The al­ter­na­tives From yoga to gin­seng

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Sarah Bose­ley

No al­ter­na­tive to HRT of­fers an in­stant cure. Ther­a­pies fall into three groups: non-drug op­tions, pills for other con­di­tions that can also re­duce menopausal symp­toms, and al­ter­na­tive ther­a­pies.

Non-drug:

Yoga This ex­er­cise helps some women with their symp­toms, par­tic­u­larly mood swings and also in cop­ing with the surges of heat that cause the body to sweat and the skin to flush red.

Cog­ni­tive be­havioural ther­apy Stud­ies have shown CBT can help women cope with and re­duce symp­toms.

Ex­er­cise and weight loss Get­ting fit helps all med­i­cal con­di­tions. Los­ing weight is good for bone health, which can be im­paired by loss of oe­stro­gen in the menopause.

Diet Caf­feine, al­co­hol and spicy foods can all trig­ger sweat­ing and flushes.

Other medicines: Cloni­dine The pill to treat high blood pres­sure, ADHD and anx­i­ety can slightly re­duce menopausal flush­ing. An­tide­pres­sants A low dose is said to help cut hot flushes. Gabapentin This epilepsy drug can help hot flushes but may cause tired­ness.

Al­ter­na­tive ther­a­pies:

Her­bal medicines These may help. Nice says there is some ev­i­dence for black

co­hosh and isoflavones, such as soy, de­rived from the bean fam­ily, but says the fact they come in var­i­ous strengths means safety is un­cer­tain. They can in­ter­act with other medicines. Evening prim­rose oil, an­gel­ica, gin­seng and St John’s Wort All are said to al­le­vi­ate menopausal symp­toms. Acupunc­ture A study last year found it cut the num­ber of hot flushes for some women.

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