Herbal remedies are an option for many women in the management of perimenopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats and vaginal changes.
Not all the symptoms experienced by women in midlife are the result of declining oestrogen levels. Herbal therapies can help to manage mood changes such as anxious thoughts and depressed feelings, as well as help with fatigue and low energy.
Stress Reducing Herbal Remedies
Hops, Motherwort, Kava-Kava, Skullcap, Lime Blossom and Valerian may be useful in reducing stress and nervousness throughout the body and treat anxiety by calming the nervous system.
Herbal Remedies for Low Libido
Many cultures use herbs that traditionally have had a reputation for increasing libido. It is not clear whether these herbs actually stimulate a sexual urge, or act as general tonics – increasing energy and vitality and supporting a steady emotional state, thus making the idea of sex more appealing.
There are many factors that can influence a woman’s libido including her relationship with her partner, medications, general health and wellbeing, vaginal dryness causing painful sex and body image. It is important to address lifestyle, nutrition and relationship factors that may be playing a role in low libido and not just rely on a herbal medication.
Damiana, Saw Palmetto and Sarsparilla, Korean Ginseng, Tribulus, Shatavari and Horny Goat Weed are some of the herbs that can be used for treating low libido. Ylang Ylang, Neroli and Patachouli are essential oils that are said to be aphrodisiac in nature.
Progesterone Cream and Wild Yam Creams
Progesterone creams were once available from health food stores but are now only available on prescription. There is no evidence that progesterone creams can be safely substituted for progestins as part of hormone therapy .
There is no evidence from the research conducted that progesterone creams provide adequate endometrial protection (protection of the lining of the uterus) for women who are post-menopausal and are using oestrogen replacement therapy. The amount of progesterone actually absorbed through the skin is totally inadequate to protect the endometrium.
A woman could be putting herself at risk if she substitutes progestogen tablets or patches prescribed for hormone therapy with a progesterone cream, while continuing oestrogen. It is worth discussing these issues with your health practitioner.
Wild Yam Creams
Wild Yam creams are available from health food stores and from direct distributors.
Wild Yam is not a progesterone, does not contain progesterone and cannot be converted to progesterone in the body. Wild Yam cream contains diosgenin that can be converted in a laboratory to progesterone and oestrogen in the contraceptive pill and hormone therapy but it is not converted to progesterone in the body.
Even though diosgenin may have oestrogen-like actions it has not been shown to be beneficial in terms of relieving hot flushes, vaginal dryness or other common symptoms of menopause.
Traditionally, Wild Yam has not been used as a cream but rather taken internally.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening Primrose Oil is widely self-prescribed and is prescribed by health professionals to treat hot flushes. In a small (56 women) six month trial using 2000mg twice a day it was shown to be no better than a placebo (dummy pill).
Relaxation and paced respiration
A small trial showed that relaxation (20 minutes per day) significantly reduced the intensity, but not the frequency, of hot flushes. Relaxation techniques also reduce tension anxiety and depression.
Another small trial of paced respiration (slow deep breathing) was shown to significantly reduce the number of hot flushes.
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