Menopause is a natural process that for some women brings on a myriad of uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms usually come from imbalances your physiology that usually stem from poor choices in diet and lifestyle.
Common perimenopausal complaints include:
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes
- Loss of libido
- Dry skin
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings
- Memory problems
- Insomnia or sleep difficulties
- Joint and muscle aches and pains
After menopause, the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease also increase dramatically.
The Western Approach to Menopause
To combat perimenopausal symptoms, Western medicine developed synthetic feminine hormones. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was promoted as the fountain of youth. It was said to lower the risk of heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis. But several studies in the early 2000’s, including the Women’s Health Initiative, found mostly the opposite is true: women who take HRT have an increased risk of heart disease, strokes, blood clots, gall bladder disease and invasive breast and ovarian cancer. HRT does help osteoporosis, but not any more than a little weight bearing exercise and a diet high in calcium can.
The Eastern Approach to Menopause
Traditional systems of medicine, including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, say that menopause should be a time of gentle and easy transition. The hormonal changes at menopause are part of the natural progression of life. Symptoms only arise if you are out of balance—which usually develop from poor diet and lifestyle choices. Therefore, the best way to improve and control menopausal symptoms is to restore balance to the physiology through healthy diet and lifestyle choices. Then, if any symptoms are still present after you have made these changes, herbs and supplements may be added. If you don’t correct your habits that are creating the imbalances first, then herbs and supplements usually don’t work very well. It’s like trying to mop your floor dry, but forgetting to first turn off the faucet.
The Natural Prescription
Begin by cutting out the junk foods especially processed foods, sugar, red meat and excess alcohol. Instead favor organically grown fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and omega- 3 fatty acids. Also, it is important to
- Exercise regularly—even as little as 30 minutes of brisk walking every day can have profound benefits.
- Get the most out of your sleep by going to bed by 10 p.m. and get up before 6 a.m.
- Minimize stress by practicing an effective stress-reducing technique every day such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
In addition to these healthy diet and lifestyle changes, there are a variety of herbs that can help to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. For example, research shows that a standardized herbal root extract, called EstroG-100, can effectively reduce many of the symptoms associated with menopause. This formula is composed of three different well-studied plants from China and Korea.
- Cynanchum wilfordii is a key component of a famous Chinese herbal tonic that has been used for over a thousand years to enhance vitality. It is also been used in traditional Korean medicine to promote healthy aging.
- Phlomis umbrosa root has been also been used in China for thousands of years to support liver health and detoxification. Because of its strong anti-inflammatory properties, it is useful for a variety of other health conditions including pain relief.
- Angelica gigas root, also called Dang Gui, is an herb traditionally used in Korea to improve gynecological, cardiovascular and immune system health.
There have been number of studies, both in-vitro as well as in-vivo, that have confirmed the safety and efficacy of EstroG-100.
According to tests conducted by Chungbuk National University in South Korea, the herbs in EstroG-100 do not work through estrogen pathways.
A 2005 prospective randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial1 was conducted in South Korea with a total of 48 perimenopausal women who were followed for 12 months. At the end of 3 months, the women taking an herbal supplement containing EstroG-100 had significant improvements of their symptoms—in fact, five times better than the placebo group. At the end of 12 months, the herbal group also showed changes in bone markers, which are associated with improved bone density, as well as improvements in the levels of serum triglycerides and human growth hormone.
In another randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial2 conducted in California in 2012, 64 women pre-, periand post-menopausal women were assigned to either taking EstroG-100 (31 women) or a placebo (33 women). At the end of 12 weeks the Kuppermam menopausal index (KMI) score, which evaluates 11 symptoms, was significantly reduced in the EstroG-100 group compared to the placebo group. Improvements were seen in hot flashes, insomnia, nervousness, melancholia, dizziness, fatigue, and joint pain. There was also a statistically significant improvement in vaginal dryness in the EstroG-100 group.
A third randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled multi-center study of EstroG-100 has just completed with equally impressive results.3
No Need to Suffer
There’s no need to suffer with menopausal symptoms. This natural transition of life is meant to go smoothly. Making a few healthy diet and lifestyle changes can dramatically improve or resolve symptoms. There are also herbs that can bring some great relief. Be sure to choose an herbal supplement that has been proven by research to be effective, such as EstroG-100.
- Ki Ho Lee, Duck Ju Lee, Sang Man Kim, Sang Hyeun Je, Eun Ki Kim, Hae Seung Han, In Kwon Han, “Evaluation of Effectiveness and Safety of Natural Plants Extract(Estromon®) on Perimenopausal Women for 1Year,” J. Korea Soc. Menopause 2005: 11(1). 16–26
- Albert Chang, Bo-Yeon Kwak, Kwontaek Yi, Jae Soo Kim, “The Effect of Herbal Extract (EstroG-100) on Pre-Peri- and Post- Menopausal Women: A Randomized Double-blind, Placebocontrolled Study,” Phytother. Res. 2012(26): 510–6
- Duck Joo Lee, Tak Kim, Seok-Kyo Seo, “The Evaluation of the Efficacy and Safety of Herbal Extract (PAC-EX01: EstroG-100) on Menopausal Symptoms: 12 weeks, Multi Center, A randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study.” Submitted for publication.
Christine Horner, MD
Christine Horner, MD is a board-certified and nationally recognized surgeon, author, expert in natural medicine, and a relentless champion for women’s health. She spearheaded legislation in the 1990s that made it mandatory that insurance companies pay for breast reconstruction following mastectomy. She is the author of Waking the Warrior Goddess: Dr. Christine Horner’s Program to Protect Against and Fight Breast Cancer, winner of the Independent Book Publishers Award 2006 for “Best Book in Health, Medicine, and Nutrition.”