How herbal remedies can support you during menopause

Cropped shot of a mature businesswoman looking stressed out while working in her office at home, menopause at work

As women reaching menopause turn to more natural ways to ease their transition, there are a dizzying array of natural products available on the market to try.

But which to choose? And why does one product sound like a miracle cure for some, when it does absolutely nothing for others? Sometimes too much choice just results in a lot of wasted money and a medicine cabinet bulging at the seams with discarded products.

So how can you tell what herbal product might help? Well firstly it’s important to understand what women’s bodies need at this important stage of life – and it may not be what you think. When we are heading towards menopause our oestrogen levels drop – we don’t need as much for the rest of our lives but we will still need a certain amount to keep us ticking over. When our ovaries no longer produce it, the job falls to several different sites in the body for the first time. One of the key sites to get involved is our adrenal glands

If you’ve been living a standard modern life juggling family, kids, work, house then it’s likely that your adrenals are pretty tired by this point anyway, and may only just be keeping up. Add a brand new responsibility for oestrogen production into the mix, and there’s no way they can comply.

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So herbal support for women at this stage of life actually centres around supporting their adrenal health, and getting their stress levels down. Then we support their liver which is often working pretty hard at this point, and finally we can add in some phytoestrogen containing herbs to plug the gap while the adrenals get up to speed with their new task.

Here are some of my top ways to do this:

  1. Caffeine puts a lot of strain on our adrenals, so cutting it out, or back is very beneficial. Choose herbal teas instead that can help support the body throughout the day – whether you need a boost or a relaxing cuppa.
  2. Calming herbs like Ashwagandha help to nourish the adrenals and get them up to speed for their new role. Ashwagandha can also help to promote good sleep which can also be a problem during the menopausal years.
  3. Eating a protein rich snack every 3 hours will help keep your blood sugar levels stable. When they drop, your adrenals have to work harder to get them up again. Nuts and seeds are great for an easy to grab nutrition boost on the go.
  4. Sleep is essential, and to often it becomes disturbed, making you crankier in the daytime. Choose a good sleepy time tea and get into the routine of drinking it every night before bed. There are plenty to choose from – herbs like passionflower and valerian can really help you to nod off and stay asleep.
  5. If you find you tend to get a hangover after just one glass of wine these days, or that your digestion has become a bit sluggish, it could be that your liver could do with a little support. Milk thistle is a very safe herb that can reliably be taken to support your liver to detox.
  6. Herbs like red clover and black cohosh contain plant oestrogens that the body can use while the adrenals catch up. This can help to reduce distressing symptoms like hot flushes.
  7. If you do get hot flushes in the night, an old herbal remedy is to drink some sage tea – but the trick is to drink it cold. Cold sage tea will cool you down whereas taken hot it can promote sweating. Make it up before you go to sleep and keep a mugful by your bedside in case you need to reach for it at night.

The route to menopause can be a tricky one – but there are plenty of practical steps you can take to support yourself through it. If you have other health conditions or take prescription medicine, check in with a medical herbalist for bespoke advice.

About the author

Pamela discovered herbal medicine seeking answers for the burnout she experienced in the film industry. One Batchelor’s degree in herbal medicine later, she began clinical practice in 2006 and later grew into teaching, writing and product development. She has been the Twinings Expert Herbalist since 2016. Pamela is a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. www.nimh.org.uk You can contact Pamela via her website www.pamelaspence.co.uk

Pamela Spence MNIMH

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