Women in ancient times sought to harness benefits from nature to treat menopause and reduce the symptoms.
The cycle of birth and death is inevitable. Each year, a new member is added to the mammal family and contributes to the chain of reproduction by adding fresh set of species to the generation of forefathers. On one hand, the birth of a child is considered a blessing for the family, but, on the other, lack of adequate family planning and unwanted pregnancies can be a burden. Ever wondered how a woman is able to give birth and reproduce biologically? Reproduction is a vital biological mechanism by which an organism is able to produce an offspring genetically similar to the organism and the process ensures the continuity of species. Menstruation is a recurrent phase during the process. The cycle begins as a female body undergoes to prepare itself for pregnancy. Denoted as a part of the monthly menstrual cycle occurring in the female reproductive system, the process makes pregnancy possible.
Menstruation, scientifically, is the process of vaginal discharge in the form of blood and other materials from the lining of the uterus at about a monthly interval from the onset of puberty until menopause, or ceasing of the regular menstrual flow, except during pregnancy. The discharge typically lasts for about 4-5 days. During perimenopause phase, menstrual periods get irregular and the flow may be heavier or lighter. With a bunch of herbal remedies, hormonal fluctuations can be balanced to a large extent and symptoms of menopause can be controlled. In the article below, let us look at some tips and herbs to tackle menopause.
Menopause – What is the ‘Ceasing’ Stage?
Menopause, also referred to as climacteric, is a phase in the life of a woman, when the menstrual periods stop permanently, and women are not able to bear children any longer. The phase normally occurs between 49 and 52 years of age, and medical professionals estimate that menopause takes place when a woman has not had any menstrual bleeding for over a year. The phase is also characterized by decreasing hormone production by the ovaries. Years preceding menopause are crucial, as the menstrual flow gets irregular, in the form it may be longer or shorter in duration or could be lighter or heavier in flow. Changing hormone levels result in hot flashes, lasting for about 30 seconds to ten minutes, accompanied by sweating, shivering, and reddening of skin. Other symptoms can range from vaginal dryness to trouble in sleeping and mood swings. With increasing age, heart rates are likely to increase and the symptoms can vary in each woman.
Natural Remedies to Treat Menopause
Women are challenged time and again by their physiological and psychological changes whether it is puberty time, menstruation or pregnancy. Menstruation and menopause are an essential phase in the life of a woman indicating changes in body leading to pregnancy which eventually stops as you become old. Getting older is a sign that your body is slowing down its functions and rate of metabolism and most of the activities we tend to perform while young are now starting to change. Menopause, undoubtedly, can be troublesome for some women leading to hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. But the symptoms are not meant to scare. Nature provides us with some natural remedies and herbs, which have been traditionally used and evidence suggests the quantum of herbs to soothe the pain and discomfort.
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Let us explore some of the herbal treatments for menopause.
- Black cohosh is an herb and the root is used for medicinal purposes. The herb was used initially by Native American Indians who further introduced it to European colonists. Black cohosh evolved as a popular treatment for women’s health issues during the mid-1950s in Europe.
- Black cohosh has been commonly used since the time to treat symptoms of menopause, along with painful conditions of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), painful menstruation, weaker bones or osteoporosis, and a host of other medicinal properties.
- It is believed that the root has similar effects to the female hormone estrogen, and the herb might increase the hormone effects in some parts of the body. In other parts, black cohosh might decrease the effects of estrogen as the hormone itself has various effects in different body parts. Black cohosh should not be considered as “herbal estrogen” or a substitute for estrogen as the herb is likely to act similar to the hormone in some people.
- Dong quai (Angelica sinensis), also known as female ginseng, is a form of Asian herb that closely resembles celery, carrot, and parsley. The herb develops in the cooler regions of Japan, Korea, and China.
- Dong quai is commonly used in traditional Chinese therapy to treat women’s health issues and ease symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause. A study performed in around 71 women to compare the effects of herb and placebo to treat hot flashes or vaginal dryness indicated no particular difference. Research indicating the use of dong quai along with other herbs like red clover, black cohosh, and chamomile, concluded that symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats were considerably reduced.
- Ginseng consists of eleven different varieties of a short, slow-growing plant bearing fleshy roots and a light-colored, forked-shaped root with green leaves. Both the varieties of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, L.) and Asian ginseng (P. Ginseng) are known to boost energy levels, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, reduce stress, treat diabetes and manage sexual disorders in men.
- Research indicates that ginseng is a ‘golden herb’ for some menopausal symptoms, including mood changes and sleep disturbances.
Evening Primrose Oil
- Evening primrose oil is a plant native to North and South America. The plant is also cultivated across Europe and parts of Asia. The plant bears yellow flowers opening at sunset and closing during day time. The oil from the seeds of primrose is essential to make medicine.
- Evening primrose oil is useful to treat premenstrual syndrome (PMS) along with symptoms of menopause, arthritis, swelling, and as a source of essential fatty acids. The herb is expected to relieve hot flashes. The oil consists of “fatty acids” and some women facing breast pain might not rely on excess quantity of certain fatty acids. Fatty acids are likely to reduce inflammation pertaining to arthritis and eczema.
Flax seeds (Linum usitatissimum), known as linseed are a rich source of lignans and have chemical structures and functions similar to those of hormone estrogen. Lignans are a group of molecular polyphenols found in plants, especially, seeds, whole grains and vegetables. Flax is used to reduce symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and bone loss pertaining to estrogen functions. Flax seeds reduce the frequency, quantity and duration of hot flashes. The seeds are nutrient-rich and a source of essential fibres to boost your metabolism.
- Valerian is an herb native to Europe and parts of Asia, chiefly growing in North America. The medicine is derived from the roots of the herb and is used to treat sleep disorders, inability to sleep (insomnia), and the medicine can be consumed orally to reduce anxiety and stress.
- Valerian is known to reduce symptoms of menopause as research indicates consumption of 675-1060 mg of valerian root daily for about 8 weeks to considerably reduce severity and occurrence of hot flashes during post menopause.
- Chaste tree berry, also known as monk’s pepper, is derived from the fruit of the chaste tree. It is widely believed that the name is derived from the Middle Ages when monks used the fruit to decrease their desires and remain chaste. Chasteberry contains phytochemicals including essential flavonoids that are useful for health. The fruit has several types of flavonoids influencing hormone levels in the body, especially prolactin, progesterone and a certain extent of estrogen.
- Chasteberry has been used since ancient time to treat menstrual problems as the fruit has vital abilities to maintain hormone levels in the body. The fruit has traditionally been used by breastfeeding women to increase milk supply and decrease levels of prolactin, contributing to breast pain.
Lifestyle Tips to Manage Menopause
Certain tips to keep your body healthy in menopause include:
- Getting enough exercise
- Practicing relaxation and breathing techniques to control stress
- Including a healthy diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Limiting the intake of alcohol and reducing smoking
- Getting plenty of rest
- Practicing Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles
- Seeking adequate medical aid for anxiety, mood changes and relationship concerns
- Menopause can be tough scenario with your body undergoing physical, mental and emotional changes. Decreased activity and limiting libido can lead to vaginal dryness, but can be effective for birth control. Increased vaginal blood flow helps to keep tissues healthy and as the person gets older, tissue begin to slacken and get mild with time.
- This is not a stage to panic. With careful planning and Ayurveda herbal remedies, symptoms can be reduced largely and can make your life glowing and happy. Make sure to inculcate a habit of regular exercise and a balanced, nutrient-rich diet for an ‘anxiety-free’ menopause.
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