Officially, I hit menopause a year ago.
Yay! That means no more cramps, surprises, mood swings, or birth control. But – menopause comes with its own set of problems, and some of them can be as bad as during the reproductive years.
What Happens During Menopause?
When the female body stops being a viable receptacle for pregnancy, certain areas shut down, while others pick up. Eggs no longer travel down the fallopian tube and the lining of the uterus is no longer shed each month. For many of us, both of these are a welcome relief. But in turn, your body will produce less and less estrogen and other changes occur. I noticed that it got really hard to lose that last 10 pounds I wanted to shed, and in fact, gained a few more. I think (and it’s not been proven, but makes sense) that since estrogen is a fat-based hormone and your body is making less of it, your body keeps the fat to house the small amount of estrogen that it has.
Since there are no eggs being released, birth control is no longer necessary, but… beware! In the first year of menopause, your body can still throw out an egg or two randomly. Many women have had late babies because they thought they were in menopause, only to find out they weren’t quite there yet. Once a full year has passed without a menstrual cycle, it’s generally pretty safe. (You might want to choose a back up method just in case.)
Other things that happen while your body is adjusting are hot flashes (power surges!), night sweats, blood sugar complications, loss of libido, hair falling out, hair growing in other areas it wasn’t growing before, and yes, even mood swings can start up again.
So what can you do? There are a host of medications out there that can be taken for these problems. One is Premarin, and excuse me for saying it, but eeewww! It’s made from the urine of pregnant mares. Yep – PREgnant MARe urINe. It can also be synthetic, produced in a lab with ingredients that are like nothing found in nature. I chose the natural way.
Natural Remedies for Menopause
1. Black Cohosh
For many women, this is a miracle drug. It comes from the root of the plant Cimicefuga rascemosa, which is found readily in my area (the southern Appalachian mountains) and many other parts of the world. The root, which can be quite smelly, it harvested, cleaned, dried and ground and then used in capsules or as a tea. It can also be found in tinctures. Whatever application you choose, it will take a while to show effects. It gets into the system slowly and builds up over time.
2. Vitex or Chaste Berry
This comes from the vitex shrub. It’s a great landscape plant with it’s purple spires of flowers during the summer. The berries, or a preparation of the berries, are used over time like black cohosh.
Hawthorn berries are like little crab apples, but they come from a different tree. Hawthorn works to strengthen veins and arteries, helping blood to flow better to vital areas.
Ginseng is an adaptogen, enabling your body to endure stressful situations.
For some women, soy will help to relieve hot flashes. I’d recommend using only non-GMO soy products.
6. Saw Palmeto
Saw plameto has been used in men for a long time to help with the prostate gland. Now it’s been found that some women in menopause can benefit from it too.
7. Clary Sage
Clary sage helps during the menstruating years to balance hormones. It can help in much the same way, on a different part of the spectrum, during menopause.
8. Eliminating Caffeine
Some women benefit from cutting caffeine during menopause. Some say it stops hot flashes entirely. Being a coffee drinker, I haven’t tried it yet.
Yarrow is good for all kinds of issues, including hot flashes or night sweats. Use it as a tincture or tea. It’s bitter, so it’s best when mixed with something.
10. Mountain mint and pennyroyal
Both of these mints can have high amounts of pugelone, which can cause intrauterine contractions. They should NOT be taken by pregnant women. But during menopause, the hormone balancing action may benefit some women.
Most of these natural options can be found in herb, tincture, or capsule form HERE.
A Word of Caution
Before trying to diagnose yourself, you should always see a doctor, clinical herbalist, or someone of that type. Don’t ever start an herbal regimen without the advice of a professional. Not all herbs are right for everyone, and if you experience discomfort or are feeling a little “off,” you should always discontinue use immediately.
I tried to use black cohosh while I was menstruating and it just made me dizzy and sick. I went back to it years later and it had a different effect. Always know what you are using and know what to take and how to take it. And keep in mind that more isn’t always better – sometimes less is more.
Have you tried herbal remedies for menopause?
Which ones helped you? Share your experience in the comments section below!