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Monday, January 17, 2011

Menopause Basics Part Three

The following is a list of herbs that help with the various symptoms of menopause. I have had great success with Black Cohosh and Vitex.

Black Cohosh
North American Indians and eclectic physicians of the nineteenth century alike used black cohosh in decoctions to treat gynecological problems. Today's herbalists and homeopaths also value it for this purpose; herbalists also prescribe it as a hormone regulator and as a diuretic to relieve water retention.
Studies carried out in Europe have verified black cohosh's effectiveness in reducing the secretion of LH, which has been implicated in causing hot flashes. Experiments with rats in the 1980s showed that a methanol extract of black cohosh contains substances that bind to estrogen receptors, causing a selective reduction in luteinizing hormone (LH), which has been implicated in causing hot flashes. Experiments with rats in the 1980s showed that a methoanol extract of black cohosh causing a selective reduction of LH. In 1991, researchers at the University of G"ttingen in Germany performed a study of a commercial ethanol extract of black cohosh called Remifemin. The study involved 110 menopausal women between the ages of 50 and 54 who had received no estrogen replacement therapy for at least six months and complained of menopausal symptoms. The researchers found that the product reduced LH, and they isolated three active, as yet unidentified compounds in black cohosh that work together to suppress the hormone.
Hippocrates recommended vitex in the fourth century b.c. to treat injuries, inflammations, and swelling of the spleen. Its common name, chaste tree, is derived from the belief that it would suppress libido; European Catholics placed blossoms of the plant at the clothing of novice monks. Like black cohosh, contemporary herbalists value vitex for its hormone-regulating action and often prescribe it to treat not only hot flashes, but depression and vaginal dryness as well.
Vitex is believed to act on the hypothalamus and pituitary, regulating progesterone levels. Most of the clinical studies of vitex have been done in Europe and were noncontrolled. Two surveys of gynecological practices in Germany investigated the effect of vitex on 1,542 women aged thirteen to sixty-two with gynecological complaints. The women took forty drops of a commercial vitex product for an average length of 166 days. Physicians and patients agreed that the vitex product relieved fluid retention, bloating, breast tenderness, headache, and fatigue. Two percent of the patients reported side effects that included nausea, other gastric complaints, and diarrhea. Symptoms improved after an average of 25.3 days of taking the vitex drops. Additional anecdotal clinical reports indicate that vitex may help manage hot flashes, although further investigation is needed.
In Europe, vitex has been used for about forty years in a commercial alcohol-based tincture of the fruits known as Agnolyt; 100 mg of the solution is standardized to contain 9 g of the fruit. Recommended dosage is forty drops with liquid in the morning for several months to offset fluid retention and other discomforts. A solid extract equivalent of the tincture has been developed for those who are sensitive to alcohol.
Side effects from using vitex are rare, and there are no known interactions with other drugs. Commission E has supported the use of chaste-tree berries to treat menstrual disorders and mastodynia (painful breasts).
Dong quai
Known as a blood-purifying tonic in traditional Chinese medicine, dong quai is one of the best-selling Chinese herbal products in North America. Western herbalists view dong quai as having tonic and regulatory effects on the female reproductive system, and it is often used to treat menopausal symptoms. Scientific investigations have confirmed dong quai's pain-relieving, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory activity. It is generally believed to lower blood pressure and to soothe discomforts associated with menopause.
Herbalists view dong quai as the ``female ginseng'', referring to its ability to revitalize and renourish the female body by correcting hormonal imbalances; they call upon this Chinese relative of the herb angelica to regulate and normalize hormonal production.
In traditional Chinese medicine, dong quai is often used in conjunction with other herbs. In a clinical study in China, Si Wu Tang, a well-known formula that contains dong quai, was used in conjunction with herbs that tonify the spleen to treat forty-three menopausal women. Seventy percent of the women reported that the combination relieved hot flashes, dizziness, blurred vision, stomachaches, and constipation.
Dong quai root is small and ivory in color; it can be purchased sliced and pressed, or in powder, tincture, or extract forms.
Wild Yam: 
The most common wild yam benefits include those that are related to female complications. The antispasmodic property helps with menstrual cramps. It is also used for nausea during pregnancy. In general, it is a good tonic for the female system because it can help balance out the hormones. You can take it in the form of a cream or you can take wild yam capsules. Benefits also include its use during menopause .
Another of the wild yam benefits is that it is commonly used during menopause. Progesterone cream with wild yam is an important addition to a menopause relieving regimen. The most common way people take Mexican wild yam to help with menopause symptoms is in the form of a cream.

Herbs take a little while to work but I have found that it is worth the wait. I found that Vitex and Black Cohosh started taking effect in about 2 weeks.

Kellee Ganci

(Note: Wild Yam Root pictured above.)

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