Find the Best Herbs for Menopause Relief
To find the best menopause herbal treatment can be totally confusing. Just reading about all of them can trigger a hot flash attack!
Yes, it is true that there are thousands of choices, but most herbs have a lot in common and can be grouped together. The selection is much easier if you understand the differences.
Here are the 4 groups of menopause herbal treatments:
- Herbs that contain plant estrogen – Phytoestrogens
- Herbs that help your body adapt to the stress of menopause –Adaptogens
- Hormone Regulating Herbs
- Symptom Specific Herbs
Many herbs fall into more than one category. For example, Hops has very powerful plant estrogens and is great for hot flashes but it also helps with anxiety and insomnia. A Maca Supplement is considered an adaptogen but it also alleviates hot flashes, helps with weight loss and fights fatigue.
1. Plant Estrogens (Phytoestrogens)
These herbs activate the estrogen receptors and act somewhat like a weak version of the estrogen your own body produces. Any menopause herbal treatment that contain phytoestrogens help with symptoms related to an estrogen imbalance such as:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Skin problems
- Mood swings
- Lack of sex drive
The best estrogenic herbs for menopause relief are:
- Hops (Humulus lupulus)
- Dong Quai or Angelica Herb (Angelica sinensis)
- Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)/ Liquorice
- Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
- Soy Estrogen (Glycine max)
Every herb with phytoestrogens will help with hot flashes and night sweats and the other low estrogen symptoms because of the estrogen-like activity.
Hops is just now being used as a herbal menopause treatment. It is more commonly used as a sleep aid or mild sedative. When women experience its powerful action for hot flashes, its popularity will probably change soon.
Hops contains a different kind of phytoestrogen that is much stronger than other, more familiar, estrogen-like substances. But because it is an herb, it is still much safer than hormones. This might well be the best of both worlds for women: a powerful plant estrogen that is effective and safe.
The Angelica herb “Dong Quai” is not only a phytoestrogen, it also falls under the hormone regulating herbs for menopause relief.
It has been called the female ginseng for its ability to balance the female hormone system, to increase energy and to balance the emotional system.
In Asia, women use it throughout their reproductive years. It is a very common ingredient in Chinese herbs for menopause.
Licorice Root can help with mood swings and menopausal depression due to its activity on specific neurotransmitters. It also blocks the activity of a specific enzyme that subsequently increases the activity of cortisol. This can cause mild adrenal stimulation which may be helpful for Adrenal Fatigue.Licorice Root is a great menopause herbal treatment because it has so many beneficial effects for women.
Red Clover is used as a natural treatment for osteoporosis and osteopenia, two common problems associated with estrogen deficiency due to menopause. Red Clover is also beneficial to restore the vaginal lining and help with vaginal thinning and atrophy. A great option as a menopause herbal treatment.
Soy (Soya) can help with mood swings, PMS symptoms, migraine headaches, and irregular periods. It will return vaginal moisture if taken for several months in higher than recommended doses.
Not all women can metabolize soy to get the hot flash reducing activity of Soy Isoflavones (as specific kind of phytoestrogen). For this reason it has fallen somewhat out of favor.
2. Hormone Regulating Herbs
The herbs in this group influence the endocrine system and help to regulate various hormones.
The best hormone regulating herbs are:
- Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
- Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus castus)
- Maca Root (Lepidium meyenii)
- Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Motherwort (Leonorus cardiaca)
Black Cohosh Root is the most popular menopause herbal treatment, especially for the dreaded hot flashes. Its active substance works on the part of the brain that regulates hormones, the core body temperature and your mood.
Black Cohosh is a new entry into this group based on recent research that finally discovered how Black Cohosh works. Previously it was thought that Black Cohosh was acting on the estrogen receptors but this has been shown to be not true. You will still find many references of Black Cohosh as a phytoestrogen.
Remifemin® is a standardized Black Cohosh supplement that has been used for decades as an alternative to Hormone Therapy in Europe.
The Chaste Tree Berry or Vitex regulates the pituitary gland which releases FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Luteinizing Hormone). These hormones stimulate the production of estrogen and progesterone in the ovaries. Vitex can help during perimenopause and is also beneficial for PMS symptoms.
Maca Root benefits the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal system – systems regulate several body functions that are important for menopause. One such system is responsible for the hot flashes. Hot flashes are caused by wrong signals in the hypothalamus which regulates body heat.
The effect of Maca on the adrenal system should help with adrenal fatigue and fuzzy thinking. (The effect of Maca on female libido is doubtful, despite Maca’s reputation as an aphrodisiac).
Licorice Root is not only a powerful estrogenic herb, is also acts (like Maca) on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system. The effect on the adrenal gland is enhanced by adding Asian Ginseng. Licorice has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Motherwort is great for hotflashes and night sweats but it also regulates blood pressure and the adrenal system. It has a calming effect but does not make you drowsy. Women with heavy menstrual flow have to be careful because Motherwort can make this symptom worse.
3. Adaptogens – Stress Relief for Your Body
Adaptogens are herbs that help the body to adapt to changes like illnesses, traumas, stress or any other changes.
The body is under a lot of stress during menopause. Changes occur not only in hormone levels but also through common health problems which often appear at a woman’s midlife. So adaptogenic herbs are perfect for this stage of your life.
Most adaptogens have high concentrations of anti-oxidants which are beneficial to fight aging, heart disease and cancer. Anti-Oxidants get rid of free radicals which are responsible for a lot of damages to your body.
The most common adaptogens used as a menopause herbal treatment are:
- Ashwagandha / Winter Cherry (Withania coagulans)
- Asian Ginseng(Panax Ginseng)
- Evening Primrose Oil(Oenothera biennis)
- Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Maca Root (Lepidium meyenii)
Ashwagandha / Winter Cherry is used in Indian (Ayurvedic) medicine as an herb for gentle relaxation and to restore emotional balance. It is thought to work on several neurotransmitters and help women with hot flashes, anxiety, depression and fuzzy thinking.
Asian Ginseng helps the body to resist stress and adapt to change. Ginseng contains steroid-like ingredients that help to boost the energy level and improve mental performance. Ginseng is the most popular herb in the United States.
Evening Primrose Oil is used for the treatment of a variety of menopause symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, headaches, anxiety, fluid retention and breast tenderness. These are more or less the classical signs of PMS which are also common in Peri-Menopause.
Licorice Root has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. The active compounds help to boost the immune system, alleviate hot flashes, menopausal depression, mood swings and adrenal fatigue. It is also a powerful estrogenic herb.
Maca Root is both an adaptogen and a hormone regulating herb. It has several essential minerals and fatty acids and is rich in proteins and vital nutrients. Maca benefits hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, fuzzy thinking and low energy. It also helps to fight the “mid-life spread.”
4. Symptom Specific Herbs
Here is a list of some symptom specific herbs for menopause relief. These include herbs that have calming or invigorating properties. These herbs can be used to treat specific symptoms, such as insomnia or anxiety, or you can also use them as needed to add to your regular menopause supplement.
- Ashwagandha for anxiety, insomnia, depression, mood swings and irritability
- Valerian for irritability and mood swings
- Hops is a calming herb used for sleeplessness and anxiety. It also contains powerful phytoestrogens and helps with hot flashes and night sweats.
- Kava Kava for anxiety and nervousness
- Motherwort for night sweats.
- St. John’s Wort is a natural antidepressant. (There are some side effects and contra-indications.)
- Chamomille for nausea and nervousness.
- Sage for hot flashes and night sweats. Sage is well known for its ability to regulate excessive sweating.
- Red Clover for Osteoporosis, also to fight cancer
- Dictamnus (Origanum dictamnus, Dittany of Crete, Cretan Dittany or Hop Marjoram) is a great energy booster and helps with dizziness and lightheadedness, also known as an aphrodisiac.
If hot flashes and other low estrogen symptoms are your main problem, try hops. Black Cohosh is also a great choice and the newer supplements have a higher concentration of the active chemical in Black Cohosh than older formulations.
For a information about any of these herbs, check out the list of the herbs for menopause. Just follow the links to the specific herb from there.
Whichever menopause herbal treatment you choose, make sure that you get your supplements from reliable sources. The deep discount supplements often contain a lot less of active chemicals than are advertised on the label.
Most menopause supplements contain a variety of herbs, together with vitamins and minerals. Follow the link below for reviews of the best menopause supplements.