4 Herbs To Help With Menopause

4 Herbs To Help With Menopause

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

Managing the symptoms of menopause can be a very challenging time for women. During menopause the common symptoms experienced by women include hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, reduced sexual drive, decreased bone density, weight gain as well as changes to mood. Experiencing these symptoms can be very disruptive to daily life and as a result, women across cultures have long searched for remedies for these intrusive symptoms. This article will focus on plant-based teas and supplements, and what the current research says about their potential to help manage menopause-related symptoms. 

Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil (EPO) is a common supplement used by menopausal women to address their symptoms. EPO is extracted from the seeds of the evening primrose plant and has been shown to have many health benefits. The reason health professionals believe it is beneficial for women’s health, including the management of menopause symptoms, has to do with its high concentration of healthy fatty acids. To learn more about how healthy fats help regulate menopause symptoms, take a look at our article about Nutrition Strategies To Help Manage Your Menopause Symptoms.   

Specifically, EPO has become popular for its treatment of hot flashes. In a 2013 study, 56 menopausal women were provided with two daily EPO supplements for six weeks. The study showed that there was improvement in hot flash severity, and a smaller improvement in frequency, and duration of hot flashes (1). It is hypothesized that EPO produces these effects by lowering blood pressure, however more research is needed to test this hypothesis. The research on EPO however is mixed, as a 2010 literature review concluded that other the counter medication include EPO does not have consistent evidence to support its effectiveness in hot flash management (2).

Most often EPO supplements come in the form of a capsule. Check with a qualified health professional to see if this would be appropriate for you.

Ginseng Tea

Ginseng typically refers to the root of a group of related slow-growing plants. This herb has been used in traditional medicines for centuries for its various health benefits such as strengthening the immune system, regulating blood sugars, and assisting in the management of menopausal symptoms. 

In one study, 72 women were supplemented with ginseng daily for 12 weeks. Afterwards, the women had improved scores on the menopausal symptom questionnaires including the Kupperman Index and Menopause Rating Scale (3). These questionnaires focus on vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flashes and flushes, as well as mood symptoms such as nervousness and depression. As a result of daily ginseng supplementation, the women also showed other health benefits such as lower cholesterol levels (3). 

Ginseng has been shown to not only be effective in the management of menopause symptoms, but also in managing the functional implications of these symptoms. Menopausal women often report lower libido and poorer sexual experiences. One study evaluated how ginseng supplementation improved sexual function for menopausal women. 31 participants received three ginseng capsules daily. This supplementation significantly improved self-reported scores of sexual function and arousal, indicating that ginseng may be an effective alternative medicine for improving the sexual life of menopausal women (4).

Ginseng can be taken as a supplement in the form of a tablet or can be consumed as a tea, although with teas it is difficult to know if you are receiving a therapeutic dose. Before taking ginseng, you should speak with your family physician or naturopathic doctor to ensure there are no possible interactions with any medications you may be taking, such as medications to lower your blood sugar, or particular classes of antidepressants.

Red Clover

Red clover is an herbaceous flower that historically has been used to help manage varying health conditions including menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, low bone density, and also has positive effects on high cholesterol. The reason red clover is believed to be effective at managing these symptoms is because it contains phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are molecules made in plants, that have a similar chemical composition to estrogen, which declines in women during menopause. To read more about phytoestrogens and why they may be recommended for menopausal women, check out our menopause article.

The evidence for the effectiveness of red clover in managing menopause symptoms is mixed. In one study, 177 menopausal women took supplementation of red clover phytoestrogens for 12 months. Bone density was found to be significantly higher in the group that took the red clover supplement compared to the placebo group (5). In another study, 60 menopausal women received red clover supplement for 90 days. Women who received the supplement showed improved scores on the Kupperman Index and experienced decreased menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats (6).

While the above studies demonstrate positive results, a broad-scope literature review found that red clover appears to “have at best only minimal effect on menopausal symptoms” (7). The apparent mixed results in the literature demonstrates that if you, your loved one, or your client, is wishing to try red clover supplementation for management it’s a good idea to check with your health professional to make sure this is the right fit for you! 

Black Cohosh

One of the most popular supplements for women’s health is black cohosh. Black cohosh is a flowering plant that has been shown to have multiple benefits for women’s health including the management of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), improving the effectiveness of fertility, improving menstrual cycle regulation, and managing menopause symptoms. It can be taken either as a tablet or made into a tea.

Similar to red clover, black cohosh contains phytoestrogens, which are thought to mimic the actions of estrogen in the human body, and therefore mitigate symptoms related to menopause. One study enrolled 80 menopausal women to receive black cohosh supplement for 8 weeks. This trial showed that black cohosh was able to reduce both the severity and frequency of hot flashes (8). Not surprisingly, these study participants reported that when taking the supplement their quality of life increased as well, likely due to their better managed symptoms (8).

In a separate study of 174 women, 32 received black cohosh supplementation while 143 received menopausal hormonal therapy. Both groups showed improved menopausal symptoms indicating that black cohosh supplementation may be a feasible alternative for menopausal women, in place of hormonal therapy (9).

In addition to the physical symptoms of menopause, consuming black cohosh also has benefits for the mental health of menopausal women. A recent systematic review recently examined a variety of herbal medicines for their efficacy on managing symptoms of depression and anxiety. With supplementation of black cohosh, the authors noted a reduction in psychological symptoms associated with depression and anxiety in menopausal women (10).   

In Summary

While there are many herbal medicines with evidence to support menopausal symptoms, it is important to always consider potential complicating factors, such as other medications you may be taking. Before consuming any herbal medicines, it is smart to speak with your health care professional, such as a naturopathic doctor about what is best for you. Whether it be through a tablet supplement or an herbal tea, herbal medicines may be a helpful solution for better managing your symptoms related to menopause. 

 

References 

  1. Farzaneh, F., Fatehi, S., Sohrabi, M., & Alizabdeh, K. (2013). The effect of oral evening primrose oil on menopausal hot flashes: a randomized clinical trial. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 288, 1075-1079. doi: 10.1007/s00404-013-2852-6
  2. Kelley, K., & Carroll, D. (2010). Evaluating the evidence for over-the-counter alternative for relief of hot flashes in menopausal women. Journal of the American Pharmacies Association, 50(5), 106-115. doi: 10.1331/JAPhA.2010.09243
  3. Kim, S., Seo, S., Choi, Y.M., Jeon, Y., Lim, K., Cho, S., Choi, Y.S., & Lee, B. (2012). Effects of red ginseng supplementation on menopausal symptoms and cardiovascular risk factors in postmenopausal women: a double-blind randomized controlled trial.  Menopause, 19(4), 461-466. doi: 10.1097/gme0b013e3182325e4b
  4. Oh, K., Chae, M., Lee, H., Hong, H., & Park, K. (2010). Effects of Korean Red Ginseng on Sexual Arousal in Menopausal Women: Placcebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Crossover Clinical Study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(4), 1469-1477. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01700.x
  5. Atkinson, C., Compston, J., Day, N., Dowsett, M., & Bingham, S. (2004). The effects of phytoestrogen isoflavones on bone density in women: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trail. The American Jounral of Clinical Nutrition, 79(2), 326-333. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/79.2.326
  6. Hidalgo, L., Chedraui, P., Morocho, N., Ross, S., & Migeul, G. (2005). The effect of red clover isoflavones on menopausal symptoms, lipids and vaginal cytology in menopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Gynecological Endocrinology, 21(5), 257-264. doi: 10.1080/09513590500361192.
  7. Geller, S., & Studee, L. (2007). Botanical Dietary Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms: What Works, What Doesn’t. Journal of Women’s Health, 14(7), 634-649. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2005.14.634
  8. Mehrpooya, M., Rabiee, S., Larki-Harchegani, A., Fallahian, A., Moradi, A., Ataei, S., & Javad, M. (2018). A comparative study of the effect of “black cohosh” and “evening primose oil” on menopausal hot flashes. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 1(7), 36-38. doi: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_81_17.
  9. Friederichsen, L., Nebel, S., Zahner, C., Butikofer, L., & Stute, P. (2020). Effect of CIMicifuga racemose on metabolic parameters in women with menopausal symptoms: a retrospective observational study (CIMBOLIC). Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 301(2), 517-523. doi: 10.1007/s00404-019-05366-8.
  10. Shahmohammadi, A., Ramezanpour, N., Siuki, M., Dizavandi, F., Ghazanfarpour, M., Rahmani, Y., … & Babakhanian, M. (2019). The efficacy of herbal medicines on anxiety and depression in peri- and postmenopausal women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Post Reproductive Health, 25(3), 131-141. doi: 10.1177/2053369119841166.

Citrus Quinoa & Bean Salad

Citrus Quinoa & Bean Salad

Two Glasses with Detox Green Smoothie
Filling up on our daily vegetables is important to maintain the health of all of our bodily systems, however, daily vegetable consumption has shown to be particularly beneficial for women currently managing symptoms of menopause. The vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and more found in vegetables is critical for supporting the health of our body’s including the endocrine system.

This recipe is filled with a variety of vegetables, including red bell pepper, red onion, avocado, parsley, and cherry tomatoes, offering a range of vitamins and minerals, perfect for women’s health. A staggering 17,473 women participated in the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification trial which included increasing daily consumption of fruits and vegetables every day for a year. This led to a reduction of hot flashes and night sweats for menopausal women (1).

This colourful bowl is not only filled with vegetables but contains 40% of the recommended daily intake of protein. The high protein content comes mostly from the black beans and chickpeas in this recipe, plus an extra bit of protein from the quinoa. Consistent consumption of protein is important to support bone density and prevent age-related muscle loss (2).

The dressing for this bowl includes lemon, lime, and garlic which really enhances the flavours of this colourful bowl. Garlic specifically is a highly regarded spice known for reducing inflammation across bodily systems. Research has shown that individuals who take garlic supplements have lower markers of inflammation in their blood (3).

 

  1. Kroenke, C., Caan, B., Stafanick, M., Anderson, G., Brzyski, R., Johnson, K., … & Wallace, R. (2012). Effects of a dietary intervention and weight change on vasomotor symptoms in the Women’s Health Initiative. Menopause, 19(9), 980-988. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31824f606e
  2. Paddon-Jones, D., & Rasmussen, B. (2009). Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 12(1), 86-90. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32831cef8b.
  3. Mirzavandi, F., Mollahosseini, M., Salehi-Abargouei, A., Makiabadi, E., & Mozaffari-Khosravi, H. (2020). Eeffects of garlic supplementation on serum inflammatory markers: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, 14(5), 1153-1161. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2020.06.031

Citrus Quinoa and Bean Salad

This recipe is filled with a variety of vegetables, including red bell pepper, red onion, avocado, parsley, and cherry tomatoes, offering a range of vitamins and minerals, perfect for women’s health.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 2 servings

Ingredients
  

  • cup Quinoa dry
  • 1 cup Black Beans canned, drained, rinsed
  • 1 cup Chickpeas canned, drained, rinsed
  • ½ Red Bell Pepper chopped
  • ¼ cup Red Onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes chopped
  • ½ Avocado pitted, diced
  • ½ Orange or 1 Clementine Diced
  • Dressing
  • Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • ½ Garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ Cup Parsley choppewd
  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt
  • Spouts to garnish (optional)
  • Lime Wedges to garnish (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Cook quinoa according to package directions. Set the cooked quinoa aside to cool slightly.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, add the remaining salad ingredients to a medium sized bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, add the dressing ingredients and combine well.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad mixture and toss, being sure the salad mixture is well coated.
  • Add additional salt or lemon juice to taste.
  • To assemble, split quinoa between serving bowls, then top with salad mixture. Garnish with sprouts and lime wedges if using. Enjoy!

Notes

Nutritional information per serving:
Calories: 423
Carbs: 72g
Fibre: 21g
Sugar: 13g
Protein: 18g
Fat: 10g

Nutrition Support To Help Manage Your Menopause Symptoms

Nutrition Support To Help Manage Your Menopause Symptoms

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

The word menopause is often perceived as a daunting word to many women. By definition, menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her body stops menstruating. Specifically, menopause is confirmed 12 months after her final period. However, this is a simple definition, as the symptoms associated with menopause can last for years. Most commonly, symptoms include weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, changes to mood, and changes in muscle composition. These symptoms are mainly triggered by decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone.

Throughout adult life these hormones are responsible for regulating processes such as menstruation and pregnancy. They are also responsible for developing feminine physical characteristics such as wide hips and breasts during puberty. These hormones are also known to work with neurotransmitters to provide an overall mood boost. However, during menopause the decline in these hormones leads directly to symptoms that many women find challenging to navigate. This article will walk you through helpful nutrition tips to help manage these symptoms, so you can stay focused on life’s important activities! 

Top 5 Nutrition Tips To Help Manage Menopause Symptoms

Have Healthy Fats

If you are experiencing weight gain as a symptom of menopause, consuming fatty foods is likely something you are avoiding. However, recent research shows that including healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, in your diet may be beneficial for women currently managing menopause.

One meta-analysis reviewed multiple studies which had a total of 438 menopausal women participate. Supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids was found to reduce both the frequency and severity of night sweats (1). It is important to note that there was no conclusive evidence found for the reduction of hot flashes or weight gain. So, while more research is needed, incorporating more healthy fats into your diet may be something you should consider if you are experiencing menopausal night sweats. 

Commonly, omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon and mackerel, and seeds such as chia, flaxseed, and hemp seeds. If you are looking for inspiration on how to incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, check out our recipe page. Our Rosemary Walnut Crusted Salmon and Grain-Free Mediterranean Mackerel Pasta is loaded omega-3 fatty acids to best support you! 

Pick Phytoestrogens

While the term phytoestrogen may sound intimidating, it is actually referring to estrogen compounds that are produced naturally by plants (instead of being produced by the human body). These plant-based compounds mimic the effect of estrogen in our body, but to a much weaker extent. This can be helpful at managing symptoms during menopause, when our natural estrogen levels are declining. The most well-known source of phytoestrogen comes from the soybean; however, they are also found in chickpeas, berries, flaxseeds, grapes, and more.

There has been controversy about the potential negative effects associated with the consumption of phytoestrogens, as it has been suggested that they can disrupt our body’s hormone balance. However, research points to the conclusion that in moderate levels there is unlikely to be any resulting negative impacts in humans (2). The same research alludes that it would take significant highly levels of consumption of phytoestrogens to have any toxic effect (2).

One research study examined 51 menopausal women who were provided with a high phytoestrogen diet over six weeks. The participants showed a decreased in symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing (3).

Try this delicious Cinnamon Flax Pudding Parfait as an excellent breakfast or snack option to help you incorporate more phytoestrogens into your diet! 

Consume More Fruits And Vegetables

Everyone recognizes fruits and vegetables as a healthy component of our diet, so it likely comes as no surprise that these foods are beneficial for supporting the symptoms of menopause. Fruits and vegetables are packed with a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber which benefit all of our bodily systems, including our endocrine system, the system responsible for our hormone levels.

There is no shortage of evidence supporting the increase in dietary intake of fruits and vegetables in menopausal women. The Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification trial evaluated the diet of an impressive 17,473 women in the united states. This diet modification included the reduction of unhealthy fats, and the increase of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, for one year. Results showed that this diet was correlated with weight loss, and a reduction in hot flashes and night sweats (4). Even more fascinating is that women who lost >10% of their baseline body weight had higher likelihood of reducing their other symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats (4). 

Even fruit and vegetable supplements, have been shown to be effective for helping menopausal women manage their symptoms. In one study, 91 menopausal women grape seed oil tablet supplements for 8 weeks. The participants a significant reduction in hot flashes and insomnia, as well as improved mood and increased muscle mass (5).

As we try to fit fruits and vegetables into our daily meals, coming up with creative recipes can be challenging. For new inspiration, check out our Cauliflower, Kale, and Lentil soup or our Citrus Quinoa & Bean Salad for fresh ways to get your fruits and vegetables.

Eat More Quality Proteins (Including Eggs)

Menopausal women are likely to experience a decrease in muscle mass and bone density secondary to their declining estrogen levels (6). Therefore, it is important for menopausal women to include in their diet, food that will keep their bones and muscles strong, such as protein. Protein is found in eggs, lean meat, fish, and vegetables such as beans and lentils. Protein supplements have also become a popular way for individuals to increase their protein consumption.

One study examined 131 postmenopausal women who took daily protein supplements for 1 year. Individuals who took the supplements, compared to a placebo, had significantly better bone mineral density (7). Another study found that daily protein consumption showed promise for preventing age-related muscle loss (8). 

One way to incorporate more protein into your daily diet is to consider eating eggs for breakfast. Our Spinach Scramble is an excellent source of protein (and fruit)! 

Say No To Sugar

Consuming high amounts of sugar isn’t recommended for anyone, however avoiding sugar, specifically refined sugar, has extra benefits for menopausal women. Of course, eating refined sugars leads to sharp rises and declines in your blood sugar levels. While this is known to have a well-studied impact on mood, the link is even stronger for menopausal women. Evidence shows that women who had diets higher in refined carbs and sugars had a higher incidence of depression (9).

Additionally, menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, have been found to be associated with increases in blood sugar (10). Research also shows that menopausal women with diets high in refined sugar have poorer bone quality (11). 

For a sweet option low in refined sugar, take a look at our Apple Berry Crisp recipe! 

In Summary

The symptoms that come along with menopause can be challenging to cope with. However, research tells us that through dietary changes, it is possible to manage these symptoms. Filling your body with the good – such as healthy fats, phytoestrogens, fruits and vegetables, and proteins – while avoiding refined sugars may be able to help you, your loved one, or your client manage their menopausal symptoms.

 

References

  1. Mohammady, M., Janani, L., Jahanfar, S., & Mousavi, M. (2018). Effect of omega-3 supplements on vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 228, 295-302. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2018.07.008
  2. Patisaul, H., & Jefferson, W. (2010). The pros and cons of phytoestrogens. Frontier Neuroendocrinology, 31(4), 400-419. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2010.03.003.
  3. Washburn, S., Burke, G., Morgan, T., & Anthony, M. (1999). Effect of soy protein supplementation on serum lipoporteins, blood pressure, and menopausal symptoms in perimenopausal women, Menopause, 6(1), 7-13. doi: 10100174.
  4. Kroenke, C., Caan, B., Stafanick, M., Anderson, G., Brzyski, R., Johnson, K., … & Wallace, R. (2012). Effects of a dietary intervention and weight change on vasomotor symptoms in the Women’s Health Initiative. Menopause, 19(9), 980-988. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31824f606e
  5. Terauchi, M., Horiguchi, N., Kajiyama, A., Akiyoshi, M., Owa, Y., Kato, K., & Kubota, T. (2014). Effects of grape seed proanthocyanidin extract on menopausal symptoms, body composition, and cardiovascular parameter in middle-aged women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Menopause, 21(9), 990-996. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000200.
  6. Maltais, M., Desroches, J., & Dionne, J. (2009). Changes in muscle mass and strength after menopause. Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions, 9(4). 186-197. doi: 19949277
  7. Konig, D., Oesser, S., Scharla, S., Zdzieblik, D., & Gollhofer, A. (2018). Specific collagen peptides improve bone mineral density and bone markers in postmenopausal women – a randomized controlled study. Nutrients, 10(1), 97-101. doi: 10.3390/nu10010097.
  8. Paddon-Jones, D., & Rasmussen, B. (2009). Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 12(1), 86-90. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32831cef8b.
  9. Gangwisch, J., Hale, L., Garcia, L., Malaspina, D., Opler, M., Payne, M., … & Lane, D. (2015). High glycemic index diet as a risk factor for depression: analysis from the Women’s Health Initiative. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102(2), 454-463. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.103846.
  10. Thurston, R., Khoudary, S., Sutton-Tyrrell, K., Crandall, C., Sternfeld, B., Joffe, H., … & Matthews, K. (2012). Vasomotor symptoms and insulin resistance in the study of women’s health across the nation. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 97(10), 3487-3494.
  11. Hardcastle, A., Aucott, L., Fraser, W., Reid, D., & Macdonald, H. (2010). Dietary patterns, bone resorption and bone mineral density in early post-menopausal Scottish women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 65(3), 378-385. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.264