The best natural cures for menopause symptoms can be used instead of traditional medicine hormone replacement medicines, but just because they are natural does not mean they are completely safe. However, traditional medicine tends to emphasize the negative effects of these alternative medicines because researchers have a hard time isolating the active ingredient of herbs in order to test its effectiveness. As herbs are from living plants, they may contain a large number of phytochemicals which would be possible healing substances.
Natural Progesterone Cream
Natural progesterone cream is available from alternative medicine sources. However, since it is a naturally occurring substance, its formula cannot be patented. Drug companies must alter the chemical formula of progesterone into a slightly different but similar chemical structure in order to patent it and sell it to the physicians who prescribe it. Because these hormone replacements are not exactly the same as real progesterone, they have undesirable side effects and do not offer all the protection from menopause symptoms that progesterone itself has.
Black cohosh, or Cimicfusa racemosa, is a European herb used to treat the symptoms of menopause. Its extract, Remifemin, is often used for this purpose. It has been recommended for short-term use, not to exceed six months. It may increase the risk for endometrial cancer, and should not be used by women who have breast cancer. However, in one study at Mayo Clinic, black cohosh reduced hot flashes by 56 percent in 21 women who participated. They reported less fatigue, better sleep, and reduced night sweats.
Herbs to Balance Estrogen and Progesterone Levels
Dong quai, wild yams, licorice, and Macefen are herbs which help regulate the levels of estrogen and progesterone. These are not the hormones themselves, but only regulate the hormonal balance between the two hormones.
Dong Quai: Dong quai has been called the “female ginseng” because of its use in gynecology. Dong quai is a powerful Chinese tonic herb made from the Angelica Sinesis plant which nourishes the blood and supports the menstrual cycle. It is used to treat amenorrhea or the cessation of menstrual bleeding which is the hallmark of menopause. Although it is a natural remedy, it is a powerful herb and should not be given to individuals prone to excessive bleeding.
Wild Yams: Human estrogen itself has been synthesized from the Mexican wild yam. Some of the replacement hormones for estrogen are made from wild yams. The body can synthesize estrogen from wild yams the same way it is synthesized industrially. In one study with rats, wild yams were shown to be effective whereas the extract of wild yams known as diosgenin was not.
Licorice Root: Licorice root, or Glycyrrhiza glabra, has been credited with healing many different illnesses, among them many of the symptoms of menopause such as depression, chronic fatigue, and a host of other problems. Licorice contains over a hundred healing substances. On of these is phytoestrogens, which means plant estrogens. This is effective in replenishing the body’s own estrogen and can replace some of the estrogen lacking in menopause.
Macafem: Macafem is made from the root of the vegetable Lepidium meyenii which is dehydrated. It is grown in high altitudes and originated in Peru. Macafem helps regulate the entire endocrine system including the ovaries. It is helps keep the hormonal balance of the body in harmony, and is of benefit in treating the symptoms of PMS and menopause, among other endocrine system ailments.
“Black Cohosh and Menopause: Benefits of Black Cohosh.” Nutrition Advice by Registered Dietitians – HealthCastle.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2010. http://www.healthcastle.com/black-cohosh-menopause.shtml.
“Dong quai (Angelica sinensis [Oliv.] Diels) – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dong-quai/NS_patient-dongquai.
“Effects of yam and diosgenin on calpain systems in… [Taiwan J Obstet Gynecol. 2008] – PubMed result.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2010. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18603503.