Herbs & Food for Menopause
In traditional cultures menopause marks a time for celebration, for this is when a woman has completed her childbearing years and will move into a deeper level of self-discovery and spiritual awareness. She is now a wise woman. She will be looked up to and honoured, is counselled for her advice, and her opinions are part of the decision-making process within the community.
If you remove the clinical sounding title of ‘menopause’ and look at the essence, it is a time of great rest. Unfortunately, for some, once the ovaries go to rest and the exhausted adrenals take over, it becomes a challenging situation. Menopausal discomfort is becoming a reality for most modern women and can start happening from ages 30 to 55! When menstruation has completely ‘paused’ for an entire year, you are in menopause; before this time it is considered peri-menopause (1). I strongly believe that a healthy diet, reduction of chemical pollutants, a positive attitude as well as healthy adrenals, thyroid, and liver will help to create a harmonious hormone balance during menopause.
There is a simple protocol that many women have had success with over the years within my clinical practice. This protocol contains three targeted Herbal Food Groups, a healthy lifestyle and a basic supplement routine to make this protocol a success. These products are recommended to be taken for 3 to 6 months to see solid results, some holistic practitioners call it the “Estrogen-detox kit”!
- Liver support. Milk Thistle, NAC, and Schizandra. These herbsand amino acid “N Acetyl Cysteine” have been shown to help strengthen the liver (4), increase phase 2 detoxification enzyme “glutathione” which is considered the ‘toxin dump truck’ for the liver (5), and resolve liver stress by reducing fatty congestion (6).
- Herbal Hormone Support. Maca, Wild Yam, Black Cohosh and Vitex. These herbs are designed to help regulate hormone balance, enhance cellular assimilation of progesterone and estrogen (2), and they will nourish the adrenal and thyroid glands (3).
- Estrogen detox. DIM and I-3-C are cruciferous vegetable extracts (the broccoli and cabbage family). These extracts have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer, which is a known estrogen dominant disease (7). This product will help the body to detoxify or metabolize estrogens into the healthy usable form (7). Toxic estrogens called ‘xenoestrogens’ are increasingly abundant in our society. These estrogen mimickers come from plastics, petro chemical waste, by-products, exhaust, drugs, meat, etc. Having a congested liver and bowel will also harm your body’s utilization of plant-based estrogens and ones found in many foods. Dietary estrogens are sensitive and need a healthy body for processing or they too will become toxic (8). All these toxic estrogens lead to ‘Estrogen Dominance’; even though they are unusable and toxic, the body still counts them as estrogen and cuts off the other hormones from expressing balance, notably progesterone. A product such as DIM (di-indoylmethane) will cleanse out toxic estrogens, while setting up healthy pathways for proper estrogen metabolism (8).
This is the general protocol that has worked for many of my clients over the years. Most of these clients were already taking the basic top 5 essential supplements that everyone needs; a high quality whole food product such as Juice Plus, Mineral supplementation such as sea vegetables or chaga mushroom, Probiotics or Ferments, Omega-3 fatty acids and enough Vitamin D. This should be a good start for anyone experiencing uncomfortable menopausal symptoms.
These days of fast food, multi-tasking mothers, stressed out business women and chemicals in everything and everywhere- it is very difficult to find a balance without supplements or real nourishing food medicine.
Please Note: The information contained in this article is not intended to replace a one-to-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, and is not intended as medical advice, but as a simple safe and easy protocol for wellness. You are encouraged to make your health care decisions in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
- Hormones Made Simple, by Dr John Lee, 2006
- The Healing Power of Herbs, pg 376, Dr Micheal Murray, 1995. “Black Cohosh extract and foods that contain phytoestrogens show promise for the treatment of menopausal symptoms”, Ann Intern Med 2002 Nov 19.
- “Human studies with this herb indicate supplementation leads to enhanced sexual desire and may be helpful in women after menopause”, Ray Sahelian, M.D. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients November 1998 Issue #184 Medical Journalist Report of Innovative Biologics.
- “Immunomodulatory and hepatoprotective effects of in vivo treatment with free radical scavengers” http://www.thorne.com/silymarin.html
- Glutathione: systemic protectant against oxidative and free radical damage, PM Kidd – Altern Med Rev, 1997 – dockidd.com
- An update on the role of free radicals and antioxidant defense in human disease, G Vendemiale, I Grattagliano, International journal of clinical …, 1999
- “DIM for estrogen control”, MA Zeligs – anabolicminds.com. “Indole-3-carbinol selectively uncouples expression and activity of estrogen receptor subtypes in human breast cancer cells”, SN Sundar, V Kerekatte, CN Equinozio, 2006 – Endocrine Soc, endojournals.org
- “Diindolylmethane and genistein decrease the adverse effects of estrogen…” S Smith, D Sepkovic, HL Bradlow, Journal of Nutrition, 2008