As you mop your brow following no doubt another interrupted night’s sleep, it may come as little consolation to learn that many cultures believe that menopause should be celebrated as a new era in a woman’s life.
Stages of menopause
Menopause generally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 but in some women it can begin much earlier. In others menopause begins as late as 65. For most women there are three phases: peri-menopause or menopause transition, where you still have periods but they may be heavier or lighter than usual; menopause, when ovarian function declines, oestrogen levels drop off and periods stop, and post-menopause, which officially begins 12 months after your last period – but it’s safer to wait 2 years before assuming it’s all finished!
Throughout all three phases of menopause, hormones tend to run amok. Symptoms of menopause can include hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. Low mood and mood swings, thinning hair, headaches, tiredness, loss of libido and loss of bone mass are also symptoms associated with menopause.
Although every menopause is different, approximately 75% of women in the Western World will experience one or more symptoms, which is hardly cause to crack open the bubbly.
Natural menopause remedies
Happily, there are a number of natural remedies that can help smooth the transition into menopause and beyond.
Right at the top of this list is sage. One of our oldest medicinal plants, sage appears to have a rebalancing effect on the hypothalamus, which is an area of the brain responsible for sweat regulation.
When you go through menopause your ovaries produce less of the hormone oestrogen and this drop in oestrogen causes the hypothalamus to work extra hard to maintain hormone levels, upsetting its sweat-regulating function. This causes sudden surges in temperature and the uncomfortable ‘hot flush’ you may experience.
Sage helps to correct sweat regulation and reduce hot flushes. Fresh sage tincture diluted in a little water three times daily can really help. Try A.Vogel Menosan Sage Drops or for extra oomph, Menoforce Sage tablets. They provide a concentrated dose of organically grown sage for relief of excessive sweating associated with menopausal hot flushes, including night sweats.
2. Isoflavones and menopause
Isoflavones can also help to reduce menopause symptoms. Oestrogen-like plant hormones or ‘phytoestrogens’, isoflavones help to reduce hot flushes by providing an additional hormone boost when oestrogen levels are low. They may also help with other symptoms of menopause such as fatigue and irritability.
Good food sources of soy isoflavones are foods made from fermented soya, such as natto, tempeh and miso. Indeed, in Japan, where soya is a dietary staple, less than 25% of menopausal women are reported to suffer with hot flushes.
Alternatively an isoflavone supplement can help. A.Vogel’s Menopause Support provides soy isoflavones, magnesium and hibiscus extract and can be used to help with all stages of menopause.
Menopause and diet
Other foods that naturally contain phytoestrogens include chickpeas, peanuts, flax seeds, barley, grapes, berries, plums, and green and black tea.
Increasing your intake of organic fruit and vegetables, which are naturally packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre, will help you to maintain a healthy weight.
Dairy products, such as yoghurt, skimmed milk and cheese, contain vitamins and minerals important for bone health, such as vitamins D and K, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Spinach, broccoli, beans, peas, sardines and pilchards are also excellent food sources of calcium and bone-friendly nutrients.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) can also help with many menopause symptoms, including thinning hair, nails and skin. The main contenders here are omega-3, found in flax seed oil, omega-6, found in hemp and omega-9, which is naturally present in pumpkin seeds.
Finally, if flushes and night sweats are affecting your sleep, a little Valerian tincture taken half an hour before bedtime should help you to drift off.