It is possible for some women to go through perimenopause and menopause without experiencing any symptoms, such as sleep problems, hot flashes, and mood swings. However, for the majority of women who do experience symptoms, relief can often be found through traditional women’s herbs.
Traditional women’s herbs are known as phytohormones, which have adaptogenic, moisturizing, and tonifying effects that can help alleviate many menopausal symptoms. When an herb is adaptogenic, its effects differ depending on the hormone levels of the individual. For example, if a woman has estrogen dominance, a phytoestrogen can exert a modulating effect to stabilize the cell and protect it from overstimulation. Conversely, if her estrogen levels are too low, the same phytoestrogen will have a tonifying and moisturizing effect.
Phytoestrogens are found in over 300 plants, and traditional herbs like maca, Pueraria mirifica, and black cohosh, which are all phytoestrogens, are often the first choice for women seeking to boost estrogen levels naturally. Vitex is a good choice for boosting progesterone levels.
There are estrogen receptors on nearly every cell in the body, with two types of estrogen receptors called Alpha and Beta receptors. Phytoestrogens bind to the Beta estrogen receptor and their estrogenic effect is lower than that of human estrogens, typically ranging from a hundredth to a thousandth that of estradiol. Since the three-dimensional structure of phytoestrogens is different from bioidentical and synthetic hormones, they do not interact with estrogen receptors in the same way, and thus do not produce the same biologic effects.
Phytoestrogens also have antioxidant and antiproliferative effects, which means they have the ability to prevent free-radical damage to cells and to prevent abnormal cell growth. In fact, phytoestrogens have been shown to inhibit breast tumors in animal studies. Importantly, menopausal herbs have never been implicated in promoting cancer in humans.
Common menopausal herbs have been used safely and effectively for thousands of years and rarely have side effects. Although some herbs, such as belladonna, blue cohosh, lobelia, and poke root, should only be used with the guidance of an experienced herbalist, most standardized herbs pose no real concerns.
Herbs generally exert their influence in a much slower, more gradual way than drugs and even bioidentical hormones. Many herbs exert a tonic effect on female pelvic organs and other organs as well. This means that they stimulate blood flow and may even increase the weight of these organs. Other herbs such as black cohosh and chasteberry have been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms by acting on the pituitary gland.
If you have mild symptoms and need a little support, herbs are a great option to support your body. You may also want to try menopausal herbs if you cannot tolerate HRT, have a fear of breast cancer or another health concern, or simply prefer a natural approach to alleviating symptoms.
Remember, many herbs are taken in combination since their actions are often synergistic and produce better results when used this way. This is a good reason to do your own research or talk to an herbalist or practitioner of Chinese Medicine if you are unsure what herbs would be best for you.
It is important to start with simple changes, like adjusting your diet and starting an exercise program, before moving on to other solutions if relief is not achieved. Herbs such as maca, pueraria mirifica, black cohosh, and Vitex may be effective for you, but it may require experimentation and trying different options at different times.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to herbal therapy so we recommend booking a consultation with a iHeal Collective Certified Therapist at email@example.com.