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!