Menopause is a difficult time for women and comes with a whole host of physical, emotional and psychological issues.
Trying to deal with all of those things while also holding down a job or taking care of family can be exhausting and difficult.
While doctors may recommend medical intervention for the loss of estrogen during the menopause many women prefer more natural solutions.
We have found the best menopause supplements and herbs to help you cope with this transitional time of your life.
Menopause is a natural process and does not require a ‘cure’. However, women do need help managing the symptoms of the menopause which can cause real distress and discomfort.
We are going to look at some of the most commonly used and well known supplements and herbs that women use to manage their menopausal symptoms.
Black cohosh is one of the most studied supplements for the symptoms of menopause.
The supplement is made from the plant’s roots which is native to the eastern regions of North America and long used by Native Americans.
Like other flowering plant supplements black cohosh contains phytoestrogens which behave in a similar way to estrogen in women.
Clinical trials have shown it to be effective in reducing hot flashes and night sweats and in helping to reduce bone loss.
Red clover is another flowering plant that is commonly used as a supplement by menopausal women. It is a good source of isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen.
This mimics the estrogen in a woman’s body and so alleviates some menopausal symptoms.
The symptoms that red clover is used to treat include hot flashes, night sweats and bone loss. It has also been shown to help with joint pain.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is made from the seeds of the evening primrose. This is a flowering plant native to eastern and central North America.
The oil has been used to treat hot flashes and bone loss in menopausal women with mixed results.
Initial studies showed little effect on hot flashes, although later trials found users experienced a 10% reduction in hot flashes compared to those taking a placebo.
Maca is a vegetable that comes from the same family as broccoli and cabbage. It has been used for a long time as a traditional herb remedy for hormonal imbalances.
There isn’t a lot of evidence for the effectiveness of maca, but a couple of small trials have shown that it is more effective at boosting sex drive than a placebo.
It was also shown to reduce anxiety and depression.
Dong quai is an Asian herb that is also called female ginseng. In nature, it is a close relative of carrot, celery and parsley and is used in traditional Chinese medicine as an aid to women’s health including in menopause.
In studies, it was shown to be more effective when it is used in conjunction with other herbs and plants like black cohosh and red clover.
Soy is also a rich source of isoflavones which mimic estrogen and can exert weak estrogenic effects on the body.
Asian diets tend to have more soy and Asian women are more than 8 times less likely to experience hot flashes than American women.
While this is not conclusive proof of the positive effects of soy on menopausal symptoms, some studies have upheld this view. Soy is also said to help with bone loss.
Flax seeds contain rich sources of lignans which, like phytoestrogen in red clover and black cohosh, behave in a similar way to estrogen in the female body.
Taking flax seeds is believed to relieve the symptoms of hot flashes, mood swings and low libido.
Although the evidence is not conclusive, flax seeds are nevertheless a healthy food and are high in fiber and healthy fats.
Ginseng has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and is thought to boost immune function, energy levels and heart health.
Korean red ginseng is the most commonly studied in relation to menopausal symptoms.
Studies into the use of red ginseng seem to indicate that it may improve the mood as well as the sex drive of menopausal women.
It is also said to provide a general sense of well being.
Valerian is a supplement made from the roots of the valerian plant. It is used in a variety of herbal remedies to produce a sense of calm and relaxation. It has been called nature’s Valium.
For symptoms of menopause valerian is thought to reduce the incidence of hot flashes and help with insomnia.
Studies have demonstrated that when it is combined with lemon balm, valerian can improve sleep quality better than a placebo.
The dried fruit of the chasteberry tree has been used for generations to treat female reproductive health issues including menopausal symptoms.
It has been shown to relieve pelvic discomfort, hot flashes, poor sleep and mood swings.
Results from studies are promising for a lot of the benefits reported by uses of chasteberry, although it seems to have little effect on sexual dysfunction and depression.
With all of these different options available it can be tough to work out which ones will help you to deal with your menopausal symptoms.
Let’s take a look at the various issues you may have to face, and you can decide which supplement or herb is best for you.
One of the most common and widely experienced symptoms of the menopause is hot flashes.
This is where your temperature suddenly and without external cause starts to rise. It is a very uncomfortable feeling and can also be very embarrassing for women.
A hot flash is mostly felt in the upper body, across the chest, neck and face. This may look to others as if you are blushing and can make you feel awkward.
If this is the symptom that affects you the most or causes you the most discomfort then look for a supplement or herb that helps alleviate it.
Most of the products we looked at seem to help with hot flashes.
Unfortunately mood swings are another unpleasant symptom of the menopause. It can feel a little like having PMS but all the time instead of once a month.
However, this is more likely to happen in women who are perimenopausal, meaning they are not yet in full menopause.
These mood swings may settle down once you have entered menopause but if they don’t then there are supplements that you can take.
Of the supplements that we looked at, flax seeds and chasteberry seem to be the most promising when it comes to taming mood swings.
With the decline in estrogen levels in the body a low mood or even anxiety and depression can affect a lot of women.
While you can go to your doctor and ask for medical help with this there are also some herbal remedies that can help with your low mood.
Maca and ginseng may help to improve your mood while valerian may alleviate some of your anxiety and depression.
One of the physical symptoms of menopause is the loss of bone density in women as they age.
The reduction in estrogen can have serious implications for your bone health so look for supplements that can support it.
Of the herbs we looked at black cohosh, red clover, evening primrose oil and soy may help with bone loss and the potential future issue of osteoporosis.
There is also evidence that low vitamin D reduces the ability to absorb calcium so getting enough sunshine or taking vitamin D supplements can help.
Night sweats are hot flashes that occur at night and cause you to perspire, experience reddened skin and increased heart rate.
This symptom which is caused by the expansion of your blood vessels may be helped by some of the supplements we have looked at.
Black cohosh, and red clover are thought to be effective in the treatment of night sweats.
Loss Of Libido
Sexual dysfunction or the loss of libido are other problems that menopausal women have to deal with.
To help with some of these issues many of the supplements that we looked at can help.
Maca, flax seeds and ginseng are all thought to alleviate some of these symptoms.
Valerian is said to reduce anxiety and depression, both of which can exacerbate this delicate issue for menopausal women.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Natural Menopause Relief?
Supplements can help menopausal women in different ways. What works for one woman may not work for another.
Speak to your doctor about your symptoms and which natural remedies can help you best.
Which Supplements Should A Menopausal Woman Take?
There are many supplements available to menopausal women as we have seen. The symptoms will typically dictate which supplements will help the most.
If you are unsure, seek medical advice.