While menopause may be a natural transition in a woman’s life, that doesn’t mean it is always a comfortable one.
For many women menopause represents freedom from periods and a new-found strength, but for others this phase is replete with an array of unwanted symptoms, some of which include: depression, anxiety, hot flashes, weight gain and memory lapses.
And, of course, Big Pharma offers a “solution” in the form of drug-based hormone replacement therapy (HRT). But should you medicate this transitional time or choose natural options that support your body’s own hormonal balance?
What Exactly is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
HRT is an estrogen replacement drug that also goes by the name Premarin, which is short for pregnant mare’s urine. That’s because it is made from estrogen from horse’s urine. Just from an animal right’s perspective you may not want to go on hormone replacement therapy. According to PETA about 750,000 horses are confined to small stalls where they are unable to move, impregnated and then have sacks attached to their groin to collect the urine.
What are the Side-Effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy?
The most commonly known side-effects are the increased risk for heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer, which not only lasts during the treatment but also afterward.
What are the Benefits of HRT?
Most women find that HRT reduces symptoms like hot flashes and may slow bone mass loss. It may also help reduce anxiety and depression; however, most women find the same benefits from bioidentical hormones.
What are the Alternatives to HRT?
Bioidentical hormones are made from botanical plants such as soy and yams and are pharmaceutically-processed to produce natural estrogen and progesterone, usually in the form of a cream that is absorbed by the skin. While bioidentical hormones are popular, they aren’t the only option for menopause. Other natural options include:
-a largely or completely plant-based diet—plant-based diets tend to be high in phytoestrogens that are needed during menopause
-quitting smoking and reducing sugar intake
-meditation and stress-relief techniques
-Hormone-balancing herbs. Some of the most popular herbs used during menopause, include: black cohosh, chaste tree berry and wild yam. Red clover and sage are among my favorite herbs for strengthening a woman’s body.
Red Clover is particularly suited when a woman is experiencing hot flashes and has low estrogen levels. That’s because red clover contains natural estrogenic substances known as isoflavones that can help boost the body’s own hormone levels, but in a much gentler and more natural way than hormones derived from animal or synthetic sources. Make the tea by using one heaping teaspoon of dried herb to a cup of boiled water and allow to steep for 15 to 20 minutes. A typical dose is two to three cups of red clover tea daily.
Sage also has estrogen-like propertis, making it an excellent herb during the menopausal years. In my experience, using a drop or two of sage essential oil diluted in a carrier oil and inhaling or using for massage is great; however, using the herbal extract in tea or tincture form is also helpful. Follow the same instructions as under “red clover” to make sage tea. Follow package directions for the tincture you select.
Menopause is not a disease, and as such should not be treated as one, contrary to what pharmaceutical companies might have you believe. Bioidentical hormones, a plant-based diet, and herbal medicines are frequently able to address any difficult symptoms. Ultimately, however, it is a personal choice that only you can make.