Every woman's reproductive cycle is governed by four key hormones: oestrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In the years approaching and following menopause, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone gradually decrease, while FSH and LH dramatically increase. The result is typically an unpleasant constellation of symptoms. You can ease this transition by bringing down your LH and FSH levels while increasing oestrogen in the body. Your doctor may recommend oestrogen-replacement therapy, but you can also ask her to cooperate as you incorporate some herbal supplements that are often used to ease menopause symptoms.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Your choice of the following supplements in tablet, capsule or tincture form:
- Black cohosh
- Chaste berry (vitex)
- Dong quai
- Vitamin E
- Essential oil of basil or thyme
Control your diet. Minimise spicy or acidic foods. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in processed foods. Add soy and flaxseed to your diet, both of which have oestrogen-like properties that help lower LH and FSH levels in your blood. Cut down on caffeine and alcoholic drinks, and eliminate tobacco products completely.
Reduce your stress levels. Try yoga or t'ai chie exercise, or just take a walk each day. Use controlled breathing exercises (inhaling through your nose for a count of four, then exhaling through your mouth for another four) whenever you feel stress---which exacerbates menopause symptoms---coming on.
Try aromatherapy. Carry a few drops of the essential oil of basil or thyme on a cotton ball in a snack-sized plastic bag, and inhale the oil deeply whenever a hot flush hits you. You can also use these essential oils in a warm bath.
Take supplements containing black cohosh, chaste berry, dong quai, ginseng, hops or liquorice---these herbs have natural components that work similar to human oestrogen, and can work to lower LH and FSH levels. Consult a herbalist or the expert at your health-food store for guidance, and follow directions carefully.
Tips and warnings
- Many of these herbs have been found to work more effectively when taken in conjunction with vitamin E.
- Always check with your doctors and your pharmacist about any supplements you plan to take, as they may have unwanted interactions with prescribed medications.
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