By Julie Wilson
Fatigue, mood swings, night sweats and decreased libido are just a few of the uncomfortable symptoms that accompany menopause, a process that marks the end of a woman’s fertility, typically occurring around the age of 51.
The depletion of ovarian follicles or oocytes tamper with a woman’s reproductive hormones, resulting in low estrogen levels that induce most the of the side effects associated with menopause. Lower androgen levels, or male hormones, contribute to the loss of sex drive, reports UCLA Health.
Hormone replacement therapy, including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, is frequently offered as a treatment for menopause-related hormone imbalances; however, many people experience drug-related side effects. Long-term use and taking the incorrect dosage can contribute to some very serious health risks, including breast cancer, blood clots, myocardial infarction and stroke.
However, a report by EmpowHer.com lists five natural herbs that are helpful in reducing the irritating and sometimes painful symptoms associated with menopause.
1.) Turmeric (curcumin)
Extremely popular in Indian-style dishes, turmeric provides an abundance of endless health benefits, earning the title as one of the most diverse superfoods on the planet. This member of the ginger family is believed to have over 600 potential preventive and therapeutic applications and 175 distinct beneficial physiological effects, as reportedby Natural News, one of them being their ability to reduce joint pain and muscle aches.
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties work great for treating chronic pain caused by arthritis, body aches, tendinitis and muscle fatigue. However, in order to be effective for treating moderate to serious ailments, turmeric needs to be taken in capsule form, with doses ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 mg divided out through the day.
2.) Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
Also called black snakeroot, bugwort and rattleroot, black cohosh is a member of the buttercup family and is native to North America. This herb was used medicinally during the 19th century to treat rheumatism (arthritis and muscle pain); however, more recent uses include treating hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
Typical doses range from about 500 to 1,500 mg a day. Rare side effects include an upset stomach.
3.) Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus)
A small shrub featuring lance-shaped leaves and purple flowers, the chaste tree is native to the eastern Mediterranean and has been used for thousands of years, including to help suppress sexual desires in monks during the Middle Ages. Greek physicians gave this peppery fruit to the wives of soldiers to help them abstain from sex while their husbands were in battle, according to MountainRoseHerbs.com.
Today, studies show that chaste tree berry can help support a healthy and regular menstrual cycle, as well as reduce the unpleasant symptoms of menopause. It’s particularly beneficial for women still cycling in perimenopause, a stage where symptoms can last up to two years before the full onset of menopause. Effective doses include 250-1,000 mg in the morning.
4.) St. John’s Wort
This flowering plant is widely used for treating mental illness in Europe and can be helpful for menopausal women suffering from mild to moderate depression. This herb can heighten photosensitivity and has also been known to interfere with antidepressants, birth control, heart medication and other pharmaceutical drugs. For possible side effects, see “St. John’s Wort and Depression” at NCCAM.NIH.gov.
Recommended doses are 300-900 mg per day.
5.) Maca Root
A Peruvian vegetable of the radish family, this herb is great for balancing hormones, as its nutrients support normal hormone production, reports WellnessMama.com. Naturally high in minerals, maca root boosts energy, stamina and libido, and increases fertility and mood. It also reduces stress hormones and provides relaxation.
Available in powder form, maca root can be mixed into smoothies, coffee or juice. It can also be taken in capsule form in doses ranging from 500 to 2,000 mg per day.