The menopause represents that time in a woman’s life when her ovaries stop producing sex hormones and her menstrual cycles end. Like puberty it is a time during which many changes take place in the body. Throughout menopause a healthy hormone system is critically important for the maintenance of well-being, both then and in the years that follow.
Many areas of a woman’s body are dependent upon a healthy hormone system. These include the central nervous system and support of cerebral function, the maintenance of a good blood flow and the functioning of the cardiovascular system. Collagen production, which is critically important throughout life for healthy bones and skin, is triggered by hormones. Even the eyes appear on the list, and the incidence of cataracts.
Simply stated, there are four options when choosing to maintain a healthy hormone system.
See your GP. Ask about a menopause test. Discuss the help available. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns about HRT, your GP wants to help. Discuss the benefits, risks and potential long-term problems.
Not happy with taking HRT? There are equally effective supplements available.
How can a supplement help? In many Asian countries, women in menopause do not find it as necessary to turn to HRT. This is attributed to the higher levels of phytoestrogens consumed in their diets. Phytoestrogens are found in virtually everything we eat - grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables - and have been shown to have both estrogenic and antiestrogenic properties (over a 1000 are known).
For Japanese women, a wide range of commonly consumed foods contain amounts of these different phytoestrogens. For example, Coumestans, a class of phytoestrogen, which are over 30 times more potent than the widely regarded Soy isoflavones, can be found in high concentration in bean sprouts. Unfortunately the average western diet offers a much lower intake of phytoestrogens, hence the value of using a dietary supplement.
Phytoestrogens were first identified in the early 1930s. Today, we now know from human clinical trials and molecular and cellular biology experiments that certain phytoestrogens can confer notable health benefits related to cardiovascular diseases, including lowering levels of blood cholesterol, inhibiting several stages of cancer initiation and progression, preventing osteoporosis via stimulating osteoblasts, suppressing menopausal symptoms, and maintaining prostate health in men.
These facts are in part validated by the epidemiological evidence that the rates of these conditions are more favourable in both women and men among populations that consume diets containing a higher proportion of phytoestrogen rich foods. Thus by including FX menopause in your existing diet, you may improve your well-being before, during and after menopause..
If you are suffering with hormone related illness, making HRT unsuitable, talking to your GP is the best starting point.
Properly handled, medicinal herbs may help with the management of specific menopausal symptoms. Please keep in mind that managing symptoms, without dealing with the cause, may leave you vulnerable to long term health issues and that the term "Natural" does not necessarily mean “Safe”.
Even though Black Cohosh has been in use for many years and is, for many women, a way of managing symptoms, its mechanism of action remains unclear. Repeatedly, scientific studies provide contradictory results. In use it is considered moderately effective at managing hot flushes and night sweats. Black cohosh cannot help support cardiac or bone health, and is normally recommended for short term use (to 6 months) by healthy women. Caution is advised for those with Liver and Breast conditions.
Sage may give relief by reducing the excessive perspiration associated with hot flushes and night sweats. It is believed this is because Sage directly decreases production of sweat. This is based on traditional herbal prescribing and has not been evaluated in clinical studies.
Agnus Castus has been used for many years. Modern research confirms it has value in malfunctions of the feminine reproductive system and may be effective in restoring absent menstruation, regulating heavy periods and relieving pre-menstrual tension. Caution is advised since excessive intake can cause a nervous disorder known as formication, which manifests as a sensation of insects crawling over the skin.
Large scientific trials have established that St. John's Wort is an effective support for those suffering with mild to moderate depression. It presents itself as a credible alternative compared to prescription antidepressants and in use has a low incidence of side effects. Caution is advised as St. John's Wort may cause light sensitivity. It should not to be taken together with the contraceptive pill, anti-epilepsy treatments and a number of other medications including anti-depressants. It also should not be taken together with foods that contain tyramine i.e. cheese, red wine, preserved meats and yeast extracts.
Also known as dang-gui in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dong quai is sometimes referred to as the female ginseng. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, dong quai is often included in herbal combinations for abnormal menstruation but is not used in TCM for treating symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes.
Contrary to popular claims, wild yam roots do not contain and are not converted into progesterone or dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in the body. Pharmaceutical progesterone is made from wild yam using a chemical conversion process. This can lead to confusion - while wild yam can be a source of progesterone, it cannot be used without this pharmaceutical conversion, which cannot be duplicated by the body. Women who require progesterone are advised to consult with their Health Professional and not rely on either Wild Yam supplements or other non prescription progesterone creams.
Please keep in mind herbal medicines are derived from natural sources. If you do use herbal supplements you may need to keep your doctor informed. Your doctor may be cautious about endorsing or embracing herbal supplements. This is most often because relatively few controlled studies have been done on herbal supplements.
Lifestyle – Your body, your choice.
Hot flushes and night sweats are often mistakenly accepted as the only major problem caused by the menopause. Due to this, many women go through the menopause without taking adequate measures to reduce the risk of other problems later in life, such as heart disease and osteoporosis. To manage menopause more fully, a woman must manage her reduced ability to produce oestrogen. Hence proactive health maintenance during menopause is vital for any women looking to ensure a good quality of life in the future. This can be facilitated by supplementing with FX menopause 3™. Equally important during menopause is diet and exercise. For more on lifestyle see Menopause, diet and exercise.
Women being treated for oestrogen dependent cancers and, most importantly breast cancer should not assume that Herbal or Dietary supplements are safe to use. Some supplements may work against therapies designed to limit oestrogenic activity.