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Hormone Havoc in Menopause

Does the menopausal transition feel like a brick wall separating you from the vibrant health you once knew? If you are a woman in your 40s or 50s and feel hormonal changes rolling over you like a tsunami, you are likely in the menopausal transition.

Many women in the mid-life decades and beyond feel frustrated with insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, brain fog, mood changes, low libido, and weight gain. Menopause is a highly individual experience and some women will be minimally affected while others will Fortunately, the paradigm of simply suffering through hormonal havoc is closing its last chapter. Women all over the world are waking up to the fact that the body can thrive at any age. Aging is no longer synonymous with feeling terrible.

The key to thriving in the midst of menopause is about giving the body the right support to thrive.

The earth is teeming with natural medicines in the forms of plants and foods, which were put on the planet to promote health. In fact, natural healers across many cultures have been aware of this for centuries.

Even better, scientific research is taking an interest in these natural therapies to understand how they benefit the body. Natural methods are no longer considered pseudoscience as research continues to back the beneficial effects on the body.

Perhaps after decades of conventional medicine dominating the conversation around health, awareness of the power of natural methods has faded into the background. As the gaps in what conventional rituals can achieve become increasingly more evident, people are turning back to holistic therapies for relief.

There is no better example than menopause care. Staggeringly, a 2019 study found that 58% of medical students get one lecture on menopause care. 20% of medical students get no education on menopause care at all.

Women are turning back to natural solutions for answers. Women want safe, effective, and noninvasive support to smooth out the rocky road that is the menopausal transition.

Unveiling The Secrets of Natural Solutions for Menopause

What exactly is it in plants and foods that can smooth the rough waters of hormone havoc during menopause? Women all over the world are seeking holistic, non-invasive health support.

The answer is phytoestrogens.

Menopause is defined as the period of declining ovarian function that can span many years. On average, menopause occurs at age 51. Perimenopause is the period of time before menopause when ovulation becomes infrequent and irregular.

The ovaries produce hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

As a potent female hormone, fluctuations in estrogen in particular cause many of the symptoms of menopause.

Estrogen-Mediated Symptoms of Menopause:

  1. Hot Flashes
  2. Night Sweats
  3. Memory loss/ brain fog
  4. Vaginal dryness
  5. Bone loss
  6. Lackluster, crepey skin

While the drop in estrogen with menopause is normal and natural, the symptoms above can feel anything but normal.

The step towards biohacking menopause is releasing the idea that what is natural and normal cannot be changed. Just because menopause is natural does not mean that we should not support women holistically through the transition.

Phytoestrogens in plants and foods act on estrogen receptors, much like estrogen in the body does. While phytoestrogens are not identical to estrogen in the body, they act on the same receptors natural estrogen acts on. This supports and modulates estrogen activity in the body, calming bothersome symptoms of menopause.

What are the highest-yield herbs in terms of phytoestrogen activity? Consider these herbs when thinking about your plan to support yourself through the menopausal transition:

  1. Red clover
  2. Hops
  3. Sage
  4. Black Cohosh
  5. Dong Quai

Don't care to swallow pills? Not a problem. Herbs make wonderful, aromatic teas. Don't like tea or pills? Try a tincture, which is an alcohol extract of herbs in liquid form. Simply drop into lukewarm water and swallow. Botanical medicines have diverse ways to incorporate them into your daily routine.

As with any new supplements, be sure to consult with your physician beforehand to ensure that you do not have any underlying medical conditions that might not make you a good fit for herbal therapies.

Phytoestrogenic Foods for Hormone Balance

Food is medicine and the food we choose to eat can have therapeutic benefits. Fortunately for women navigating the challenges of menopause, certain foods can have positive impacts on the female hormonal system.

What do the Japanese do so well when it comes to hormone health? The answer is phytoestrogenic foods. Research shows Japanese women with high intakes of soy, a traditional staple food, experience much fewer hot flashes and night sweats during menopause.

Soy is not the only food packed with estrogen-balancing compounds. Soy can be an allergen for some people, so other options may be needed to get an adequate intake of phytoestrogens.

Top Phytoestrogenic Foods:

  1. Soy

    Suggestions for uses: steamed edamame, marinated tofu, soy milk, or tempeh.

  2. Flaxseed

    Suggestions for uses: Freshly grind instead of eating whole. Whole flaxseeds are resistant to digestion. Add 1-2 tablespoons into smoothies or yogurt.

  3. Dried Fruit

    Suggestions for use: Snack on whole dried fruit or add to customized trail mixes. Consider researching Moroccan recipes as they heavily utilize dried fruit.

  4. Garlic

    Suggestions for use: Sauté with your vegetables or make Toum, a simple Middle Eastern garlic sauce that goes on kabobs, falafel, and shawarma.

  5. Chickpeas

    Suggestions for use: Snack on more hummus or make crispy seasoned chickpeas in your oven as a crunchy topping on salads.

  6. Pomegranate

    Suggestions for use: Add pomegranate arils (seeds) to yogurt or eat these delicious, ruby red, sweet seeds alone.

  7. Cruciferous Vegetables

    Suggestions for use: Try cauliflower rice as an alternative to regular rice, which can be found in the freezer section or made fresh at home with a food processor. Kale chips are a salty, crunchy snack you can bake in your oven.

Dr. Laurel Ash ND, MS

Dr Laurel Ash, ND, MS is an Oregon and Washington board-certified Naturopathic Physician. With a passion for nutritional health, Dr Ash earned her doctorate in Naturopathy from the National University of Natural Medicine while receiving her masters in Integrative Mental Health. Her unique combination of evidence-based research and skilled knowledge in holistic medicine has allowed Dr. Ash to successfully treat many with a wide-range of issues.