This month, we asked Hannah Charman MNIMH, Medical Herbalist, to give us her view on the menopause and why nature really does know best.
If you’re reading this, you might well be pondering your options for getting through menopause. The chances are that this isn’t all you’ve been reading about it either, and nobody would blame you if you weren’t somewhat confused by all the conflicting messages about menopause out there. So here’s my take on it, which I hope you’ll find helpful.
Despite what you may have heard, menopause isn’t necessarily the harbinger of doom we’re told. The menopause industry has grown considerably over the last few years, and not only in pharmaceutical terms. There are now private Doctors, Nurses, and Counsellors who specialise in supporting women through menopause.
There are also specific social media groups, and companies who advise both employers and their staff about their legal rights and obligations at work, so it’s becoming quite a ‘thing’. Whilst it’s great that women are being invited to talk more openly and get the support they need, we can sometimes be lead to believe that we have no hope of getting through without a lot of help.
If you’re struggling with your menopause, your Doctor will generally offer you a form of HRT, or an antidepressant. The HRT is now reputed to be considerably safer than in the past, and Doctors advise us that the risk of cancer is much lower, but many women still have concerns about using it. Patients coming to me are worried about the effects that the HRT will have, as well as the ethical and environmental impacts. Oestrogens are making their way into our water courses, affecting the fertility of fish (1) and possibly contributing to our girls starting their periods younger than before. And you may be interested to know that certain forms of HRT are made from the urine of pregnant horses who are kept in rather inhumane conditions (2). Thankfully these brands aren’t commonly used nowadays, but if animal welfare is high on your agenda, you may prefer to avoid them.
So what’s the alternative?
Making even simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can go a long way towards helping you through menopause. Daily weight-bearing exercise can help protect you from osteoporosis, as bones will generally be as strong as they need to be. Bone broths also contain all the vitamins and minerals needed for good bone density in the right proportions, so you could make some and add them to your soups and sauces. And making sure you get plenty of Omega 3 essential fatty acids can really help to keep mental health and inflammation in check.
Then there are the phyto-oestrogens. Whilst the finer details are quite hard to explain, they’re basically substances from plants which have a weak oestrogenic effect in the human body. There are about 6 kinds altogether, including the saponins which are used to make some forms of mainstream HRT, and consuming a good variety of phyto-oestrogenic foods and herbs can make the transition through menopause much easier. Speak to a Medical Herbalist, Nutritionist or Naturopath for advice tailored to you, as there are circumstances in which certain phyto-oestrogens are not deemed safe.
Once your hormones have ‘done their thing’ you can support your liver in clearing out the old ones by eating some liver-loving foods. Liver itself is right up there, but if you’d prefer a plant version, beetroot, artichoke, and dandelion root coffee are all good choices. You can also help maintain healthy levels by including plenty of fibre and probiotic foods in your diet.
Herbs have always been a great help for women going through menopause, and it’s the only condition which Doctors are allowed to recommend herbs according to the NICE guidelines. Working with a Medical Herbalist, Naturopath or Nutritionist will make sure your herbal natural medicines and supplements are tailored to suit you, taking into account any illnesses you may have had in the past, and any medication you’re taking. You can find out more at www.physichealth.uk
At The Naked Pharmacy, there are a number of natural medicines that could also help with menopausal symptoms. Vogel’s Menoforce is an excellent natural remedy for hot flushes and night sweating. Saffrosun® for highly concentrated organic saffron stamens is amazing for nervous system balance, edginess, mood and fatigue.
Fancy a browse? Saffrosun High Strength Saffron for Emotional Balance