This article is for all those women who are considering Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) following Menopause or Hysterectomy. In brief, HRT is a medical treatment for menopause that provides low doses of hormones (estrogen and sometimes others like testosterone and progesterone) which the body does not produce any more. We will not focus on the risks or benefits of HRT; instead we will cover in detail 12 of the best, proven all natural, herbal and holistic hormone replacement therapy alternatives.
There are several natural alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy including Herbal medicine, Alternative medicine, Complementary medicine etc. In fact, there are over 200 alternative medicines that can be used for treating menopausal symptoms. Many have been scientifically studied and have been known to be safe and effective in alleviating symptoms of Menopause. Let us discuss some lifestyle changes along with these non-conventional HRT remedies that can help women reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, mood changes, vaginal dryness etc.
1. Add low intensity workout to your daily routine
Women must choose low intensity aerobic exercises such as walking, running, cycling and swimming. Avoid infrequent high intensity exercise as it can increase your symptoms. Yoga and Tai’Chi are also great workouts. These help with hot flushes and are considered as some of the best natural alternatives to hormone replacement therapy.
2. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Limit caffeine, soda and alcohol – one of the simplest ways to prevent hot flushes and night sweats.
3. Use vaginal lubrication
You can use all natural lube like Coconut oil or go for vaginal serums that increase lubrication down there. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Quit smoking as it is one of the proven habits that further decrease lubrication. Also drink 8-10 glasses of water every day.
4. Take St. John’s Wort
While not an herbal estrogen replacement therapy, this herb can certainly help with depression symptoms that affect pre-and post menopausal women. Talk to your GP before taking this remedy since it can interfere with other conventional medicines. Note that this natural HRT alternative does not help against hot flushes.
5. Go for Acupressure
This is not a proven bioidentical hormone replacement therapy alternative but it is certainly known to reduce headaches, pain and symptoms of depression that plague women following menopause. It is also known to reduce hot flushes and night sweats.
6. Use Black cohosh
Some preliminary evidence has proven Black Cohosh to be effective against hot flushes and night sweats as it is an estrogen modulator. More research is needed to ascertain this as an effective herbal estrogen replacement therapy. Also, it may have side effects, so stop use immediately if you have stomach cramps, yellowing of skin and eyes etc. You can safely take up to 160 mg of Black Cohosh daily.
7. Use herbal estrogen replacement therapy remedies
In fact many herbal alternatives to HRT are known to help alleviate pain, cramps, depression and anxiety in menopause following hysterectomy surgery. These include Licorice, Valerian Root, Gingko Biloba, Celery, Sage and Chasterberry. Few studies have been conducted on their efficacy in treating major menopausal symptoms. 500 mg of Sage leaf extracts daily can help with night sweats.
8. Take Homeopathy for HRT
Homeopathic remedies for Hormone Replacement include St. John’s Wort or Hypericum (described above), Black Cohosh, Agnus Castus or Chaste berry and Sepia or cuttlefish Ink. In fact, a German remedy called Mulimen comprises of all these extracts and is known to help women alleviate menopausal hot flushes.
9. Take DHEA
DHEA or Dehydroepiandrosterone is known to improve memory problems, increase sexual libido as well as impart a sense of well being following menopause which is why it may be the “New Menopause Wonder Drug”. DHEA can also reduce vaginal dryness to a large extent so take up to 50 mg of DHEA per day.
10. Phytoestrogens- all natural hormone replacement therapy
Phytoestrogens are plant based estrogens which include Soy, chickpeas, beans and peas. Diets rich in these can help alleviate menopausal symptoms. Soy products and Soy Isoflavone supplements are known to relieve many menopause problems. However, these must not be taken for long periods. An effective dosage ranges between 30-90 mg of concentrated isolated Soy Isoflavone or component of 40 grams of soy protein. Red Clover also contains Soy Isoflavones which has been tested on sheep and shown good results. Red Clover up to 40 mg daily can also maintain healthy functioning of arteries which diminishes after menopause.
11. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy- Progesterone skin creams
Many brands of all natural and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy creams are available in the market. The dermis of the skin absorbs these progesterone skin creams in small quantities to prevent night flushes, as well as extreme skin dryness that may occur following menopause. More studies are needed to see if these are safe and effective for menopause symptoms.
Meditation is another proven all natural therapy for alleviating menopause symptoms. Meditate twice daily by focusing on breath or by using chants etc. This can reduce stress hormones and also stimulate the mood and alleviate signs of depression.
Many other natural remedies are also recommended for Menopause as HRT alternatives. These include Dong Quai, Ginseng, Evening Primrose Oil, Beta Blockers, Large doses of Vitamin E, Kava Kava etc. None of these are proven to help symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, nighttime sweating and so on. Kava Kava is even known to damage liver when consumed in large quantities. So do talk to a trained herbalist or a GP before using these holistic hormone replacement therapy alternatives.