How can herbs help with the symptoms and change of the menopause?
Herbalists have always viewed the peri-menopause and menopause as a normal transition rather than a deficiency disease and herbs are merely a way of easing some of the symptoms which may arise during this time. The symptoms are as varied as the women who get them, but there are a few symptoms which tend to be mentioned more, eg hot flushes, mood swings and sleeplessness.
Usually a number of herbs are chosen and combined in an individual prescription to take into account each woman’s own constellation of menopausal symptoms. These may of course change over time and so the prescription will be adjusted accordingly. There are many herbal ‘over the counter’ preparations available, but it is important to remember that these cater for a wide range of people and may therefore not be as effective for the individual.
For many GPs in Germany, herbal preparations are now the first line treatment for menopausal complaints. Some herbs have been extensively researched and their effectiveness can be shown in the lab. Black Cohosh is perhaps the best known ‘menopausal’ herb and has been subjected to a lot of research and studies. It has an oestrogen-like effect on the body which makes the drop in oestrogen, which causes so many of the symptoms, less drastic. It is often prescribed in combination with St John’s Wort and has been found to be effective in the management of mood changes, hot flushes and sleeping problems. These herbs may be at the core of a herbal prescription and combined with herbs which are more specific to the various symptoms, i.e. relaxing nervines for sleeping difficulties.
There are plenty of herbs to choose from for the treatment of the various symptoms and the amount of information found on the internet or in books can sometimes be overwhelming. Self-prescribing can be fine in some cases but is not recommended for anyone with other medical problems or on any medication. A herbalist will always take into account the patient’s medical history and medication and adapt the prescription accordingly.
HERBAL HOME REMEDY !!
A simple and safe home remedy to ease hot flushes and increase general wellbeing:
1tbsp dried Red Clover flowers
1 tbsp dried Sage
1 tbsp dried Lemon balm
Cover the above with 500ml – 800ml of boiling water and infuse for at least 10 minutes. Strain off the herbs and drink the tea throughout the day. Can be drunk warm or cold.
Medical Herbalist BSc (Hons) MNIMH
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