Herbal Supplements
Menopause, Menstrual Disorders and Herbal Remedies
Menopause (fromthe Greek roots “meno”- month, and “pausis” - a pause, a cessation) is female physiological condition associated with the change of life cycle. It starts with woman in her 30s experiencing the variation of menstrual cycle lengths and ends with the final menstrual period. Menopause is associated with the decrease of ovaries functioning, when the female glands gradually stop producing estrogen and progestin, causing the cessation of the reproductive function. Menopause is not a disorder and often does not require special attention. The most common menstrual cycle disorders are the symptoms that cause problems during the period. Those are abnormal uterine bleeding, amenorrhea (absence of menstrual bleeding), fibroids (noncancerous uterine tumors), dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods), premenstrual syndrome (PMS, a variety of physical and psychological symptoms) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (severe form of PMS).
The absence of menstruation for 12 month is defined as menopause. However, changes and symptoms signifying of it start earlier. Periods vary in length (shorter or longer), intensity (lighter or heavier) and there’s general variation of the cycle. Other common symptoms are hot flashes and/or night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, irritability, depression and trouble in focusing, skin thinning, breast atrophy, decreased libido and problems reaching orgasm. Typical physical and emotional symptoms associated with PMS and PMDD include swollen and painful breasts, bloating, constipation, headaches, fatigue, clumsiness, mood swings and tension, depression and inability to concentrate.
Menopause is the result of hormones level diminishing. These hormones are no longer able to regulate the monthly menstrual cycle, and so the periods stop. Abnormal uterine bleeding is usually caused by hormonal imbalances, structural abnormalities in the uterus and some medical conditions. The absence of menstruation can be caused by the different factors. If a woman hasn’t menstruated up till the age of 18, she may have endocrine system disorders, which interfere with regulations of hormones. Delayed maturing of the pituitary gland is the most common reason in such cases. Also, there’re cases when woman stops menstruating, for three months or longer, after having regular periods. This disorder may be caused by stress, weight loss, exercise or illness, and the decrease of the oestrogen levels is the result of the mentioned factors. Pain from menstrual cramps is the reaction of the body to the uterine contractions, caused by prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that circulate in the bloodstream. The causes of PMS are not investigated yet, but it is proved that it is not the result of the hormonal imbalance.
Traditional Approaches
Most women do not need treatment for menopause since it is not a disorder. However, severe symptoms require medical attention. Hormone replacement therapy, drugs that relieve from hot flashes, antidepressants and blood pressure medicines are usually prescribed to women to relieve the menopause flow. Amenorrhea is treated with progesterone supplements, oral contraceptives (ovulation inhibitors) and dietary modifications (to include increased caloric and fat intake). Women with dysmenorrhea symptoms are usually prescribed to take prostaglandin inhibitors to reduce pain, oral contraceptives – to inhibit ovulation, and dietary modifications - to increase protein and decrease sugar and caffeine intake. PMS is managed by the prior to the symptoms use of diuretic medications, prostaglandin inhibitors, oral contraceptives and vitamin supplements (vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium).
Alternative Approaches
Herbal medicine suggests a number of options to treat menopausal symptoms and menstrual disorders.
Hot flashes, the most common menopause symptom, are handled with the flaxseed. It contains omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, which act as phytoestrogens. Flaxseed is also used in herbal medicine for the premenstrual syndrome. Black cohosh (derived from species of buttercup) is effective against hot flashes and night sweats and can also lower the blood pressure. Acting to the hypothalamus and pituitarygland, vitex possesses hormone-stimulating effects and is effective against hot flashes, vaginal dryness and depression. Dong quai tonic and regulatory properties are beneficial in treating menopausal symptoms: it acts as pain-relieving, antispasmodic, and anti-inflammatory agent. Moreover, this herb soothes discomforts associated with menopause. Calendula is used to enhance woman reproductive system, to regulate menstrual cycle and to relieve breast tenderness and menstrual cramps.
2009-08-27 08:22:17
what do you suggest for low labido and vaginal dryness and memory and mental fuzziness.
2008-10-21 12:02:25
Ask for Horny Goat Weed at the Health Food stores. Its affects in solving menopausal symptoms is amazing! It's active ingredient, Icarian, (?) must be the secret. I've had better results than with any of the above mentioned herbs. Try it.
2008-09-17 05:59:29
The info covered was rather generic, I have been reading much lately about herbs such as yin yang huo (epimedium grandiforum) and Zhi mu (Anemarrhena asphodelades) and had been hoping to abtain more on them.
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