Menopause Symptoms

  • Hormones: A Delicate Balance

    TIM womanHormones can be the cause of a variety of health concerns—from teen acne to mood swings to, eventually, hot flashes. And they can get out of balance for a variety of reasons, says Rebecca Phillips, doctor of chiropracty at our Albuquerque store. Fortunately there are solutions for bringing them back to the right levels, and treating the associated symptoms in the meantime.

    If it seems though a person’s symptoms do lean toward hormonal imbalance, Rebecca will often recommend a saliva test, available without a prescription from our pharmacies. The tests reveal levels of estrogen, progesterone and the adrenal glands. Within 10 days, she says, they’ll have a much better idea of how to help address their issues, and the data can be used as a baseline for future tests.

    If estrogen is low, for example, Rebecca would recommend something like black cohosh, which mimics the presence of estrogen in the body to relieve symptoms like hot flashes. If the levels are totally out of balance, she might recommend pregnenolone, which converts to either DHEA or progesterone, depending on the body’s needs (we carry Pure Encapsulations’ Pregnenolone). Maca also which offers natural support for hormone balance.

    While awaiting test results, Rebecca says, she will often recommend supplements that can help ease symptoms on their own. “If they have sleep issues, for example, we can give them GABA,” she says. Or if they’re experiencing hot flashes at night, it may be a nutrition issue. “Sometimes people’s diets are just too high in sugar and that’s fueling the fire.” That’s when she might recommend a green powder, like those from Vibrant Greens, to help cool the body.

    Green foods are also an important way to support the liver and ensure proper filtering of estrogen, which is key, Rebecca says, for avoiding hormonal surges of acne in your teen years and beyond. “Most people that have adult acne need to get off sugars and onto lean proteins and greens.”

    The adrenal factor

    “Our hormones don’t come just from our ovaries,” Rebecca says. Throughout our lifetime, 25 percent come from our adrenal glands, which convert pregnenolone into DHEA, progesterone or cortisol depending on what the body needs. Because it works so hard, it’s often depleted during high-stress periods.

    But after menopause, when the ovaries have stopped producing hormones of their own, our bodies rely on the adrenals for all of our hormone balance. “If your 25 percent is up and functional, you might not experience the hot flashes.” But if you’re over-stressed, there’s a good chance you’re operating on less than 25 percent, and can experience exacerbated menopause symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to practice good stress management habits throughout our lives. A Pharmaca practitioner can also talk to you about adaptogenic herbs such as eleuthero and rhodiola—or even specific herbal formulas—that can be helpful in nourishing the adrenals.

    Ask a Pharmaca practitioner for guidance if you feel your hormones are out of balance.

  • Demistifying Hormone Replacement Therapy (Video)

    If you're considering hormone replacement therapy (or HRT), learn from expert Dr. Tori Hudson about why it can be an effective, safe way to manage menopause symptoms. Dr. Hudson confronts questions about increased breast cancer risk and the difference between synthetic and bioidentical hormones. She also talks about the benefits of different delivery methods and dosages available through a compounding pharmacy such as Pharmaca.

  • A Holistic Approach to Menopause Relief

    Menopause symptoms manifest in a variety of different ways. For some women, it’s just a matter of losing some sleep and experiencing a few hot flashes. But for others, it can mean dramatic mood changes and prolonged physical problems. Fortunately women now have access to a range of solutions, including individualized doses of compounded bioidentical hormones and effective over-the-counter herbs and supplements.

    Women’s health expert and member of Pharmaca's Integrative Health Advisory Board, Tori Hudson, ND, helps explain which options work when. “The main indication for use of hormones of any kind would be the relief of moderate to severe menopause symptoms, especially things like hot flashes,” says Dr. Hudson. The stronger the symptoms, the more likely doctors will be to prescribe actual hormones instead of simply recommending supplements.

    Bioidentical hormones, which match the chemical structure of humans’ own hormones, have recently become a preferred choice for doctors. To make them, manufacturers most often use extracts of soy or yam, which are then adjusted in a lab to make them bioidentical.

    What’s more, compounding these bioidentical hormones makes them able to be more specifically tailored to each patient. “We can make combinations that manufacturers don’t offer, and we can make more delivery systems,” Dr. Hudson adds. “We can also slowly bring someone up or down with all these different doses.”

    So when would you turn to botanicals or herbal formulas? “I would start with supplements in mild and moderate conditions,” Dr. Hudson says. In these cases, she works most often with the following three “foundational” products.

    Her first favorite is Vitanica’s Women’s Phase II - Menopause Support, a five-herb formulation with a clinical record showing significant improvement of symptoms like hot flashes, mood changes and insomnia.

    She sometimes recommends Natural Health International's Femmenessence, made from an organic strain of the Peruvian maca root. While Dr. Hudson likes this option if women are experiencing fatigue and concentration problems, clinical evidence has also shown it to be beneficial for bone and heart health.

    Finally, Dr. Hudson recommends Pharmaca’s Black Cohosh when a woman is feeling sadness and depression alongside hot flashes and body aches. Used for centuries to relieve menopause symptoms, black cohosh has become the go-to supplement for many women.

    In addition to these formulas, Dr. Hudson may recommend supplementing with a symptom-specific formula to provide extra relief. A sleep formula, for example, can aid those dealing with insomnia, while St. John’s wort can help relieve depression.

    Ultimately, Dr. Hudson says, “The best results are when we know the most about the person—not just their menopause symptoms—but other things about their health, so that we can really individualize what they’re doing.” Pharmaca’s pharmacists and practitioners are on hand every day to help you do just that.

  • The Difference Between Synthetic and Bioidentical Hormones

    By guest author, Mark Stengler, Naturopathic Doctor

    Known as “The Natural Physician” to his patients, readers and audiences across North America, Mark Stengler is a licensed naturopathic physician, author and lecturer with expertise in nutrition, herbal therapy, vitamin therapy, homeopathy, natural hormone replacement and integrated medicine.

    The term “bioidentical hormones” refers to hormones that are exactly the same in structure and function as those produced by the human body. Substances derived from plant or animal tissues are modified (on a molecular level) in a laboratory until they precisely match the natural human hormones.

    Synthetic hormones, in contrast, are not identical in structure and function to those produced by the human endocrine system. For example, birth control pills are composed of chemically synthesized hormones, usually estrogen and progestin (a type of synthetic progesterone), that are molecularly different from natural human hormones. Actually, the concept of a “natural” source can be confusing. The synthetic estrogen-replacement drug Premarin is derived from a natural source, the urine of a pregnant horse, but the drug contains estrogens found naturally only in horses and not in humans.

    Synthetic estrogen-replacement drugs increase the risk of several potentially fatal diseases, especially when combined with progestin. In 2002, a large-scale study called the Women’s Health Initiative revealed that postmenopausal women who used synthetic estrogen and progestin had a significantly increased risk of breast cancer, coronary artery disease, stroke and blood clots. In response to this alarming news, many doctors immediately recommended that patients stop synthetic HRT. Interestingly, statistics for the year that followed showed a drop of 7 percent in breast cancer overall and a decline of 12 percent in estrogen receptor–positive breast cancers (which are more likely to occur when estrogen levels are high) among women ages 50 to 69.

    No comprehensive studies have yet explored whether bioidentical hormones are safer than synthetic ones. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that serious side effects from bioidentical HRT are uncommon. Hormones work by attaching to cell receptors (molecules on a cell’s surface that allow other substances to affect cell activity). Because these cell receptors are designed to interact with the body’s natural hormones, bioidentical hormones provide the best fit. Synthetic hormones do not fit as well and therefore may be more likely to cause problems at a cellular level. Evidence: Premarin has been shown in test tube studies to damage cell DNA, according to a study published in 2001 in Chemical Research Toxicology.

    Unfortunately, many medical doctors are uninformed about bioidentical HRT, perhaps because bioidentical hormones are not marketed or promoted by the pharmaceutical industry. (To be patented, a pharmaceutical product must not duplicate any substance found in nature, so bioidentical hormones do not yield the large profits that many drugs do.)

    To learn more about bioidentical hormone replacement, speak with a Pharmaca pharmacist today.

  • Expert Advice: Hot Flashes in Perimenopause and Menopause

    Dr. Tori Hudson, ND, is a member of Pharmaca's Integrative Health Advisory Board and Medical Director of A Woman's Time Clinic in Portland, Ore.  

    The number of women who are affected by hot flashes in the United States is remarkable. About 75 percent of women experience them at some point, and 15 percent are severely affected by them. Hot flashes and nightsweats in perimenopausal and menopausal women are often referred to clinically as vasomotor symptoms.

    Hot flashes are the most common symptom associated with the menopausal period and the second most common symptom, next to irregular menses, during the perimenopausal period. We still do not understand the physiology of hot flashes, nor can we project the average age of onset, triggers, duration, frequency, or why they are prominent in some cultures and absent in others.

    Hot flashes are sudden, transient episodes that range from simply feeling warm or overheated to intense heat and perspiration. Women tend to describe a wave-like sensation over the body, particularly in the upper torso, face and head. If the hot flashes occur at night, alongside potentially drenching perspiration, we call them night sweats.

    The occurrence of hot flashes is highest in the first two years of postmenopause, although information is scarce on the total time over which hot flashes are experienced. Hot flash frequency is variable, and ranges anywhere from several episodes in a year to every hour throughout each day. Women with surgically induced menopause often report particularly persistent, more intense and more frequent hot flashes. One large study determined that for most women, hot flashes last about two years, although some women experience them for 5-10 years. As many as 15 percent of women may still report hot flashes 16 years after menopause.

    The clearest explanation for hot flashes is that they appear to be the body's response to a sudden but transient downward resetting of the body's thermostat, which is located in the hypothalamus. This temporary alteration of the set point would cause the sensation of intense heat and flushing. What we don't know is what initially triggers this event.

    A logical correlation between low estrogen levels and hot flashes exists. Estrogen levels have been found to be lower in premenopausal women with hot flashes than in those without hot flashes. But there are some contradictions in the low estrogen theory. For example, prior to puberty, girls have low estrogen levels, but not hot flashes. Hot flashes are also reported during pregnancy, when the estrogen level is high. As a result, some researchers believe that hot flashes are due to an imbalance in beta-endorphins and other opiates in the brain that in turn may influence the temperature regulation center. Estrogen and progesterone may alter the activity of these naturally occurring opiates, and it is possible that lower levels of estrogen and progesterone cause a withdrawal of opioids, triggering a hot flash.

    Interestingly, not all cultures report the same incidence of hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms. For example, Japanese and Indonesian women report far fewer hot flashes than do women from Western societies. Mayan women in the Yucatan do not report any symptoms at menopause other than menstrual cycle irregularity. Many researchers have attributed these differences to biological, psychological, social and cultural factors.

    Keep in mind that there are other causes of hot flashes, including thyroid disease, epilepsy, infection, insulin-producing tumors, pheochromocytoma, carcinoid syndromes, leukemia, pancreatic tumors, autoimmune disorders or allergic disorders.

    Natural therapies are very well suited for hot flashes and/or nightsweats, and simple changes and awareness can often make a difference. For example, hot flashes can be aggravated by warm drinks, hot weather, stress, salt, alcohol and spicy foods. Women who have more body fat may have fewer hot flashes than lean women. Increasing the soy foods in the diet may decrease hot flashes. In addition, increasing intake of essential fatty acids--through nuts and seeds especially--can aid in other menopause-related concerns such as reducing calcium loss and improvinge calcium absorption while also being protective against heart disease.

    There are also many medicinal plants and dietary supplements that have shown benefits in improving hot flashes and/or nightsweats.

    Black cohosh is the most well studied herb for hot flashes, and has been included in more than 100 studies. Although not all studies show benefit, it often shows at least a 50 percent reduction in hot flashes. Black cohosh is also considered safe in breast cancer patients because it does not increase estrogen levels and has actually been able to inhibit breast cancer cells in the test tube.

    A combination of black cohosh and St. John's wort has been able to improve not only hot flashes but menopausal mood changes as well.

    A special maca root extract has several studies showing significant benefit in reducing hot flashes.

    Kava is a good choice when the hot flashes are occurring alongside anxiety symptoms.

    There are also over-the-counter natural progesterone creams that have shown excellent benefits in reducing hot flashes.

    Other research has been done on the benefits of red clover, pine bark (pycnogenol), fish oils,  siberian rhubarb, kudzu and at least one combination herbal product (dong quai +licorice + wild yam + burdock + motherwort).

    In addition to these natural therapies, numerous prescription hormone replacement therapy medications are available. They come in all sizes, combinations and delivery methods.

    One of the specialty areas of a compounding pharmacy like Pharmaca is in preparing customized doses, combinations and delivery methods according to the patient's needs. Whether the hormones are synthetic, semi-synthetic or bioidentical (when the hormone is chemically identical to the hormones the body makes), they come with both potential risks but many benefits. To best understand the benefits and risks for you, educate yourself and talk with a practitioner or pharmacist with expertise in menopause.

    When searching for symptom relief, there are excellent dietary supplements to utilize for hot flashes in the perimenopause transition and in menopause. Usually, you should feel improvement within one month. If not, consider moving on to another option until you find something that works well for you.

  • Video: Herbs and Supplements for Menopause

    Menopause brings with it a variety of symptoms, from sleep issues to hot flashes to vaginal thinning. Here, Dr. Tori Hudson, ND, talks about well researched herbs and supplements that can help quell a number of these symptoms.

    This video is part of a series of educational videos from members of our Integrative Health Advisory Board.

  • Ask the ND: Managing Menopause

    We asked Dr. Tori Hudson, ND, to answer some of the most common questions about menopause symptoms and treatment. Dr. Hudson is a member of Pharmaca's Integrative Health Advisory Board and Medical Director of A Woman's Time Clinic in Portland, Ore.

    What herbs and supplements should I consider to control my menopause symptoms?

    It always depends on your symptoms, but here's how I approach it. First I have to determine that someone's symptoms are related to perimenopause or menopause. If she's 40-something and has a familiar collection of symptoms (e.g. hot flashes, anxiety, irritability) and her periods are starting to change in some fashion, it's probably related to menopause.

    If so, there are some core products I like to use as a foundation: black cohosh extract, Femmenessence MacaPause or Vitanica's Women's Phase II. These three products have been well researched for a diverse array of menopause symptoms.

    If needed, I would give additional supplements based on other symptoms that need addressing. Really can't sleep? Add valerian or a sleep formula right before bed. If depression is a more dominant symptom, add St. Johns wort (which has been researched to work especially well with black cohosh).

    You also have to make sure you're addressing the correct symptom. If your hot flashes are causing insomnia, you have to quell the hot flashes before you can address any remaining sleep issues.

    Are there lifestyle changes or other modifications I can make to help alleviate symptoms?

    There are definitely some lifestyle changes that have research behind them. Research has shown that relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can ease sleep problems and hot flashes. On the other hand, hot and spicy foods have been shown to trigger hot flashes, as have alcohol, caffeinated beverages and smoking.

    At what point should I consider hormone replacement therapy?

    The primary indication for HRT is hot flashes and/or night sweats and/or vaginal dryness--these are the primary approved symptoms for estrogen administration. But doctors use hormones in this population to help all kinds of symptoms, not just what the FDA has approved it for.

    In addition, there's some compelling new evidence that says that estrogen can help prevent Alzheimer's. Even though it's not approved for that yet, if a patient has a family history of Alzheimer's, I would be more prone to prescribe estrogen for her.

    Things are complex with each individual patient, so we look at the whole picture before we decide on a course of treatment.

    If I choose to use hormone therapy, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the various routes of administration?

    If a patient has local genital symptoms that we think are estrogen related (dryness, itching, pain), then the best solution is a topical estrogen that's applied in or outside of the vagina. We always try to address a symptom as locally as possible before pumping a medication through the rest of the body.

    In terms of oral pills, the main advantage is they're easier, generally cheaper, and if we're doing compounding, we can blend all different hormones and doses into one pill. And in general, we get more predictable results from pills.

    On the other hand, transdermal patches, creams or gels have the advantage that they avoid passing through the liver, the route that oral hormones go. Experts believe this interaction with the liver can increase tryglicerides, blood clotting, liver enzymes and c-reactive proteins (a marker for inflammation). These increases don't necessarily happen, but they can. So if someone already has elevated liver enzymes--from obesity or high alcohol consumption--I would opt for a transdermal delivery so we don't add to the burden of the liver.

    The drawback to transdermal hormones is that people can be allergic to the adhesives, they can be more expensive, and most of the patches are estrogen only, so you would have to supplement with an oral progesterone.

    What is bio-identical hormone therapy? Is it safer than the standard hormone therapy?

    These hormones are made in a manufacturing facility--an ingredient is extracted out of a plant, either soy or Mexican wild yam, then converted into a hormone that is biochemically identical to human hormones. (The word "plant" can be confusing to some, but the finished product is not a plant hormone, it's a human hormone.)

    Is it safer? Bioidentical estrogen has not been proven to be safer, but progesterone does have some potential safety advantages. Fewer women have side effects with it, and it seems to have a friendlier effect on the coronary arteries since bioidentical progesterone doesn't lower good cholesterol (though synthetic progestin does). Additionally, there are two French studies that have shown that when you give any kind of estrogen along with a synthetic progestin, you get a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. But when you give any estrogen with bioidentical progesterone, the risk is not there.

    Some bioidentical hormones are available through commercial drug companies (such as Estradiol, Estrace and Prometrium), and are often less expensive than compounded versions. But the advantage to compounded hormone replacement therapy is that we can offer specialized doses, create infinite combinations of different hormones and customize the delivery system. You can't get a cream or pill with both bioidentical estrogen and progesterone from a drug company. Compounding also allows us to address sensitive patients who are allergic to a certain filler in the brand name drug, or to the patch adhesive.

    I recommend compounded hormones most often, but when people's budgets are involved, sometimes the commercially available bioidenticals are the best bet.

    Are there side effects of hormone therapy? How does my individual health/family history affect my decision to take hormone therapy?

    If a patient starts hormone therapy within the first 10 years of menopause, we don't think it will increase your risk of heart disease or Alzheimer's. But waiting longer than that may increase that risk.

    Here are some other side effects we know about:
    If you take a combination of estrogen and progesterone for longer than four years it can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer, though studies show combining any estrogen and bioidentical progesterone won't.
    If you take estrogen only (which is the approach if you do not have a uterus), then your risk for breast cancer slightly increases after seven years.

    In the first year of taking oral estrogen, there is a slight risk of blood clot or stroke. If a patient has a history of blood clots, I won't prescribe oral estrogen--I'll try a lot of other options before I try even transdermal estrogen.

    When talking with your doctor about the benefits and risks of HRT, make sure you discuss any family history of breast cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and osteoporosis.

    Are there other prescription options if I can't do HRT?

    There is scientific evidence to show that selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be helpful. Medications like Prozac and Paxil are being used especially with women who can't take estrogen for another medical reason.

    They don't work as well as estrogen, but can work for hot flashes. We usually only go that route if we've worked through all the herbal options and dismissed hormone replacement therapy as an option.

    How do I know my symptoms are related to menopause and not another health issue?

    Given that there's a long list of possible symptoms, it's true that many of them could be caused by something other than menopause. Hot flashes can be caused by hyperthyroidism, for example, and even certain cancers can have heat associated with them.

    Irregular bleeding would be the most worrisome thing that could be caused by something else, like polyps, cancer or endometriosis. So it's prudent to do due diligence with your practitioner to see if your collection of symptoms is indicative of menopause or something else (or both).

  • Magnesium Supplement: Hot Flash Relief

    Good news from researchers about reducing the symptoms of menopause, even if you're a breast cancer survivor: Magnesium can reduce hot flashes caused by breast cancer drugs. A recent study published in Natural Standard shows that breast cancer patients taking magnesium supplements experienced fewer hot flashes per week than women not taking the supplement. Hot flash relief is here, ladies!

    Women who survive breast cancer often experience hot flashes from the anti-estrogen treatment, tamoxifen (brand name Nolvadex). Aromatase inhibitors also cause severe hot flashes in breast cancer patients. In the study, 20 breast cancer patients experiencing at least 14 hot flashes per day were given magnesium oxide at 400 mg per day for 4 weeks, increasing to 800 mg a day if necessary (which it was in 17 of the 20 patients). The key findings of the study were that magnesium supplementation significantly reduced the frequency of hot flashes (a 41.4 percent reduction), and more than half of the patients studied had a reduction of more than 50 percent. There were also significant reductions in fatigue, sweating and distress.

    Magnesium can be powerful for a lot of other health issues, too. Additional health benefits of magnesium include a reduction in cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, migraines, asthma and so much more (Find out more here!).

    Shop Pharmaca’s complete line of magnesium—our customers love Pure Essence Ionic Fizz Magnesium and Floradix’s Liquid Magnesium. Talk to a Pharmaca practitioner about the right magnesium for you!

  • Menopause Solutions: Webcast Wrap-Up

    Dr. Low Dog is an internationally recognized expert in the field of herbal medicine and integrative approaches to women's health. She is currently the Fellowship Director at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine and Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center. Find out more at

    On April 6, 2011, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, MD, gave a live webinar exploring ways to handle the changes that come with menopause. Nearly 200 people stopped by to hear Dr. Low Dog talk about easing symptoms through herbal solutions, lifestyle changes and hormone replacement therapy.

    First off, Dr. Low Dog said, “I want us to set aside the notion that menopause is any kind of disease or disorder that has to be managed.” She adds that we’ve all survived the hormonal upheaval of puberty, and that 30 percent of women won’t even have symptoms as they go through menopause.

    But for many who do experience symptoms, those symptoms can be exacerbated by stress. That’s why it’s important to examine our work and home environments and to introduce more calm into our lives. “This is a time to reconnect with who you are, and to be gentle and tender with your body,” says Dr. Low Dog.

    Lifestyle practices
    To start, Dr. Low Dog recommends paced breathing. “Don’t ever underestimate breath work,” she says. Clinical trials have shown that women who practiced breathing exercises—inhaling for 5 seconds and exhaling for 5 seconds over a 15-minute period, twice a day—saw reduced severity and frequency of symptoms like hot flashes. Dr. Low Dog adds that breathing exercises can also calm blood pressure, and warm the body through enhanced circulation.

    For even greater impact, expand the breathing practice into mindfulness-based stress reduction, which studies have shown to significantly reduce hot flashes, sleeplessness and stress even months after the practice has ended. “This is a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with your body and really start to get this stress under control,” says Dr. Low Dog. She points to many books, CDs and DVDs that can help guide your practice, including many that are available at Pharmaca.

    Hypnosis is another route that many women see relief from. A study showed that women who were assigned to 5 weekly hypnosis sessions saw a 68 percent reduction in hot flashes, anxiety and sleeplessness. “If you don’t want to take hormones or other interventions, why not give this a try?” says Dr. Low Dog. “There’s good evidence for it.” She adds that even self-hypnotherapy CDs can be helpful.

    Similar results were found in studies of women and acupuncture. Women receiving 12 once-weekly acupuncture treatments were compared against women taking venlafexine, a common anti-depressant that is used to ease anxiety and hot flashes. During the treatment both groups saw improvement, but two weeks later, women in the venlafexine group saw a return of their symptoms. At the end of the year-long study, the women in the acupuncture group still reported an increased sense of well-being, including increased sex drive and energy.

    Herbs and supplements
    Dr. Low Dog cites a number of herbal remedies that can be extremely helpful in easing the broad symptoms of menopause. Black cohosh, for example, is one of the most popular herbs for hot flashes and works well when it’s paired with St. John’s Wort, which acts as an anti-depressant. “We’re seeing a growing number of studies [on St. John’s Wort], either alone, or in combination with black cohosh, for relief of hot flashes and night sweats.”

    She adds that 60-65 percent of women using St. John’s Wort are seeing relief from symptoms of depression and anxiety, about the same rate as prescription anti-depressants. (Though there are drug interactions to be aware of, such as birth control, drugs used to treat cancer and HIV, or anticoagulants. Speak with your pharmacist about the prescriptions you’re taking before starting St. John’s Wort.)

    Other herbs that Dr. Low Dog likes:

    • Siberian rhubarb, which has been clinically shown to reduce anxiety, hot flashes and night sweats.
    • Sage, which aids in excessive perspiration and night sweats.
    • Maca, which is thought to improve libido and sexual arousal.
    • Whole soy, such as miso, tempeh or soy sauce. (Even if you’ve had breast cancer, Dr. Low Dog says, soy is no longer taboo.)
    • Bacopa, an Ayurvedic herb that’s good for boosting brain function and memory.
    • Rhodiola and ashwagandha, adaptogenic herbs that help your body deal with stress. Rhodiola is especially good for clearing mental fog and fatigue, and 11 controlled trials have shown it to help chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety. (“I love this plant,” says Dr. Low Dog. “For many women going through menopause, rhodiola can be a lifesaver.”) Ashwagandha is more of a relaxing herb, and can ease night sweats, aches and pains to help you sleep (find her ashwahandha tea recipe here).

    Hormone Replacement Therapy

    “There are obviously a lot of alternative therapies,” says Dr. Low Dog, “But HRT will be most effective for reducing your symptoms.” Available hormones include synthetic, natural and bioidentical versions.

    Bioidentical hormones are identical to what your body makes, and are now available orally, as transdermal patches, or in a vaginal application. To make bioidentical hormones, scientists start with a plant source that’s naturally rich in hormones that are already very similar to human hormones—like soybeans and yams—and adjust them to exactly match our own. While many bioidenticals are only available through compounding pharmacies like Pharmaca, there are a few commercially available (see chart).  “Natural, bioidentical, transdermal estrogen is probably my top pick,” says Dr. Low Dog.

    Discuss your HRT options with your doctor or pharmacist. If your current doctor isn’t familiar with bioidentical or compounded options, Dr. Low Dog recommends looking for a local practitioner here.

  • Webcast: Menopause Solutions

    Join Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an internationally recognized expert in the field of integrative approaches to women's health, as she discusses common sense strategies for managing the symptoms of menopause. From herbal remedies to bioidentical hormone therapy, Dr. Low Dog offers helpful advice for women in every stage of menopause.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011
    Click icon on bottom right to view full screen
    Download a PDF of the presentation >

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