Health Team

Herbal supplement could help ease menopause symptoms

Posted June 15, 2011

— Some women might be able to handle the symptoms of menopause without medical assistance.  Many others need help but are afraid of the possible side effects of hormone replacement therapy.

Susan Long first experienced menopause four years ago, when she was 49 years old.

“I started waking up at night and feeling extraordinarily warm,” Long recalled.

Long went to Raleigh gynecologist Dr. Polly Watson for help but she wanted to avoid hormone replacement therapy.

“I think when the Women's Health Initiative was published – it was a large study – it scared a lot of women out of taking hormones,” Watson said.

The institute’s group of studies showed estrogen plus progestin increased the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Black cohosh, an herbal supplement, is one non-hormonal option for those suffering from menopause symptoms.

“Some of them can be liver toxic, so we do, for instance, want to follow liver functions if someone’s on black cohosh,” Watson said.

Herbs can replace hormones Herbs can replace hormones

The supplement worked for Long, but only for awhile. Then, she began having other symptoms, including memory problems and irritability.

“You'd probably have to ask my husband about that because it was pretty rough for awhile,” Long said.

Watson offered Long an anti-depressant medication known as an SSRI, which also controls hot flashes.

Later, she prescribed bio-identical estrogen and progesterone, which European data shows is less risky than standard hormone therapy. However, several medical groups in the country, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, say the drugs should be considered a similar risk to hormone replacement therapy. 

Long was willing to try the medications. 

“Literally, within three weeks, I felt like I had my life back,” she said.

Menopause can last, on average, about four years.

Long is still experiencing symptoms, but she said regularly visiting her doctor to tailor treatments to her changing needs has made all the difference.

Watson said patients should always check with a doctor before taking herbal supplements because some may interact with other medications.


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  • ncfemale Jun 20, 2011

    I have been in full-blown menopause for 10 years now. The waking up at night, the severe hot flashes, the horrible mood swings, etc., etc. But because many many years ago, I had a blood clot so dr. doesn't want to give me anything. I'm at the point that I really don't care about side-effects / dangers .... I need relief just to make it through each day. Suggestions?????

  • ttskkgrandmommy Jun 20, 2011

    I just deal with it because I know it will not last forever and I do not want to take something that "research" will find later caused me health problems that I didn't even have to begin with.

  • vjayd Jun 17, 2011

    Despite research suggesting the contrary, I have obtained complete relief from menopausal symptoms by putting two tablespoons of milled flaxseed in my morning smoothie. Several friends have experienced the same relief. (Age 54-in year one of "the life change")

  • jennburch Jun 17, 2011

    Hormone balance is the important part of hormone replacement therapy. Testing of hormone levels needs to be part of the plan. The best way to test is a saliva test and THEN if needed correct hormone imbalances. Many times women don't even need estrogen supplementation. Check out Hormone balance is what I specialize in and we make womne feel better!

  • IzzMad2016 Jun 16, 2011

    BTW, Estroven is an all-natural, over-the-counter supplement.

  • mulecitybabe Jun 16, 2011

    Any woman considering the use of hormones should investigate the abuse of horses from which the hormones are made. I would never use those hormones, because I can't stand the thought of animals suffering (and their babies being put to death) just so I can feel better.

  • IzzMad2016 Jun 16, 2011

    I used Estroven for a couple of years and felt it helped for a while. It definitely diminished the intensity of a lot of hot flashes.

  • csewell Jun 16, 2011

    Menopause does not last 4 years. It is for the rest of your life. Symptoms may get worse or better but there is no end to menopause.

  • lorac Jun 15, 2011

    There are other supplements that can help menopasue symptoms besides Black Cohosh. IF you check with the health food stores, you can tailor the proper ones to suit your symptoms. I am glad to see that the medical professionis admitting that there is more to health than what the big drug companies want you to take. C. Gacioch RN RHIA