The hormonal changes of menopause can produce a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from hot flashes and vaginal dryness to anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Many of these symptoms are undoubtedly caused by the natural decrease in estrogen production that occurs at menopause; however, the human body is so complex that other hormonal factors also play a role.
Menopause is not a disease. It is clearly a natural process, but one that has fallen out of favor in modern society. We consider it a condition requiring treatment. Women no longer accept it as merely a part of life: the decrease in libido, pain during intercourse, years of hot flashes, and other uncomfortable problems that may accompany menopause. This raises an important point: How close to nature do we want to live? One of the most valued ideals of alternative medicine is the desire to trust nature, but sometimes, we may want to draw a line. For example, in nature, infant and maternal mortality is high.This process of survival of the fittest helps humanity as a species to be stronger, but it is not something that a compassionate society can tolerate. Thus, no matter what our ideals, we frequently find ourselves tampering with nature. The treatment of menopause is simply one example among many.
Conventional medicine recommends the use of estrogen replacement to provide two benefits: eliminating the symptoms of menopause and protecting against cardiovascular disease. Estrogen replacement therapy is quite effective in achieving these goals. However, like most medical treatments, it creates counterbalancing risks. The most frightening is the increased risk of breast cancer that appears to be associated with estrogen replacement. The decision to use estrogen replacement therapy should involve a careful examination of the risks and benefits in consultation with a physician. Specially-modified estrogens, such as Evista (raloxifene), appear to help osteoporosis and reduce the incidence of breast cancer, but they do not reduce symptoms of menopause.

Principal natural treatments
Several natural treatments may reduce menopausal symptoms. However, we do not know for sure whether any of them reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or osteoporosis.
Black cohosh: Widely used in Europe for menopausal symptoms.
Dosage: The standard dosage of black cohosh is 1 to 2 tablets twice daily of a standardized extract manufactured to contain 1 mg of 27-deoxyacteine per tablet.
Soy isoflavones: May reduce symptoms. Soy appears to protect against heart disease and breast and uterine cancer. However, it possibly may not be safe for those who already have had breast cancer. The best dosage of soy is unclear. One or two cups of soy milk or slices of tofu daily appear to be helpful. Various products containing concentrated isoflavones from soy or red clover have recently come on the market. However, although these supplements show promise, more research needs to be done to establish the correct dosage and to verify safety.

Other Natural Treatments
Vitamin E, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, essential fatty acids, an extract of rice bran called gamma-oryzanol, and the herbs licorice red clover, suma and chasteberry are reportedly helpful against the symptoms of menopause. The herb dong quai is also frequently recommended for menopausal symptoms.

The information contained in this web site is strictly intended for educational purposes. It is not intended for use as a diagnostic tool, prescription or as a medical advice. Consult your physician for professional advice.
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