Early in perimenopause, I was complaining to Lei-Venus that I was feeling heat crest in waves over me, but even more upsetting to me was the change in my sleep patterns. Having always slept soundly, I was now waking every hour or two and experiencing nights of restless, broken sleep. Without a word, Lei grabbed me by the hand and pulled me bodily down the street to the health food store. She plunked a jar of Natural Woman progesterone cream in my hand, declaring "Buy this now – it may take up to two weeks to help, but you’ll be a new woman." I felt the difference in two days. After a week, I was sleeping through the night again.
In the beginning of perimenopause, progesterone levels drop which can begin the annoying symptoms of hot flashes, insomnia, and mood swings. Natural progesterone cream is a good first step and may be all you need to weather the storm of symptoms. I can report that it was a godsend for some of us goddesses during this transition – and, sad to say, didn’t work much for others. Remember rule # 2 from March 28 blog entry on "Choosing The Right Menopause Remedy For You"? What Works for One Venus May Not Work For Another. You’ll have to try it and monitor your own response to see if it helps you.
Emerita’s Pro-Gest (www.emerita.com), and Natural Woman (www.prodnature.com) are the Venus group’s favorite natural progesterone creams but there are others on the market. A cautionary note: Mexican wild yam cream is not as effective as natural progesterone cream, as it is a precursor to the hormone and not in a usable form for our bodies.
Dong Quai, Burdock Root, Red Clover, Black Cohosh, Evening Primrose Oil, Cod Liver Oil
Studies show that women in Japan and China have much lower incidence of PMS or menopausal symptoms than do Americans. This could be due to DNA, but also could result from the facts that the usual Japanese diet is high in soy and dong quai is taken by many Chinese women from the time they are young.
Black cohosh, primrose oil, red clover, and burdock root are also time-honored remedies for menopausal symptoms. Blog reader Jacqueline has alerted us to cod liver oil as a remedy (Many thanks, J!) She recommends lemon flavor to overcome those nasty childhood memories of fish oil.
However, side effects do exist for these remedies and some women cannot tolerate these herbs. Natural does not necessarily mean completely harmless. Black cohosh and dong quai have been associated with high blood pressure in some women. Cod liver oil has been known to raise blood sugar and cholesterol, although it appears to be a dose dependant effect. It is also very important to assess whether there might be potential interactions with other medications that you are taking, before you take ANY supplements.
There are plenty of products that contain more than one of these herbs, however many also contain soy so read the labels if you are soy sensitive. (We"ll focus on soy next blog entry, since that’s a longer story.) Emerita makes a popular multiherbal supplement that contains no soy called "Menopause Plus Formula" (www. emerita.com). Remifemin is a popular black cohosh remedy. (www.remifemin.com) Both are sold in health food stores and many grocery stores as well.
Whatever remedies you choose, go slowly. Try one at a time and allow it sufficient time to work. Run all your choices by your trusted health care partner. Good luck and happy herbals to all goddesses in search of cooler days, restful nights, and emotional balance!
I've found the info on womentowomen.com to be invaluable for figuring out my options. Highly recommend it for a pretty balanced look at HRT, BHRT, herbs, etc. for menopause
Relax. Take the HRT. I take a very low dose combipatch, which I started cutting in half. Just enough to keep me from being homicidal, suicidal and anorgasmic. That big prempro study from 5 years ago had many flaws and exceptions. Do your health maintenance (mammo, etc), pay attention to your body, get a pelvic exam every 1-2 years, and let yourself have a little estrogen. Live a little, will ya!! You, your vagina, and your significant other will thank you. Amen.
Thanks, Jacqueline. Check out womeninbalance.org too – also really great. It's a non-profit foundation with a truly balanced look at all the issues.
As usual, you have outdone yourself, Lynette. Found this to be informative and helpful. May i say again, you are my heroine!
I am a strong believer in natural remedies. I don’t do well with medications or herbal therapy. My biggest problem was the insomnia, night sweats, hot flashes, heart palpitations, and migraines. After suffering for a long time, I paid attention to my habits. I noticed that I would fall asleep ok, but could not stay asleep. I was always tossing and turning looking for a cold spot on the bed as well as a cold pillow. My husband was being disturbed too. He did some internet research and found the Oasis Body Pillow and bought it for me. This pillow is your typical body pillow EXCEPT it heats and cools with a thermostatic controled unit with a remote! I have found when I lay down I am cold and have a hard time warming up. But then I get real hot real fast. With this pillow I sleep with it and I can control the temperature without ever leaving it! I just point and the remote tells me what the temperature is. I finally sleep through the night. I don’t have the heart palpitations or migraines any more. I did try the pillows that have the freezer packs to them but they always got warm. This pillow is amazing. I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants a non-medication or herbal treatment for insomnia or night sweats. Fabulous!
Annette, I am with you in trying natural rememdies. I do not like taking medications and if I can find something that does not require it I will try it. I have tried the Oasis Body Pillow and I am a big fan of it. Not only does it help me get to sleep because I suffer from hot flashes and night sweats but it is so comfortable. The temperature that I set the unit is at 70 degrees and during this summer our AC went out and I slept with the body pillow and I even had a light cotton blanket on. I slept through the night. I have also used it when I had a sore arm which required some heat. This Body Pillow unit has the capability to also warm the pillow. Since it has help me so much I have told all my friends about it and also health groups because if I can help someone get a good night sleep it is worth it.
At the risk of overposting, I want to agree with tiaula. I also seek out natural remedies. In another post here on menopause goddess I sang the praises of Femivital. It’s a 100% natural menopause supplement that uses plant “estrogens” to balance your hormone levels. The three main ones are black cohosh, red clover and hops. All have been clinically effective at reducing or eliminating menopause symptoms completely–night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, etc. If you’re interested, you can go to the Doctor’s Natural website (I forgot to mention the best part–Femivital was formulated by MDs) at doctorsnatural.com and look for Femivital.