Over the past several years the news has been filled with reports about the potential risk of hormone replacement therapy for women confronting menopause. Concern has most recently been raised following the release of information from the influential Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study demonstrating the increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and strokes associated with the use of the most commonly prescribed hormone, Prempro. An alternative that has been growing in popularity is Naturopathy.
Naturopathic medicine offers alternatives for women who have been using hormone replacement therapy and are looking for other options to prevent hot flashes, insomnia, mood changes, irregular periods and vaginal dryness as well as many other changes related to early-menopause and menopause. Natural therapies may be the perfect solution because they offer reduction in menopause symptoms without the increased risk of disease.
Black Cohosh is an example of an herbal therapy for the symptoms of menopause . Studies have shown that women who take Black Cohosh have fewer hot flashes, night sweats, headaches and mood swings. They also report a general reduction in insomnia, fatigue, irritability and vaginal dryness. These benefits have been attributed to phytoestrogens substance believed to be present in black cohosh. Phytoestrogens are chemical compounds in all plants. The most well known phytoestrogen is isoflavone, which is found in all soy products.
There are many non-hormonal options* available for women with dealing with the symptoms of menopause. Combinations of herbs such as dong quai, motherwort, licorice root, burdock root and wild yam root can reduce hot flashes for some women. (Are you unfamiliar with these herbs? Don’t worry, just ask your Naturopath to steer you in the right direction!). Many women find relief from hot flashes by taking vitamin E or vitamin C. Examples of other options include the use of melatonin for insomnia, B vitamins for depressed moods, and glucosamine sulfate for joint pain. Women who have discontinued the use of hormone replacement therapy due to negative results or on the recommendation of their physicians should consider seeking the care of a Naturopathic Physician. A Naturopathic Physician can help women sort through all the natural alternatives and determine the most appropriate choices and effective doses based on their individual concerns.
Naturopathic Physicians are experts in the use of natural therapies. With four years of postgraduate education in the biological sciences, conventional medical diagnosis and the use of Complementary and Alternative Medical (CAM) therapies, Naturopathic Physicians are able to provide current information on safe and effective therapies for menopause.
When you see a Naturopathic Physician you will be impressed with the attentive care you receive. During the first one-hour visit, individual menopause related symptoms are discussed and rated based on severity. Appropriate natural therapies based on scientific evidence are then recommended. Potential therapies include daily nutrition, exercise, vitamins and minerals, herbal extracts and/or formulas and homeopathic remedies. In addition, individual risks for breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis are determined and preventive options discussed. The goal is to provide complete care, taking individual concerns into account, and to provide information to promote informed choices while using the least invasive therapies.
Women who are seeking alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy will find that Naturopathic Physicians offer many options for the relief of menopausal symptoms as well as the prevention of heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer. To find a Naturopathic Physician in your area visit the website for the New York Association of Naturopathic Physicians at www.nyanp.org or the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians at www.naturopathic.org.
Another great resource is the website: www.menopauseexpert.co.uk/home.htm.
*Please keep in mind that any and all supplements—nutrients, herbs, enzymes, or other—should be used with caution. My recommendation is that you seek the care of a naturopathic doctor (with a doctorate degree from a federally-accredited program) and that you have a primary care physician or practitioner whom you can contact to help you with individual dosing and protocols. If you ever experience negative symptoms after taking a product, stop taking it immediately and contact your doctor right away.