When researching menopause and perimenopause the main information that most people can find is regarding hot flushes. Perhaps because there are very few natural remedies for this and yet it is one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause.
Hot Flashes are sometimes referred to as mildly humorous names like “my own personal heat source” and “a tropical moment”. Hot flushes or hot flashes or some other comical name, call them what you will but they are unpleasant.
According to the Mayo Clinic there is no absolute cause of hot flashes. They are thought to originate in the hypothalamus. Unfortunately there also does not seem to be any “cure” but simply treatment for the symptom.
They are usually accompanied by flushed cheeks and chest and they are not relieved by being in a cold environment or in front of a fan.
There are some herbs that can help, but again, different herbs work for different women.
Evening Primrose Oil – Has been used over time to treat women’s issues. There is some evidence that it can reduce the intensity of hot flashes.
Black Cohosh – Is effective in easing hot flashes. The caution with this herb is that it can build up in your liver over time so long term use is not recommended.
Wild Yam – Unfortunately this herb is promoted as having progesterone and estrogen. Synthetic progesterone like steroids can be made from wild yam but it takes a long time in the laboratory. Wild Yam itself will not give you relief.
Diseases such as dementia and alzheimer’s are generally thought to be diseases of aging. Unfortunately perimenopause also affects memory causing forgetfulness and fuzziness. I like to refer to this as menopause brain.
Menopause brain seems to be worse when there are major hormonal changes and eases off once they are done. This can take time.
Fortunately there are herbs that can help
Gingko Biloba – This is one of the best know herbs for memory. It works because it is a vasodilator and improves blood flow to the brain. It is also amazingly effective in the treatment of varicose vein pain.
Over the ages Gingko has been used to treat PMS and shows effectiveness for treating symptoms such as breast tenderness.
Coconut Oil – Anyone that has talked to me or read my blog knows that I promote coconut oil constantly. There is a lot out there about this new super food and memory but it actually makes sense when you understand how it works.
Coconut oil is good for memory whether you are menopausal or not. As we age our brain cells become glucose intolerant and starve creating memory lapses. Coconut oil converts to ketones in the body and is a perfect match for the receptor sites on brain cells. This means that the cells no longer starve and remain fully active throughout their lifecycle.
For more info on coconut oil see my blog here.
Mood swings can be dealt with in the same manner as anxiety and depression. My favorite herbs for this are:
Lemon Balm – to level off your moods
Borage oil – lifts your mood from down to up
For interactions and contraindications see my first blog in this series here.
There is an excellent description from Harvard on this condition which includes exercises that can help.
Frequent urination is thought to be caused by damaged tissue on the pelvic floor from childbirth. It is also thought that as we age the urethra becomes thinner and therefore the need to void is increased. It can also be caused by infection.
There are a number of herbs that can help with this.
Saw Palmetto is excellent for men with enlarged prostate
Passiflora incarnata (I know my friend at Passiflora Aromatics will love this) is used for inflammation and as an anti spasmodic.
Valerian is not only a calming herb for the emotions but it can also be used for urinary tract disorders.
Uva Ursi is useful for treating urinary tract disorders, swelling and inflammation.
Schicsandra which will be the topic of an upcoming blog is useful for helping stop frequent urination.
As with all herbs, before you decide to take something please do the research, check out interactions with medicines both over the counter and supplements and check with your doctor or a qualified naturopath or clinical herbalist.
Perimenopause and menopause are something most women will have to encounter, why not make the process as easy as possible.