In previous centuries many women did not even live until their menopause years due to poor economic conditions, deficiencies of medicine, epidemics and wars. Nowadays in the developed countries, people live until they are 75-80 years old, and with the expansion of average age, the number of people affected by menopause and the years spent in that state increase. Nowadays women spend one third of their lives in the menopausal stage. The only effective way to treat unpleasant symptoms for centuries was with the use of herbs …

Remport J, Blázovics A.

"Phytoestrogens in the treatment of menopause", Orv Hetil. 2017;158(32):1243-1251

Plant based medicine (also known as phytotherapy or herbal medicine) is based on the knowledge of how to use plants and herbs to cure or ease certain dis-eases. A plant (or part of it) contains many active compounds that can affect our body and which may lead to the easing or a cure of symptoms.

WHO IS PLANT-BASED MEDICINE FOR?

Plant-based medicine works well for those with mild symptoms and who want to avoid synthetic hormones and as part of a balanced lifestyle but although it works for some, plant-based medicine can also harm. For example, it should not be used as a DIY healthcare for those with cancer.

HOW TO USE PLANTS AS MEDICINE

Plant based medicine can include food, the environment herbs and oils (think infusions, vinegars, tinctures, teas and extracts.)

When using plants as medicine, it is best to use food in it’s original form.

FOR EXAMPLE:

Just one cup of chopped broccoli provides 92 micrograms of vitamin K, well over 100 percent of your daily need. Consuming an adequate amount of vitamin K improves bone health by improving calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.

Broccoli also contributes to your daily need for calcium, providing 43 milligrams in one cup. In addition, you are getting the benefit of the fibre which in turn helps towards a healthy bowel to get rid of excess oestrogen.

PLANT-BASED MEDICINE & MENOPAUSE

“Approximately two thirds of women who reach menopause develop menopausal symptoms, primarily hot flashes. Hormone therapy long was considered the first-line treatment for vasomotor symptoms [hot flashes]. However, given the results of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), many women are reluctant to use exogenous hormones for symptomatic treatment and are turning to botanicals and dietary supplement (BDS) products for relief.” ~ Stacie E Geller, Laura Studee

Phytoestrogens are found in more than 300 plants. These are weak oestrogens that bind to receptors throughout the body and may help block the action of other more potent oestrogens.

Phytoestrogens are adaptogenic, so the same plant/herb can be used for conditions where there is too little oestrogen (hot flushes) or too much (PMS symptoms).

Foods which contain phytoestrogens include:

  • beans,
  • soy products,
  • peas,
  • lentils, and
  • whole grains and seeds, especially flaxseed, rye and millet

HERBS FOR MENOPAUSE

The most popular herbs for women experiencing problems with menopause include:-

  • Black cohosh,
  • red clover,
  • chaste-tree berry,
  • dong quai,
  • evening primrose,
  • ginkgo,
  • ginseng and
  • liquorice

Please note: There are very few clinical studies on their efficacy and safety and some of these herbs have powerful hormone-like effects; women should not assume they are harmless. {For example, this review discusses toxicity-related issues and major safety concerns arising from the use of herbal medicinal products and also highlights some important challenges associated with effective monitoring of their safety.}

Consulting a specialist is always recommended before embarking on the use of plant based medicine.

We cannot doubt the efficacy of plant based medicine but as per the advice of NHS “just like conventional medicines, herbal medicines will have an effect on the body, and can be potentially harmful if not used correctly. They should therefore be used with the same care and respect as conventional medicines.”

Find out how reflexology can help with menopause symptoms, like hot flashes in my blog post here: Hot Flashes: Reflexology & Menopause

Or read about xenoestrogens here. 

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