Enter your email to get updates, tips and exercises to help you experience healing and transformation.
You may be wondering whether there are herbs for menopause to help with hot flashes, insomnia, depression and irritability. The good news is yes, they absolutely can. They can also help with digestive issues, stress and anxiety, and hormone balancing as well as helping you avoid osteoporosis and heart disease.
We will discuss what to expect when using herbs for menopause, the safety of herbs, how to use herbs for nutritional support and to support different body systems. We will also discuss the best way to take different herbs for menopause and how to get the best quality.
I first began using herbs after a one-day class at the California Institute of Herbal Studies. I was so fascinated with the idea of being able to identify plants that could make you healthier and turn them into tinctures and teas, that I couldn't wait to get started. Unfortunately, even after a 6 or 8-hour class, I had no idea where to begin.
I guess I've come a long way since then, because I recently taught my son's fifth-grade class how to make cough syrup during their trip to Yosemite. Several parents came up to me with questions after that class. It was then that I realized I had become someone with the kind of knowledge I was once in awe of. It was a good feeling, but I say it mostly to let you know anyone can learn how to use herbs for menopause to improve their health.
What to Expect
Herbs have been used for health since at least 3000 B.C. In fact, synthetic drugs and high technology have only been in use since World War II. Before that time, herbal remedies were used as medicine. In America, the Eclectic physicians used botanical medicine and practiced for most of the 1800's and early 1900's.
Herbs for menopause, used correctly, are much gentler on your body and so if you are used to the strong and immediate effects of pharmaceuticals, you will need to readjust your expectations for herb-taking.
Herbs, as whole plants, contain many compounds that work together synergistically to support your body in it's healing process. The body already knows how to heal itself and very often will do so with a little help from the right plant or plants.
Pharmaceuticals, on the other hand, are highly concentrated chemicals that are targeted to block a physiological process in order to rid the body of a particular symptom.
For instance, if you have high blood pressure, you might end up with a prescription for a diuretic, which will lower the amount of fluid flowing through the vessels, which reduces the pressure.
However, diuretics cause a loss of potassium in your body. And one of the causes of high blood pressure is low potassium!
So, you take the diuretic and after awhile, it makes your blood pressure worse, not better (if low potassium is what's causing your problem). Then you get a stronger prescription, and so on.
Or, you could eat more foods or take herbal teas that are rich in potassium. No more high blood pressure, no side effects, because you are working with the source of the problem, rather than trying to eliminate a symptom.
Some menopause herbs work for acute conditions; others work to restore health and balance long-term.
As you reduce your reliance on drugs you don't need, like the ones that mask the symptoms of a cold, or mild pain relievers (which make it easier to re-injure yourself because you can't feel the pain, which is your body's wake-up call for you to do something different), and work with herbs, you will become more aware of subtle changes and responses in your body as you work with different plants.
Are Herbs Safe?
I read a lot of books and articles, often written by doctors or other health practitioners that either have alarming information about herbs for menopause or they dismiss them as ineffective and not worth considering. This is simply not true.
The history of herb use throughout the world since the Stone Age is evidence enough that herbs work. Most of the pharmacological drugs in this country were originated from substances in plants (herbs).
Side effects from drugs cause many, many more problems than herbs ever will (there are very few herbs that have the side effect potential of a drug), but you don't hear about them because it's not what the drug companies want you to hear about. But don't take my word for it -- it's easy enough to research this yourself. Go to the FDA website and look up drug safety alerts. Or see the side effects of Premarin, listed in The Physician's Desk Reference.
There is no such information about herbs because the side effects are relatively insignificant. Notice I said RELATIVELY. This does not mean there are no precautions to take, or that if a little works, more is better.
And if you are taking pharmaceuticals along with herbs, there is reason to become as informed as you can about potential interactions between the two. Get a copy of Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions by Francis Brinker and Nancy Stodart. Or check with an herbal practitioner or your doctor.
When first beginning to use herbs, start with teas and infusions of nutrient-dense herbs, then try tinctures or extracts.
Always identify the product you are buying by the botanical name. There are many different common names for different plants, and many varieties within a family: the herb you want is the specific one named here or in other herbal references.
For example, Hypericum is a common landscaping plant in my area, but it is NOT the one used for depression – that one is Hypericum perforatum. There are many ginsengs; Panax ginseng is very different from Eleutheroccus senticosus. For more, see ginsengs.
Getting the Best Quality
Herbs for menopause vary widely in quality. Getting the best quality requires knowing what you're looking for. Bulk herbs should look and smell fresh. If you're using the flowers for medicine, for example, red clover flowers, then you should be able to see the flowers. I have seen “red clover flowers” that look like cut up leaves and stems.
They are usually light green or brown. Red clover flowers are red (well, more like pink)! In this picture, you can see what a high quality batch looks like. Notice how the bunch on the left are fading in color? That is about as faded as you would want to see if you're first buying them – these have been sitting around for awhile.
For information on how to use herbs for different applications and the best way to take them, see herbal remedies for menopause.
For information on specific herbs, see;