Menopause signals the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle, or period. It is a natural, three-part cycle that occurs in women between 45 and 55 years old. Comprised of perimenopause, menopause, which occurs 12 months after a woman’s last period, and post-menopause, this process can be seven to 14 years long. Some women can experience symptoms during this cycle such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, chills, night sweats, weight gain, irregular periods, decreased sex drive, bone loss, headaches, anxiety, and depression. With that long list of symptoms, many women feel overwhelmed when finding a safe, natural remedy. So, today, we’ll do the work for you and discuss the top supplements for menopause.
Genistein is a natural isoflavone primarily found in soybeans and soybean-enriched products. An isoflavone is a nutritional supplement found in foods like legumes and herbs like red clover.
Isoflavones are phytoestrogens, which are similar in structure to estrogen. Considered to be antioxidant compounds, they also reduce the damage done to the body by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that break down cells over time. They cause signs of aging, and potentially, a host of diseases.
Overall, research has shown that genistein may help menopausal women control blood glucose, raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol, reduce hot flashes, ease vaginal symptoms, and improve cognitive function.
Recommended dose: 30-60mg once daily
Wild Yam Root
Traditionally used to rebalance see-sawing hormones that can trigger symptoms like premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstrual cramps, wild yam root can also help manage menopausal symptoms. It contains a chemical called diosgenin, a phytoestrogen with weak estrogen-type effects, which can help tackle hot flashes and elevate mood.
Do not take wild yam root if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a hormone-sensitive condition (i.e., breast cancer), or have protein S deficiency, as this increases your risk of forming blood clots. Taking wild yam root with estrogen pills may also decrease the effects of the estrogen pills.
Recommended dose: Dosing varies for this supplement. Ask your doctor or a trusted healthcare provider about the appropriate amount for you.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen used in herbal remedies for treating sleep problems and mood swings in menopausal women. An adaptogen is a class of herbs intended to boost your resistance to stress. Those who take ashwagandha believe that it can give you energy when fatigued and help you relax when you are restless. A 2011 study on ashwagandha suggests that it can boost energy levels by tackling problems associated with high-stress levels.
Part of the Nightshade family, ashwagandha is native to the drier regions of India. Those who swear by it use it to treat stress and anxiety, swelling and joint pain, memory loss, and prevent the effects of aging. You see, it releases tons of antioxidants and phytochemicals and has tons of fatty acids, potassium, tannins, flavonoids, and iron. It’s essential to remember that while the berries are edible, the root is the most potent.
Recommended Dose: Ask your doctor for advice about forms of ashwagandha and doses. Large doses can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting. It may also interfere with thyroid tests, sedatives, blood thinners, thyroid supplements, drugs that suppress the immune system, and drugs for anxiety, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Perimenopausal and menopausal women can lose their sex drive and the ability to achieve orgasm. While this doesn’t happen to everyone, it can put large amounts of stress on women and their intimate relationships. Long used by ancient cultures, the maca root enhances energy, vitality, and libido.
Unfortunately, it remains unclear how the maca root works since it has no impact on hormone level, but preliminary studies suggest improvement in sex drive compared to a placebo. A 2010 review of four studies found evidence that maca root improves sexual desire after at least six weeks of ingestion. Other studies showed a favorable outcome that maca root could provide relief from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and interrupted sleep. Maca root is also associated with reduced anxiety and symptoms of depression. Scientists believe that the flavonoids within the root are partially responsible for the maca root’s psychological benefits.
This root, grown in the Andes of central Peru, is generally dried and consumed in powdered form but is also available in capsules and as a liquid extract. It is highly nutritious, as it is an excellent source of carbs, low in fat, and contains a decent amount of fiber. It is also high in essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, copper, and iron.
Maca root is generally considered safe but be cautious if you have a thyroid problem. Maca root contains goitrogens, which may interfere with the function of the thyroid gland.
Recommended Dose: The maca root dosage in studies ranges from 1.5-5g/day. However, most alternative medicine practitioners suggest starting at 3g/day and working your way up to 9g/day.
Chaste Tree Berry
Also known as vitex agnus-castus fruit, the chaste tree berry has shown some promise when it comes to treating menopausal symptoms. Widely used to treat infertility and PMS symptoms, chaste tree berry contains hormonal precursors that can prompt hormone changes within the body. You see, it acts as a pituitary adaptogen, which ultimately balances the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body. Chaste tree berry also balances the pituitary’s output of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone), both of which shift during menopause. FSH helps stimulate the growth of eggs inside the ovary and LH is responsible for the release of the egg from the ovary. These two hormones are essential for a period to occur.
Overall, it’s proven that the main ingredients of the chaste tree berry, especially agnuside, help control the main symptoms of menopause, including night sweats, hot flashes, and flushes.
One study, in which vitex oils were given to 23 women in menopause, reported improved mood and better sleep. Some participants even regained their period.
Recommended Dose: 400-500mg/day or as directed by a trusted healthcare professional. Chaste tree berry is best absorbed between meals.
Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is a traditional herb that has been used for 2,000 years for its medicinal properties. Also known as the “female ginseng,” scientists are not sure whether the herb acts as estrogen or blocks estrogen, but studies using products that contain dong quai have shown that it is effective in treating anxiety, hot flashing, and can improve bone health and the immune system.
Dong quai is not safe to use while pregnant, as it may cause the uterus to contract. We also recommend limiting your sun exposure as dong quai, particularly in high doses, can cause inflammation and skin rashes. Finally, do not take dong quai if you are at risk of hormone-related cancers, such as breast cancer, as doctors are still unsure if dong quai acts as estrogen in the body.
Recommended Dose: You may take 500mg-600mg tablets or capsules up to six times per day.
Try These Supplements Today!
In this blog, we discussed four supplements that may help women control their menopausal symptoms in a safe and natural way. These supplements include genistein, wild yam root, ashwagandha, maca root, chaste tree berry, and dong quai. From helping to combat hot flashes to boosting mood and elevating sex drive, there’s not much these supplements can’t do for menopausal women. When you believe you are entering perimenopause or have already begun the process, speak with your doctor or a trusted healthcare professional about your alternative treatment options.
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