don’t. If you’re taking an herb which may produce unwanted effects, it’s important to be aware of what they are. If you encounter them, you need to have the ability to recognize they are due to the herb you’re taking, so you can stop.