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Do Herbal Supplements Really Help Treat Menopause?


Alternative treatments for menopause have been gaining popularity. Though further studies on the effectiveness are needed, these methods promise inexpensive and natural alternative to more established treatment options.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and side effects of herbal supplements for the treatment of menopause.

What Are Herbal Supplements?

Walk down the supplement aisle of any health foods store, and you'll find herbal treatments for seemingly every ailment. But where do these supplements come from? And how can you know if they are effective?

Unfortunately, studies are inconclusive on the effectiveness of most herbal treatments. That being said, most herbal supplements are rooted in the medicinal traditions of their country of origin. When used properly and in the correct dosage, herbal treatments can be as effective as medications. Before starting an herbal supplement routine, it's important to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of this type of treatment.

For the treatment of menopause, herbal remedies can be divided into two categories: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating herbal supplements.

Phytoestrogenic Supplements

Phytoestrogenic herbs contain phytoestrogens, a plant hormone thought to mimic estrogen in the human body. These herbs include:

  • Black cohosh
  • Dong quai
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Ginseng
  • Soy
  • Red clover

By balancing estrogen levels, which are often imbalanced during menopause, phytoestrogenic herbs are thought to relieve many symptoms. These types of herbs provide relief for menopausal symptoms, but can also hinder the body's ability to produce estrogen naturally, so long-term use is not recommended.

Hormone-regulating Herbal Supplements

These supplements do not contain plant-based hormones. They work instead by stimulating the glands that produce the body's natural hormones.

Choosing the Right Supplement

Combined with improved diet and exercise, taking herbal supplements can be an effective, natural alternative during menopause. Talk to your doctor if your menopausal symptoms worsen or if you have concerns about combining herbal supplements with other medications.

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  • BMJ Group. "Menopause: What is it?" Patient Leaflet. 2007.
  • Hopkins, Virginia. Lee, John R. M.D. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. New York: Warner Books Inc., 1996.
  • Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
  • Martin, Raquel. The Estrogen Alternative. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2000.