Herbal treatments for menopause
This plant has been used by Native Americans for centuries to relieve the symptoms of menopause. Studies have shown its potential as a remedy, but it may not be advised for women with oestrogen-related conditions like breast, ovarian or uterine cancer. Black cohosh interacts with some medications and other supplements, so it's best to get it prescribed by a pro.
Also known as plant-based oestrogens, phytoestrogens are thought to help by increasing the effect of oestrogen on the body. Linseeds, sesame seeds, wholegrains, lentils and soy beans are all good sources.
Speaking of linseeds – studies show they can result in fewer hot flushes and reduced vaginal dryness. The most effective dose is thought to be 40g per day, split across two servings.
In a study, women who took 330mg of licorice extract three times a day for eight weeks reduced the severity and frequency of their hot flushes. However, if high blood pressure is a problem for you, you should give it a miss.
A 255mg dose three times a day for eight weeks was found to reduce the number and severity of hot flushes. It may also help you to sleep better.
Taking sage capsules may help reduce excessive sweating.
Pharmaceutical treatments for menopause
Available through doctors and some naturopaths, these medications use plant hormones that mimic human ones like oestrogen and progesterone (unlike traditional hormone replacement therapies – see the box below – which use synthetically produced versions).
These have been shown to reduce heavy bleeding, cramping and some of the effects of decreasing hormone levels, such as bone loss and endometrial and ovarian cancers.
Low-dose oestrogen pills, patches and creams can reduce severe hot flushes. Some antidepressants may also help.
Apply before sex to reduce vaginal dryness.