Many women prefer the process of menopause to be a natural one. The good news is that there are naturopathic means of easing many menopausal discomforts, including hot flashes, dryness and wrinkling of the skin, anxiety, and stress, as well as of improving the overall functioning of the immune system. There are also effective natural strategies for preventing or slowing the progression of some of the longer term consequences of estrogen deficiency, such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Even if you take hormone replacement therapy, dietary modification, nutritional and dietary supplements, herbs, and other naturopathic approaches can be used to great advantage.
NATURAL THERAPIES FOR THE SYMPTOMS OF MENOPAUSE
Many of the discomforts of the menopausal period can be helped with simple, natural treatments that you can use at home, such as increasing your consumption of foods that contain natural plant estrogens, drinking adequate amounts of water, taking selected nutritional supplements, and using specific herbs. Table 6.1 gives an overview of the nutritional and dietary supplements, herbs, and other measures recommended for some of the most common menopausal symptoms.
You can choose to use one, several, or all of the therapies recommended, and you can use these natural treatments either alone or in combination with hormone replacement therapy.
Natural Plant Estrogens
Over 300 different plants contain estrogenic substances. Although these are weak estrogens and are present only in tiny quantities, if foods containing them are consumed regularly, they can exert a mild estrogenic effect in humans.
Alfalfa contains a plant estrogen called coumestrol, which can actually cause infertility in animals that graze on large pastures of alfalfa grasses. Of all the plant estrogens, coumestrol is the most potent, although it is still 200 times weaker than human estrogens. The herb red clover also contains coumestrol and can be taken in the form of an herbal tea, or you can make fresh sprouts from red clover seeds. As some varieties of red clover are poisonous, however, it is best to obtain supplies from a reputable herbalist or health food store.
Soybeans, soybean sprouts, and flaxseed meal (crushed flaxseeds) are excellent sources of natural estrogens as well as of protein and essential fatty acids. They are definitely anti-aging foods for menopausal women. For a list of foods and herbs that are good sources of plant estrogens.