HERBAL REMEDIES TO HELP YOU THROUGH THE MENOPAUSE
NEARLY a third of women troubled by menopause symptoms have tried herbal remedies or vitamins to ease problems — from hot flushes and night sweats, to poor sleep and low libido — according to a YouGov survey.
Dr Anne Henderson, a consultant gynaecologist and author of Natural Menopause, says ‘complementary herbal remedies and HRT can work in synergy, and women can use them together to optimise their care.
‘As HRT and herbal remedies work differently at the receptor level, they complement, rather than compete.’ Dr Henderson, who is a British Menopause Society-accredited specialist, says: ‘Some herbs can be more effective for some women, and less so for others.’ She stresses that you should, if buying over-the-counter, look for tablets and tinctures that carry the traditional herbal registration (THR) mark.
SAGE LEAF: ‘This is the number one herb [for menopause symptoms],’ says Dr Henderson. ‘ Sage supports metabolism, reduces hot flushes and night sweats and improves cognition.
‘New research has shown that nearly 60 per cent of women taking a fresh extract of sage leaf not only experienced a reduction in severity and frequency of their hot flushes by over half, but also benefited from lower anxiety and improved cognitive function.’
BLACK COHOSH AND RED CLOVER: ‘These two herbs are effective at controlling vasomotor symptoms [caused by changes in the blood vessels] such as hot flushes and night sweats and generally boosting energy,’ says Dr Henderson.
Red clover contains plant oestrogens that have been shown in research to ease hot flushes and help with libido, low mood and tiredness, and may help with problems such as blood pressure.
Dr Henderson suggests black cohosh and red clover are best taken as tablets, but recommends consulting your doctor or a herbalist before using red clover if you’ve had a hormone-responsive disease including breast cancer.
VALERIAN ROOT: If sleep is a problem, this herb can help by easing anxiety and reducing hot flushes. It should not be taken with other sedatives.
MACA ROOT: ‘This herb addresses a number of menopausal symptoms,’ says Dr Henderson. ‘It can help with low libido, tiredness and poor concentration.’
It can be taken as a powder and added to smoothies or yoghurt.