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Herbal Remedies for Menopause

written by: Marina Hanes • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 9/27/2010

Every woman experiences different symptoms of menopause. Some of them are tolerable while others keep you up at night and over heat you. While it's challenging to manage the symptoms of menopause and control the hormones, herbal remedies offer relief, especially if you prefer natural options.

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    Managing Menopause

    Some of the common symptoms of menopause include insomnia, hot flashes and mood swings. Herbs offer a natural way to combat these symptoms so you continue with your daily routine. However, when you decide to use natural remedies, it's important to consult with your doctor as some of them can react with prescription pills that you might be already taking. In addition, herbal medicine for menopause are most likely not covered by your healthcare insurance like some prescribed medications are. However, herbal supplements are more likely to cause less side effects than conventional medications.

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    The Power of Soy

    Soy contains a high amount of phytoestrogens, and although this is a plant-derived compound, it has estrogen-like properties. Soy as well as isoflavones are found in beans, particularly soybeans. Ingesting about 50 grams of soy protein every day is considered a short-term remedy with regard to hot flashes and night sweats. Over the long term, it can manage your cholesterol and bones, which sometimes become negatively affected by menopause. As with any good thing, large amount soy can interact with the body's current estrogen levels and cause complications.

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    St. John's Wort

    St. John's Wort can help mild to moderate depression over a short period of time (approximately 2 years). The suggested dosage per day is 1.2 milligrams or less. For severe depression, St. John's Wort is not as effective and taken over a longer period of time can cause skin sensitivity to the sun. A safer option for hot flashes and night sweats includes black cohosh, which can be take for 6 months or less.

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    Other Remedies

    Some additional remedies include chasteberry, evening primrose, Don quai, Valerian root, and ginseng. For women experiencing tender breasts, chasteberry (a.k.a. monk's pepper or sage tree hemp) may inhibit prolactin, which is a hormone found in the breasts. Another option for breast tenderness includes evening primrose, which contains gamma-linolenic acid (fatty acid). Don quai is known to thin the blood and potentially increase your chance of skin cancer, but it can be effective for reducing the intensity of hot flashes. Valerian root can act as a natural sleeping aid if you're suffering from insomnia. However, heart problems and delirium are potential risks. While ginseng doesn't work on hot flashes, it has been show to improve overall well being.

    Natural remedies are viable options when prescription drugs fail to work or cause harmful effects. However, even when dealing with herbal remedies for menopause, you still have to consider the potential risks.