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For a massive 75 per cent of women, the menopause is associated with a number of unpleasant symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats, not to mention low mood, headaches, tiredness and loss of libido. Fortunately there are a number of herbal remedies that can help.
Agnus castus is one of the most important herbal remedies you can take at the menopause because it works as an adaptogen, generally balancing all hormone production.
When you go through the menopause the ovaries produce less of the hormone oestrogen and this drop in oestrogen causes surges in the levels of chemicals that dilate blood vessels, causing blood to rush to the skin’s surface, resulting in a sudden rise in temperature and the uncomfortable ‘hot flush’.
Agnus castus helps to normalise the function of the pituitary gland which controls and balances the hormones in our body. Agnus castus capsules three times daily can really help. Sage can also be useful for hot flushes; it’s one of our oldest medicinal plants and it too would appear to have a regulating effect on hormones. Try fresh organic sage tincture diluted in a little water or sage capsules.
Isoflavones can also help. Oestrogen-like plant hormones or ‘phytoestrogens’, isoflavones help to reduce hot flushes by providing an additional hormone boost when oestrogen levels are low.
Popular food sources include soya and soy foods such as natto, tempeh and miso. In Japan, where soya is a dietary staple, less than 25 per cent menopausal women are reported to suffer with hot flushes.
Shatavari, a species of asparagus native to India and the Himalayas, and Red Clover are also naturally high in isoflavones. Fennel, delicious raw or cooked, can help to reduce some of the symptom patterns associated with declining oestrogen levels.
Finally, essential fats (EFAs) can also help with many menopause symptoms, including thinning hair, nails and skin. The main contenders are omega 3, found in Flax Seed Oil, omega 6, found in Hemp Seed Oil and omega 9, which is naturally present in Pumpkin Seed Oil. What’s important, however, is that you get the balance of these essential fats right. If you need a helping hand, Viridian Nutrition’s Omega 3:6:9 Oil contains all three at the right ratio.
James Geraghty is the managing director of the Molloy’s Lifestyle Pharmacy Group. He has a degree in biochemistry and pharmacy, as well as 15 years’ experience of the health industry.