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Natural Menopause Remedies: Myths, Truths, and Safety

As women approach menopause, it’s very common to look for ways to manage symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats, and changes in mood.  

While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one well-known option, many women are also interested in natural remedies. 

However, it’s important to be informed about the potential benefits and risks of these remedies so you can make the best choices for you.

Menopause Myths and Truths

  • Myth: Anything labelled ‘natural’ is inherently safe.

Truth: While the word ‘natural’ has a positive ring to it, it doesn’t guarantee a remedy won’t have side effects. Natural remedies aren’t always as rigorously researched as traditional medications and might not be subject to the same level of regulation.

  • Myth: Menopause after surgery is the same as natural menopause.

Truth: There’s a key difference between natural menopause and menopause following surgery (sometimes called surgical menopause). Natural menopause happens gradually, while surgical menopause is sudden due to the removal of the ovaries.

  • Myth: Hot flushes are always the first sign of menopause.

Truth: While hot flushes are one of the most well-known symptoms, every woman’s experience of menopause is different. The first signs can actually include things like tiredness, weight gain, a lower sex drive, and irregular periods.

Safety and Finding What Works For You

  • Herbal Remedies:  Herbs like black cohosh, red clover, evening primrose oil, and St. John’s wort are sometimes used to help with menopause symptoms.  While some women find them helpful, it’s important to understand that research into their effectiveness is ongoing and results have been mixed.
  • Phytoestrogens:  These plant-based compounds that mimic oestrogen are found in foods like soy and also come as supplements.  They might offer some benefits for hormone balance, but current research doesn’t strongly support their use specifically for menopause symptoms. It’s also crucial to be aware of potential interactions with any other medications you take.
  • Bioidentical Hormones: While these plant-derived hormones are marketed as a more natural option, it’s essential to be cautious.  They aren’t as strictly regulated, and there’s not yet enough reliable evidence to confirm their safety or how well they work.

Important Notes:

  • Talk to Your Doctor: Before trying any natural remedies, it’s wise to speak with your healthcare provider. They can help you weigh the potential risks and benefits, especially considering your own health history.
  • Listen to Your Body: Every woman’s experience is unique. If you try a remedy, pay attention to how it makes you feel. What works for one person might not be the best choice for another.

The Goal: The aim is to find safe and effective ways to manage your menopause symptoms and feel your best.

The Evidence So Far

To give some insight into how strong the evidence is for natural remedies, we’ve summarised the key evidence for 4 of the most popular supplements.

Black Cohosh

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa L.) has been studied for its potential to alleviate menopausal symptoms. 

A randomized clinical trial showed that black cohosh significantly reduced the total score on the Greene Climacteric Scale (GCS), which measures menopausal symptoms, including vasomotor, psychiatric, physical, and sexual symptoms, after 4 and 8 weeks of treatment with no reported side effects. 

However, the active ingredients and mechanisms of action of black cohosh are not fully understood, and studies have found varying results for its effects on human physiology.

Red Clover

Red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) is a source of phytoestrogens and has been evaluated for its effects on menopausal symptoms. 

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials found that red clover isoflavone extract (RCIE) significantly reduced the daily incidence of hot flushes and menopausal symptoms. 

However, another study indicated that red clover supplementation showed no significant difference from placebo in improving the quality of life in post-menopausal women, suggesting that further research is needed to confirm its efficacy.

Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil has been investigated for its effect on menopausal symptoms. A single-blind randomised controlled trial found that evening primrose oil effectively decreased the frequency and severity of night sweats in postmenopausal women.

 However, the study did not find a significant decrease in the duration, frequency, and severity of hot flashes after the intervention.

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort has been used to relieve psychological and vegetative symptoms of menopause. 

A drug-monitoring study reported substantial improvement in psychological and psychosomatic symptoms in menopausal women after 12 weeks of treatment with St. John’s Wort.

Natural Remedies: Proceed with Caution

You may come across a variety of natural remedies promoted for menopause.  Unfortunately, some don’t have solid research behind them or have shown minimal results.  

Here’s a quick look at a few:

  • Wild Yams: Creams containing wild yam, or a specific protein from wild purple yams, have been suggested for menopause symptoms. While there have been a few promising studies,  much more research is needed to know for sure if they’re genuinely helpful or safe for women long-term.
  • Hypnosis:  While hypnosis is sometimes used to manage things like hot flushes and sleep issues related to menopause, there isn’t strong evidence it works consistently.  Some women may find it helpful, but any benefits could be due to the power of suggestion.
  • Dietary Supplements: Be wary of supplements that make big promises about easing menopause symptoms. They’re not regulated in the same way as traditional medicines and might pose risks. Always speak to your doctor before taking any supplement, especially if you’re on other medications, as there could be interactions.
  • Ginseng:  Studies so far haven’t shown that either American or Korean ginseng reliably eases physical menopause symptoms like hot flushes. While ginseng might possibly offer some mood or sleep benefits, it’s not a go-to solution for menopause itself.

Important Things to Consider Before Trying Natural Remedies

Your Medications Matter:  Some natural remedies can negatively interact with prescription medications you might already be taking. St. John’s wort, for instance, is known to interfere with several types of medication.

These include:

Antidepressants: St. John’s wort can lead to dangerous side effects when combined with certain antidepressants, including those used for anxiety.

Birth Control Pills: It can reduce the effectiveness of both the combined and progesterone only pill, increasing the risk of unplanned pregnancy (We recognise this is less of a risk entering menopause, but the risk is not zero).

Blood Thinners: St. John’s wort can interfere with how blood thinners work, potentially leading to either unwanted bleeding or clotting.

Other Important Medications: This herb is also known to interact with medications used for heart conditions, HIV treatment, and those taken after organ transplants.

Citations:

[1] https://www.womenshealthnetwork.com/menopause-and-perimenopause/menopause-myths/

[2] https://www.amazon.co.uk/MENOPAUSE-New-Bible-Cure-Siloam/dp/0884196836

[3] https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/hormone-replacement-therapy-hrt/alternatives-to-hormone-replacement-therapy-hrt/herbal-remedies-and-complementary-medicines-for-menopause-symptoms/

[4] https://www.themenopausecharity.org/2021/10/21/the-myths-vs-the-facts/

[5] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/menopause-supplements

[6] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-natural-menopause-tips

[7] https://www.balancehormoneoklahoma.com/blog/10-myths-about-menopause

[8] https://www.verywellhealth.com/natural-remedies-for-menopause-that-actually-work-2322658

[9] https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/natural-remedies-for-hot-flashes

[10] https://www.uvmhealth.org/healthsource/dont-sweat-it-busting-six-menopause-myths

[11] https://www.womenshealthnetwork.com/menopause-and-perimenopause/herbal-remedies-for-menopause-symptom-relief/

[12] https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/womens-health/later-years-around-50-years-and-over/menopause-and-post-menopause-health/treating-menopause-symptoms/

[13] https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/menopause-misconceptions

[14] https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bible-Cure-Menopause-Remedies-Findings-ebook/dp/B00EN8NPES

[15] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/treatment/

[16] https://mcpress.mayoclinic.org/women-health/common-myths-of-menopause/

[17] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/natural-remedies-for-menopause

[18] https://zoe.com/learn/natural-remedies-for-menopause-symptoms

[19] https://www.prevention.com/health/health-conditions/a44553274/myths-about-menopause/

[20] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/natural-menopause-remedies

[21] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6419242/

[22] https://www.axahealth.co.uk/health-information/wellbeing/womens-health/menopause/mythbusters-menopause-myths/

[23] https://youtube.com/watch?v=jy-T4LRqPVk

[1] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/BlackCohosh-HealthProfessional/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3590693/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8102809/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10623319/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4029542/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8069620/

[7] https://www.healthline.com/health/evening-primrose-oil-menopause

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20216274/

[9] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317530

[10] https://www.hollandandbarrett.com/the-health-hub/conditions/womens-health/menopause/what-is-red-clover/

[11] https://www.naturesbest.co.uk/pharmacy/the-menopause/should-i-be-taking-evening-primrose-oil-for-menopause/

[12] https://www.menopausenaturalsolutions.com/blog/st-johns-wort

[13] https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/black-cohosh

[14] https://futureyouhealth.com/knowledge-centre/red-clover-menopause-benefits

[15] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8408320/

[16] https://futureyouhealth.com/knowledge-centre/st-johns-wort-and-menopause

[17] https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-black-cohosh

[18] https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-308/red-clover

[19] https://www.myvitamins.com/articles/lifestyle/evening-primrose-oil-for-menopause-benefits-side-effects/

[20] https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-st-johns-wort/art-20362212

[21] https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/black-cohosh

[22] https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-red-clover-89577

[23] https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-evening-primrose-oil

[24] https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/fulltext/2010/17020/effect_of_st_john_s_wort_on_severity,_frequency,.20.aspx

[25] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-black-cohosh

http://[26] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/red-clove

[27] https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/hormone-replacement-therapy-hrt/alternatives-to-hormone-replacement-therapy-hrt/herbal-remedies-and-complementary-medicines-for-menopause-symptoms/

[28] https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/treatment/complementary-alternative-therapies/individual-therapies/black-cohosh

[29] https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/natural-remedies-for-hot-flashes

[30] https://renuerx.com/nutraceuticals/the-benefits-of-evening-primrose-oil-during-menopause/

Citations:

[1] https://zoe.com/learn/natural-remedies-for-menopause-symptoms

[2] https://health.clevelandclinic.org/natural-menopause-remedies

[3] https://mcpress.mayoclinic.org/women-health/common-myths-of-menopause/

[4] https://youtube.com/watch?v=jy-T4LRqPVk

[5] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-natural-menopause-tips

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