Medical herbalist Nicola Parker explains how herbal remedies can help with the menopause.
Symptoms including poor concentration, hot flushes, sweats,irritability, changes in libido and low energy.
Menopause starts as our periods stop and levels of natural oestrogen fall.
More and more frequently women are turning away from hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and looking to herbal medicine and lifestyle adjustments to help manage these symptoms.
The most problematic seems to be hot flushes, often described as a rising wave of heat that comes and goes throughout the day and can interrupt sleep patterns by waking women in the night.
There are a variety of remedies on the market, targeted at helping women manage menopause and choosing one can be very confusing. The truth is that there is no single herb or formula that will suit every woman, because we are all individual and one woman’s symptoms and triggers may be entirely different to another.
A common mistake I see women make when trying herbal remedies is not giving the herbs enough time to work. Hormones change slowly and any adjustment you want to make could take a couple of months to take effect.
Here I list the more common remedies that we use in the shop below our clinic, and the type of symptoms we match them up to. If you’re in doubt about which herbs are most appropriate for your symptoms, contact your local herbalist for some individual advice.
Sage is best when the main complaint you want to address is hot flushes. If you enjoy the taste of sage you can infuse the dried herb in warm water to make a strong brew and keep this cool in your refrigerator to drink throughout the day. If this sounds like too much hassle, sage tablets provide a cheap and easy alternative.
Red Clover Complex
A herbal formula by Natures Aid, Red Clover Complex helps when hot sweats are triggered by stress and when menopause is accompanied by tiredness, low mood and irritability. Your adrenal glands have a role to play in managing your hormones and if you lead a busy or stressful lifestyle then this could be contributing to your menopausal symptoms.
Red Clover Complex is probably the most common menopause remedy that I recommend, because let’s face it, in our modern lifestyle – who isn’t stressed or rushed off their feet?
It is also the remedy that I find works most quickly. It contains herbs like liquorice and Siberian ginseng for stress and adrenal support. I’ve seen these herbs work in as little as one week which is almost unheard of for menopause remedies. If your hot flushes are particularly bad during the day while you are busy, a remedy like this could be a swift answer. Red clover complex also contains sage so it covers all bases, making it my ‘go to’ remedy for most menopause symptoms.
Do your hot flushes leave you drenched with sweat? Magnesium isn’t a hormonal remedy, but it can work quickly to regulate mineral balance and reduce the heavy sweating that comes alongside the heat.
Look to magnesium if you enjoy a lot of tea, coffee, cola or salty foods and combine it with one of the herbal remedies above. It won’t address the heat caused by the menopause, but it could help you feel much drier, much more quickly.
Recognising the triggers for hot flushes can give you a greater degree of control over symptoms. Caffeine, red wine, chocolate and cheese tend to be the biggest culprits for bringing on a hot flush. You don’t have to cut these foods out, but if you may notice a cheese and wine night keeps you wide awake all night with the blankets off and the windows wide open. You can identify those things as triggers and make a more informed choice about what eat next time. Some foods may be worth the disturbed sleep, but the important fact is that identifying triggers means you have control.
Menopause is a complicated journey that can last for years, so if you are looking to natural remedies it is worth asking an expert to get the right advice and the right remedy quickly.
For more information or to book an appointment with Nicola, contact her clinic on 01524 413733.