Botanicals to Ease Menopause
Why does menopause have negative connotations? I have yet to experience the transition so I speak from an outsiders perspective (I like to think I’m kind of an ‘insider’ given how closely I work with such women). Nonetheless, I challenge us to view menopause as a NEW BEGINNING; a beginning with fewer family obligations, new opportunities for self-growth and new adventures.
Menopause is defined as 12 months after your last period and typically happens between ages 50-52. Women usually start experiencing a change in their cycle around ages 40-58 and this change typically lasts 4 -7 years before menopause. The time preceding menopause is called perimenopause and it’s marked by irregular periods and fluctuating hormones. With proper understanding and an adequately informed health-care practitioner, the majority of women can experience a happy and healthy menopausal transition.
This being said, there is definite change occurring during the perimenopause and menopausal time. Some women’s change goes nearly unrecognized while others experience symptoms. 75-90% of women will have symptoms that come, go and stop without any treatment.
The common signs and symptoms of perimenopause include:
This week I highlight by top three botanical medicines for menopause --
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa) – There are over 125 published scientific papers and presentation on the efficacy and safety of standardized black cohosh extract in perimenopause and menopause. In one of the largest studies, 629 women with menopausal complaints received black cohosh twice daily for 6-8 weeks. As early as four weeks into the trial, a clear improvement in menopausal ailments was seen in almost 80% of the women. After 6-8 weeks, complete resolution of symptoms occurred in about 50% of women (1). Not all studies show that black cohosh is efficacious. Black cohosh is somewhat controversial so consult with your physician before initiating treatment. 40 mg daily is the most common dosage, however better results may be seen with 40 mg twice daily. One should expect results in within four weeks.
Maca (Lipidium peruvianum) – A cruciferous root growing exclusively in the central Peruvian Andes at 12,000-14,000 ft. There are 175 maca species and not all exert the same physiologic response so careful with your choices. I recommend maca from femmenessence because of the research behind it. Women taking 1000 mg twice daily had improvements in hormone levels and subjective questionnaire after 2 months of treatment (2).
Pine Bark: 100 mg given twice daily for 6 months improved peri-menopausal symptoms of: depression, vasomotor symptoms, memory, anxiety, sexual function and sleep in as soon as one month (3). You can find this under the name pycnogenol that is an extract of French Maritime Pine. Studies use dosages 30-100 mg 1-2 times daily.
Stolze H. “An alternative to treat menopausal symptoms with a phytotherapeutic agent.” Med Welt 1985; 36:871-74.