Posted 4 years ago
Menopause Relief Without Hormones
Menopause is a normal transition in a woman’s menstrual life that can be associated with a whole list of troublesome symptoms. From hot flashes and night sweats to insomnia, anxiety and irritability, menopausal women can struggle with managing this time in their lives. Many women look to hormone replacement therapy to control these symptoms but , for a host of reasons , hormone therapy is not an option for some women. Fortunately, there are many non-hormonal approaches that include lifestyle management, acupuncture and dietary supplements that can help ease some of these symptoms.
Lifestyle issues can play a role in the severity of a woman’s hot flashes. The more stress a woman is under, the more likely she will experience severe hot flashes. Therefore, having a relaxation practice can be a beneficial intervention in minimizing menopausal symptoms. Therapies like breathing exercises, meditation and yoga are wonderful ways to lower stress.
Nutrition is an integral part of any wellness plan. A whole foods diet is recommended for all women. Minimizing processed foods, fried foods, saturated fat and excessive sugar not only improve your overall sense of well-being but can also reduce some of the symptoms of menopause. Alcohol and caffeine can trigger hot flashes, so it is best to minimize these substances in the diet. Many patients, especially those with breast cancer have concerns about eating soy foods, but the latest research has shown that not only can eating soy foods help minimize hot flashes but they can also provide a protective effect on breast tissues and can lower the risk of developing breast cancer and decrease the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
I recommend eating about 1-2 servings a day of whole soy products like tofu, edamame and soymilk. I would advise against eating foods with a processed form of soy called soy isolate. Freshly ground flaxseeds (not flaxseed oil) can also be beneficial for menopausal symptoms and breast health. I recommend including 1-2 TBS daily.
Acupuncture has been shown in studies to help women manage their menopausal symptoms. The benefits of acupuncture can be seen for months after stopping acupuncture treatments.
Dietary Supplements can also be helpful in helping women transition through menopause.
Black Cohosh is one of the most commonly used herbs for menopausal symptoms. Many women find it beneficial in reducing hot flashes and improving mood. It is safe to take in women with a history of breast cancer. The dose is 40-80mg daily of a standardized extract. It many take 8 weeks to see full benefit.
Swedish Pollen Extract is a formula made from the pollen and pistils of grasses. It has shown benefit in reducing menopausal symptoms and improving quality of life. Common brand names for this product are Relizen and Femal. Dose is 2 tablets a day. This product may take 8 weeks to see full benefit.
Hesperiden Methyl Chalcone contains vitamin C as well as a compound found in citrus fruit that has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It has demonstrated benefit in reducing hot flashes and improving sleep in menopausal women. Dose is 500mg three times a day.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Dose is 400-800 IU daily.
Pharmaceutical Drugs which draw mostly from the antidepressant category have been found to be helpful managing some of the symptoms of menopause. Studies have shown that antidepressant drugs from the SSRI’s and SNRI’s families are beneficial in reducing hotflashes . Paxil and Effexor are two drugs from these categories that are commonly used.
Women who are struggling with menopausal symptoms and cannot take hormonal therapies still have many options available to help them through this transition.
Start with lifestyle approaches and if needed look some of the above complimentary therapies or medications to help manage your symptoms.
About Heidi Rula, M.D.
Dr. Heidi Rula joined Ironwood in 2018 to launch the Integrative Oncology program. She is board certified in family medicine and fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine. Dr. Rula has been a practicing physician in the Phoenix area for approximately 20 years and has been recognized by her colleagues as one of Phoenix’s “Top Doctors” on multiple occasions.
Dr. Rula has played a key role in bringing integrative medicine to the Valley. She served as the medical director of the University of Arizona Integrative Health Center where she leads a team of physicians and complementary practitioners in a unique model of integrative primary care that she helped to develop along with Dr. Weil and the UA Center for Integrative Medicine.
About Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers
Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers (ICRC) is the largest multi-specialty oncology network in the Greater Metro Phoenix area. They have over 100 medical providers, a robust Integrative Services program, and a dedicated clinical research department. Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers has 15 valley locations and five comprehensive cancer care centers that offer a multi-disciplinary approach for expedited personalized patient care. For more information, please visit www.ironwoodcrc.com.