Menopause And Alternative And Complementary Therapies

Alternative and complementary therapies are used in addition to or instead of medical treatments. Some women decide to try these remedies when they are experiencing symptoms of the menopause. Some examples include:

  • Phytoestrogens: phytoestrogens are extracted from plants and they have similar properties to oestrogen; there is a degree of interest in this therapy because in Japan, women tend to have fewer and less severe symptoms and their diet is rich in isoflavones, one of the main types of phytoestrogens. Isoflavones can be found in a variety of foods, including pulses and legumes and you can also take tablet supplements.
  • Herbal remedies: herbal remedies recommended for menopause include black cohosh, ginkgo, kava, dong quai and evening primrose oil.
  • Black cohosh: studies on animals show that black cohosh may help to ease symptoms due to its oestrogen-like effects; however, the long-term effects of using this remedy and unknown.
  • Ginkgo: this is used widely, particularly in eastern cultures; however, there is little formal evidence to suggest that it has any significant benefits.
  • Kava kava: evidence-based reviews show that this may be an effective solution for anxiety, but it has little effect on other menopausal symptoms.
  • Dong quai: this is an herbal remedy used widely in Chinese medicine; however, reviews have shown that it has no significant benefit.
  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E is sometimes touted as a solution for hot flushes; however, a study cited by the British Menopause Society showed the improvements were marginal and equated only to one less flush per day when compared to the placebo.
  • Homeopathic remedies: homeopathic remedies use incredibly small quantities of substances, which are related to the disease you are trying to combat; the idea is that the body will form a resistance and therefore symptoms will be gradually alleviated. There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the efficacy of homeopathy and research in this area is ongoing.

  • Acupuncture: acupuncture is a practice, which involves placing fine needles into the skin at specific points on the body. A study conducted by Sandberg et al 2002 showed no improvements in symptoms following acupuncture treatment.
  • Reflexology: reflexology is a technique, which involves applying pressure to certain areas of the feet to correspond to different body systems and parts. There has only been one trial published on the relationship between reflexology and menopause and no significant benefit was found.

The British Menopause Society states that there is very limited evidence to support the efficacy of alternative and complementary therapies when it comes to treating symptoms of menopause; however, some women claim that there therapies have provided them with significant benefits. If you are interested in therapies and you would prefer to try natural remedies before medical treatments, it may be worth trying some to see how you get on.

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