Women who begin experiencing the symptoms of menopause are entering the stage known as perimenopause. The standard treatment is hormone replacement therapy, which carries a higher risk for developing side effects, or cancers, than the more natural alternative treatments. There are many ways that women can alleviate or nearly stop the troubling symptoms of perimenopause through natural and safe alternative treatment options. Many health care providers recommend natural treatment over synthetic hormones, especially in cases when their patients health history suggests that they are already at high risk.
Symptoms of perimenopause
There is a wide range of symptoms that accompany the perimenopause stage. They can also vary in intensity and duration. The most common are hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, depression, anxiety, irregular menstrual periods, weight gain, low libido, fatigue and memory loss. While some women have mild bouts with these symptoms, some experience debilitating symptoms which require treatment in order for them to perform everyday functions of life. Most experience moderate symptoms, however; every woman is individual in her experience with perimenopause. These symptoms are caused by the lack of estrogen and progesterone in the body.
Why alternative treatments are recommended to standard hormone replacement therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) consists of synthetically engineered estrogen and progesterone that is designed to replace the lowering levels that are no longer produced within the body during perimenopause. This treatment method carries with it a higher risk for the development of certain cancers. Women who are at high risk because of family history of cancers, or who have had cancer or other pathologies themselves may not be candidates for traditional hormone replacement therapy. Alternative menopause therapies do not carry the risks associated with HRT and are recommended by many health care providers.
Botanical menopause therapies
Botanical treatments consist of compounds which are derived from plants which act like estrogen and progesterone in the body. These compounds are called isoflavones and phytoestrogens. These are found in soy products such as soy milk, soybeans and tofu. Black cohosh is an herb, rich in phytoestrogens which has been found effective in treating night sweats, hot flashes and vaginal dryness. The side effects are rare, but can include gastrointestinal discomfort. Evening primrose oil is also an alternative natural herb which provides similar relief. The side effects of this herbal remedy include gastrointestinal issues, increase in blood clotting and possible effects upon the immune system.
Other botanical herbs used to treat menopause
Many manufacturers of natural supplements used to treat the symptoms of menopause also include Dong quai, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, rice bran oil, licorice root, ginkgo biloba, red clover, ginseng, valerian root, wild yam, calcium, sage, passion flower and sarsaparilla. These botanicals also include isoflavones and phytoestrogens. The extracts and derivatives from these plants are blended together in a variety of combinations to create supplements that help to replace the lowering levels of hormones in the body's systems.
Are herbal remedies safe?
Most herbal supplements are considered to be safer than traditional hormone replacement therapy. It is recommended that you consult with your health care provider for recommendations regarding the safest and best herbal ingredients, and the proper dosage. Some natural supplements can be harmful if the recommended dosage is exceeded so it's better to be safe than sorry later.
Other forms of alternative treatments
In additional to botanical treatments, some studies have found that mind and body practices help to lessen the symptoms of menopause. Yoga, qi gong, and tai chi have been effective in easing menopausal symptoms. Yoga consists of a combination of meditation, controlled breathing and assuming different poses with the body. Yoga shows promise in lessening the frequency and intensity of hot flashes in perimenopausal women. In addition to this, acupuncture has been shown to reduce hot flashes temporarily, bringing about some relief.
Women seeking alternative treatments for perimenopausal symptoms should consult with their health care provider for recommendations of the safest and most effective therapies. There is a wide range to choose from and although many of them are safe and effective, there are some which can be harmful if taken in high dosages. The top alternative treatments for menopause include botanical supplements which include naturally produced phytoestrogens which act like estrogen in the body. In addition, mind and body practices such as yoga, tai chi and acupuncture may be good options for easing the discomfort of perimenopause.