Concerns have been raised over Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) safety when used long-term. This and other factors have some women experiencing symptoms moving to alternative therapies in the fight against symptoms of menopause. These women prefer to fight “naturally,” rather than suffer through it.
While there has been limited research on Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) related to menopause treatment, and results have been inconclusive for a number of reasons, some women swear by one or more of these (taken from a MayoClinic.com page on Menopause and Alternative medicine, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s web page on Menopausal Symptoms and CAM):
Phytoestrogens – Estrogens that occur naturally in certain foods. Types are isoflavones, and lignans. Isoflavones are found in soybeans, chickpeas and other legumes. Ligans occur in flaxseed, whole grains, and some fruits and vegetables. RISK=possible estrogen-like effects, so caution should be used related to breast cancer, etc.
Also Red clover has been tied to harmful effects to hormone-sensitive tissue, such as the breasts or uterus.
Vitamin E – May provide relief from mild hot flashes for some women. RISK=taking more than 400 IU per day of vitamin E supplements may not be safe.
Black Cohosh – Used widely in Europe for treating hot flashes, and popular in the US as well, its safety record has been good. RISK=has not been proven effective in treating hot flashes, and may cause liver damage.
Dong quai root – Taken to reduce hot flashes. RISK=if taking blood thinners (ex., warfarin), could increase the effects of the drug causing possible bleeding complications.
Ginseng – May help with mood symptoms, sleep disturbances, and overall sense of well-being. RISK=may not help with hot flashes.
Kava – May decrease anxiety. RISK=associated with liver disease, and may not help decrease hot flashes.
Soy – Could provide relief from hot flashes. RISK=long term use has been associated with the thickening of the uteral lining.
Regardless of which therapy you decide to try, or have heard is a Godsend, it is important to remember that every woman is different, and what may work for one person may not work for you.
Considering the risks weighed against possible benefits is a personal decision. Also, discuss it all with your doctor to ensure no conflicts either with other drugs or therapies they may have prescribed, or ones you are trying yourself.
“Menopause: Alternative Medicine,” www.MayoClinic.com
“Menopausal Symptoms and CAM,” www.nccam.nih.gov
Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. She started a women’s group, The Wo-Hoo! Society, in the interests of friendship, networking, and philanthropy. The group meets separately on a monthly basis in the Phoenix and Kansas City areas. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.