There is a generation of women born in the 50’s and 60’s that are going through menopause at this time. Many times the signs and symptoms are subtle enough to make them feel like it is just them and they are going crazy.
When they do figure it out and try and do some research they discover that the only symptom they seem to be able to find information on is hot flushes. They are also made to feel as if the depression that hits at this time is not real and can be averted by accepting that they will no longer be able to have children. Not only is this old school thinking but there are actually herbs that can help.
Signs and Symptoms
There are many different symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and they vary from woman to woman, just as the herbs that work for each woman will be different. Some of the symptoms are
- Hot Flushes/Night Sweats
- Anxiety – sudden self-doubt, fear of mundane things
- Depression – random crying for no reason, a feeling of cloudy grayness over everything
- Exhaustion – simply tired all the time no matter what you have done or the amount of sleep you have had
- Sleep disorders – waking up in the middle of the night and unable to go back to sleep
- Vaginal dryness – along with dry skin, lips and eyes
- Decreased Libido – just not interested
- Increased Urination – unable to be far from a bathroom at any given moment
- Memory Dysfunction – what happened? I used to have a great memory, am I getting some sort of memory disease because I can’t even seem to find the correct word.
- Mood Swings – I’m euphoric, oh man I can’t understand why I’m crying, get out of my way or I will tear you apart all within a short time span.
Not all women will get every one of these symptoms, some may get very few, some may get all. Some may get different symptoms at different points. The key here ladies is that you are not crazy and you are not just making this up. You are going through a natural physiological phase of your life.
There are a number of standard herbs that are brought up whenever women are looking for a natural alternative to HRT. These herbs include
- Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis)
- Black Cohosh
- Evening Primrose
- Wild Yam
All of these herbs are excellent but I must explain that Wild Yam does NOT mean that if you eat more yams it will help. Wild Yam is a very distinct herb which is different from the domestic yams you are used to eating.
This is the symptom that I hear about the most. It is also a symptom that women understand the least. They question their very existence. How they ever believed they could do things that were easy for them before the hormonal roller coaster. The good news is that there are herbs you can use to help you through this.
Lemon Balm – helps ease the feelings of anxiety so that you can work your way through. It allows you to be alert enough to work and go through your day and just levels you off emotionally. It also assists in sleep disorders. For the benefits of lemon balm see my blog from September 2012 here.
Ginseng – Most stores carry ginseng, not all of them carry the correct type of ginseng for women. In TCM Siberian Ginseng is considered the cool variation. It is excellent for a number of things including overall wellbeing.
Borage – This is just simply put, a happy herb. It was used by Roman soldiers that were away from home for extended periods of time for a good reason. It works! There are borage oil supplements which are excellent. If possible find a good herbal drugstore and get some borage root capsules.
Interactions and Contraindications
As with all herbs what works for one person is not necessarily good for another.
Lemon Balm has no known side effects or contraindications. It is fine to take along with anti-depressants, HRT and any other medicines, supplements or vitamins. There have been a very few reports of people having a slight allergic reaction to lemon balm tea but this is rare enough that this herb is considered a “safe” herb.
Siberian Ginseng is actually a ginseng ‘like’ herb. It is not the same as Panax or American Ginseng. It interacts with several drugs including
- Medicines changed by the liver clozapine, fluvoxamine, zolmitriptan. It can increase and/or decrease the effectiveness
- Diabetes medicines
- Blood thinners
Siberian ginseng is best taken if you are generally healthy and it is considered a ‘safe’ herb for healthy adults.
Borage – another ‘safe’ herb for healthy adults. It may cause allergic reactions and has interactions with
- Blood Thinners (Warfarin, aspirin)
- Medicines changed by the liver
- Discontinue borage at least 2 weeks prior to surgery*****
Next week we will look at the other symptoms and herbs that can help