Thursday, May 23, 2019

Menopause Treatment Plan: How To Properly Treat Your Symptoms

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Black Cohosh Treatment

Black cohosh is a popular natural, herbal remedy for the symptoms of menopause. What is this plant, or root, and where does it come from?

Cohosh is a Native American word that means “knobby rough roots,” which describes the appearance of the plant’s roots. It is a perennial woodland plant that is a member of the buttercup family. It grows in the eastern United States and Canada, from about 4 to 8 feet tall and has feathery white flowers. The root of the plant is what is used in herbal remedies, thus the “knobby rough roots”.

This remedy has been used for centuries to treat a variety of issues, including those pesky menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, sleeplessness, night sweats, vaginal dryness and heart palpitations.

Why does cohosh provide relief to women experiencing menopause?

Studies have been inconclusive, and it is not fully understood how the plant root works in our body.

Although most have concluded that there are no dangers in this natural remedy, always consult a physician before beginning any type of menopause relief program.

Black cohosh is not found in any foods so it must be taken as a dietary supplement.

Black cohosh supplementation

A typical daily dose used in studies has been 20 to 40 milligrams, twice daily, of a standardized extract.

If you are unsure of the dosage that will work for you, talk with your family physician, as every woman’s menopause symptoms and individual systems are different. Note that more than 900 milligrams a day of cohosh is considered an overdose.

If you are currently using hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, to control your menopause symptoms, your physician may tell you to discontinue that if you wish to begin using cohosh as part of your treatment plan.

That is what I did recently…I made the decision to switch from traditional HRT therapy to black cohosh plus several other vitamins and supplements. Three months later I am doing well, with just a few moderate hot flashes a day. I can live with that!

What are the side effects of using cohosh?

The potential side effects from cohosh include headaches and upset stomach. Side effects usually occur at high doses.

There have been some people who may have developed liver problems after using black cohosh, the specifics of which are still being investigated.

If you have a pre-existing liver condition or you take medication that may affect the liver, be sure to consult with your physician before starting a program with this supplement.

If you take blood pressure medication, sedatives or birth control pills, be sure to talk with your health care provider if you are considering the use of cohosh.

All that said, black cohosh has been around for hundreds of years, providing natural relief from menopause symptoms. Perhaps it will be the right choice for you!

Hormonal Imbalance Caused by Menopause

For women, perimenopause and menopause stages of life can be the main contributor to this, and can result in life disrupting changes to our systems.

Why do our systems become hormonally imbalanced?

The levels of estrogen and progesterone are no longer flowing as they did in our child bearing years, so that all-important, precise balance is disrupted. And other life choices and situations such as stress, diet, exercise (or lack of it) can all contribute to hormone imbalance.

The result? You guessed it. Hot flashes, weight gain, changes in sleep patterns, night sweats, depression, mood changes…it’s not a very happy list, is it?

Happily, there are several approaches that a woman can take to relieve the symptoms of hormone imbalance. Each has it’s pros and cons, and there is no one right choice for every woman. It is a very personal decision.

First, assess your lifestyle choices. How much regular exercise do you get? What type of food do you eat, and in what quantity? How about beverages, including water, alcohol and caffeine? Do you regularly get a good night’s sleep? Does your daily routine include taking supplemental vitamins?

I know…so many questions! But, making a conscious decision to pay attention to these daily habits and patterns can have a significant impact on hormonal imbalance issues.

So here are some simple actions you can take that require some self discipline but will help regulate your body in a natural way:

  • Exercise regularly, including cardio and strength building exercises
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, keep processed food to a minimum, and remember that protein is your friend.
  • Drink lots of water; keep caffeine and alcohol to a minimum (or exclude from your diet if possible)
  • Don’t deprive your body of the sleep it needs – 7 to 8 hours per night if possible
  • Supplement your diet with vitamins B,C,D & E. Most importantly, search for products that help balance your hormones the natural way.

Incorporate these lifestyle choices into your daily routine and you may find that the symptoms of menopause caused by hormonal imbalance are less invasive than before.

Many women find that they need to address these life changes with more than diet and exercise, and herbal remedies have proven helpful for many.

There are two types of herbs used, phytoestrogenic and non-estrogenic herbs.

  • Black Cohosh is an example of a phytoestrogenic herb, which contains estrogenic components produced by plants. This herb introduces plant based estrogens into the body, which may help address the symptioms of menopause.
  • Non-estrogenic herbs do not contain estrogen. They work by gently and gradually nourishing specific glands in your body which causes them to produce natural hormones more efficiently. An example of a non-estrogenic herb is Macafem, and can be found in a product called MacaActive.

For women searching for ways to eliminate hormone imbalance, these natural treatments might be a possible solution.

Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT, is another method of dealing with the hormonal changes that menopause brings. It is not a choice for everyone. Studies have shown some correlation between HRT and medical issues as a result of longer term use. PremPro is one type of HRT treatment that is commonly prescribed.

Every woman is unique and what might work for you might not be as effective for someone else.

But we can all start with healthy lifestyle modifications to minimize the hormonal imbalances that mid life brings.

Prempro for Menopause

Prempro is an option for women experiencing the symptoms of menopause.

Find out more about this type of hormone replacement therapy. Is it right for you?

If you are reading this page right now, chances are you’re a woman over the age of 45 experiencing the symptoms of menopause…hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings…oh boy.

We all go through this change in mid-life, but how we treat these symptoms can vary dramatically. And, there is no right answer for every women experiencing menopause. It is a personal decision based on overall health, severity of symptoms and what a woman is willing to do to minimize them.

First, always talk to your physician about your menopause symptoms and what your options may be, particularly when it comes to using hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, such as Prempro.

What is Prempro?

It is a combination of 2 types of female hormones: conjugated estrogens (estrogen hormones)and progestin.

Together these hormones help to treat the symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, burning, and irritation, and to prevent osteoporosis, which is a thinning of the bones

Another common low dose is 0.45 mg/1.5 mg, which your physician may prescribe if the lowest dose does not effectively treat your symptoms.

This type of treatment for menopause is not intended for long term use; just long enough to help women deal with the most severe symptoms.

I can speak from experience, as I used this HRT treatment for about five years and it dramatically reduced my hot flashes, mood swings and any issues I had with night sweats (I’m fortunate to say that night sweats don’t come often for me).

My dosage was the lowest at 0.3 mg/1.5 mg and I never had to increase that amount to find relief for menopause symptoms.

About four months ago I decided to look for other alternatives, not because I was having any problems or experiencing side effects. I wanted to see what the reaction of my body would be to eliminated this HRT treatment. So I quit taking it.

For a couple of weeks I noticed no significant changes.

Then the warm flushes began…then a hot flash here and there…then the mood swings started to return.

I realized that I still needed some type of treatment for my menopause symptoms, but determined that five years on Prempro was enough for me.

So I am now working with vitamin supplements and other natural remedies that are working quite well for me.

What are the potential side effects of using Prempro?

In most cases, women tolerate this treatment well and do not experience any serious side effects. Other women may experience headaches, back pain, and joint pain. These side effects are typically mild and easily treated.

However, you should notify your physician immediately if you develop any serious reactions, such as chest pain, vision changes, or heavy vaginal bleeding.

There are more serious risks that could potentially come into play in postmenopausal women. Estrogen when used with a progestin can increase the risk of heart disease (such as heart attacks), stroke, serious blood clots in the lungs/legs, dementia, and cancer of the breast/ovaries.

So it comes back to the decision making process that each woman will have to make along with the advice and counsel of her physician.

Prempro may be the right choice for you, for a limited period of time, to reduce the symptoms of menopause and increase your quality of life.

Natural Hormone Replacement

We all want to stop hot flashes for sure. What are the natural alternatives to traditional hormone replacement therapy?

First, let’s look at something that we all have available to us on a daily basis, and is the food that we consume. There are foods, a lot of them actually, that are considered a natural form of hormone replacement because they contain phytoestrogen, a natural estrogen.

Not only do these foods contain phytoestrogen, they are also nutritious and help fight disease. How great is that?

Two of the most effective foods for natural hormone replacement are flaxseed and soy.

Benefits of Flax Seed for Menopause

Flax seeds contain a hormone-balancing substance known as lignins, and with regard to symptoms of menopause they can be very effective in lessening hot flashes and sweating.

I have been taking ground flax seed for awhile now, sprinkling it on yogurt and cereal, as a source of daily fiber. The added benefit of a naturally improving your hormones makes this nutty tasting food supplement even more important to my daily food intake.

In addition, there are studies that have shown that as little as 2 tablespoons of flax seed per day can be highly effective in reducing tumor growth in colon and breast cancer.

Benefits of Soy for Menopause

Soy is another natural source for balancing hormones. It is rich in phytoestrogen and can be helpful in moderation.

One simple way to include these natural hormone replacement foods is to take one cup of soy yogurt mixed with one tablespoon fresh ground flax seed into your daily diet. I would vary the choices and use this alternative in moderation.

Here are a variety of other foods that contain phytoestrogen. It is recommended that we include a variety of these foods in our diet, and keep the daily intake to 30 to 50 mg.

Which foods are rich in phytoestrogen?

  • Soy
  • Millet
  • Barley
  • Flax seed
  • Lentils
  • Kidney bean
  • Lima beans
  • Rye
  • Clover
  • Fennel
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

Other foods containing the estrogen compound phytoestrogen include:

Apples, Alfalfa sprouts, Barley, Brussel sprouts,Celery, Parsley, Beets, Black-eye peas, Bok choy, Broccoli, Brown rice, Bulgur, Cauliflower, Carrots, Cherries, Cucumbers, Mushrooms, Navy beans, Oats, Olives, Pears, Plums, Pumpkin seeds, Prunes, Red beans, Seaweeds, Split peas, Squash, Sunflower seeds, Tomatoes, Wheat germ

Do you see a pattern here? Not only are these foods helpful to us as we experience menopause, they are also good for us. Most of these foods will help us maintain or even lose weight during menopause. Menopause weight gain help for sure!

So make fruits, legumes and vegetables a part of your daily diet for all of these important reasons.

Natural estrogen compounds are bioidentical types of estrogen, and are available by prescription from compounding pharmacists. The basis for this type of therapy is that the estrogen in these compounds is chemically equal to the estrogen produced naturally in your body.

Natural hormones are obtained from sterol analogues found in many varieties of plants, primarily soybean and yam. The estrogen and progesterone powder is transformed chemically from the plant into the human bio-identical hormones.

The goal of natural hormone therapy is to alleviate the symptoms caused by the decrease in hormone production and bring the body back to hormonal balance. Another goal of natural hormone therapy is to imitate the body’s natural processes as much as possible, thereby eliminating the unwanted effects and long term risks of the traditional synthetic hormone replacement therapies.

Your physician must write a prescription for you, which you take to a compounding pharmacy. The pharmacist creates a customized dosage just for you.

It is important to note that these natural hormone replacements are not FDA approved. Some are available over the counter, but most must be created by a compounding pharmacy.

If you are interested in this type of hormone replacement therapy it would be important to do your research and then speak to your physician about it.

Natural progesterone is an important component in menopausal symptom management for many women. It’s available over-the-counter in products such as Pro-Gest cream.

The benefit of using a cream product over an oral form is that you need a much lower dose because it does not have to be metabolized by the liver.

Whatever you decide, know that there are simple and cost effective ways to naturally deal with hormone replacement during menopause. Do your research and determine which treatment will work best for you.

Natural Progesterone Cream

A progesterone cream is another alternative to synthetic hormone treatments, and thus is the treatment of choice for many women going through menopause.

Find out more about this safer, natural alternative to alleviate symptoms of menopause.

As a women who has been experiencing the signs and symptoms of menopause for about six years, I understand the importance of finding a treatment that is safe, yet effective. I’m always up for minimizing the hot flashes and mood swings…how about you?

Progesterone cream is produced by processing the Mexican Wild Yam, which has the same molecular makeup as the progesterone hormone produced by your body. It is absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream.

Thus it is available without a prescription, one of the benefits of utilizing this type of menopause treatment.

The cream is applied topically and absorbed into your system. It can be applied on various areas of the body, including face, hands, chest, breast, inner arms, or soles of feet. The cream absorbs within a few minutes, although this varies from person to person, and once absorbed into the system leaves no residue.

Some women require more of the progesterone cream than others to alleviate their symptoms. One suggestion is to use one 2 ounce container per month for a few months, then start using less and see if your symptoms reappear.

Please remember that reading the instructions for properly using natural progesterone creams are no different than any other type of treatment. Most will tell you to avoid using the cream for five days each month.

Side effects of progesterone creams are few because of the natural type of treatment that it is. Some studies have shown that trouble sleeping could be an indicator of progesterone overdose.

However, just like any other type of treatment, consult your physician before starting or changing methods of treating menopause symptoms. It is advised that progesterone levels be checked yearly to make sure they are in balance with the rest of your body’s hormones.

Natural Sleep Aids

Women experiencing signs of menopause may also find help from natural sleep aids.

Many people, myself included, do not like to take over the counter or prescription medication. We prefer to use natural products when needed, and difficulty sleeping is one of those situations.

There are a number of lifestyle choices, or actions, that can be taken to help reduce sleep issues. And the price is right, too, because for the most part these remedies don’t cost a thing:

  • Exercise
    Go for a walk for 30 minutes a day. Or practice yoga, for example. It is important to get your body moving, to help relax, reduce stress and even lose some weight.
  • Spend some time in natural light during the day.
    Many folks don’t realize that a very simple natural sleep aid is to get enough light during daytime hours. If we don’t, our biological clock might be upset and our brain won’t receive the sleep signal when we want to go to sleep at night.Thirty minutes of light (go for a walk outside as mentioned above and both of these will be taken care of!) each day will help you stay on track. Or, use a bright light made to mimic sunlight if you must remain indoors.
  • Take a hot bath in the evening
    The warm water helps to relax your muscles, and, your core body temperature will drop afterwards. This sends a sleep signal to your brain. You might try soft music or essential oils, too, to aid in relaxation.
  • Establish an evening routine.
    If you can go to bed around the same time each night, and get up at a consistent time in the morning, it will reinforce your natural biological rhythm and help your brain send a sleep signal.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal right before going to bed
    Try to eat your evening meal several hours before you go to bed. If you have a snack, eat protein and not heavy carbs. This will also help you with a weight loss or weight maintenance plan, too…an added benefit.

If you want to try other types of natural sleep aids, consider these alternatives:

MELATONIN – is a hormone produced in the pineal gland in the center of your brain. Melatonin regulates the body’s circadian rhythms. Those are daily rhythms such as your sleep-wake cycle. The levels of melatonin in the blood are highest prior to bedtime.

This natural hormone has been found to improve sleep by decreasing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Melatonin may also increase feelings of sleepiness and increase the duration of sleep.

Many studies have shown that as little as 0.1 to 0.3 milligrams may be enough for most people. Experts suggest that the fast-release melatonin is possibly more effective as a sleep remedy than the slow-release formulas.

Herbal Teas & Remedies

Chamomile

Chamomile is an herb that is extremely popular as an herbal sedative and is most often ingested as a tea.

It has been used for years to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders, as well as other health conditions including anxiety, indigestion, menstrual issues and migraines.

Valerian Root

Valerian Root is a very popular herbal sleep aid that is taken in capsule form or made into tea.

Because its effects are milder, those who use valerian root often find that they awaken more easily, and do not feel as groggy as they would had they taken prescription sleep medication.

Catnip

Catnip (yes, catnip) is a member of the mint family which is grayish-white in color and native to Europe and Asia. The heart-shaped leaves and white or pale lavender tubular flower tops are used to make the catnip supplement for a sleep as well as other medical uses.

A cup of hot catnip tea right before bedtime or a pillow stuffed with dried catnip leaves can be an effective natural sleep aid.

Lavender

Lavender aromatherapy can be used as an essential oil in diffuses, potpourri or light rings to distributed the scent in the area before going to sleep.

Kava

Kava is an herb that is commonly used as a homeopathic treatment for anxiety, and because of its relaxing qualities, is also often used as a sleep aid.

Kava is a member of the pepper family, and grows mainly in the South Pacific islands. Kava root is brewed into a tea or can be found in capsule, tablet, and liquid extract forms.

Before beginning any of these home treatments and/or herbal remedies, consult with your physician to make sure that the herbs will not interact with other medications or health conditions and cause adverse effects.

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Gloria Brown
Women's health and wellness retreat leader providing vacations and trips for women to get in shape -- and stay that way! On CleansePlan.com you can find my articles about weight loss, health and women's issues. Please feel free to contact me on [email protected]

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