The approach taken by a Medical Herbalist depends on each woman's precise symptoms and circumstances but many herbs can help tackle the effects of the menopause.
Herbs that help to balance hormone levels include Vitex and Paeony. Herbs with phytooestrogens -Black Cohosh, Wild Yam and Red Clover - support declining oestrogen levels.
Depression and anxiety can be reduced with nerve tonics such as St John’s Wort and Oat seed together with adrenal herbs such as Liquorice, Rhemannia, Withania and Siberian ginseng.
Hot flushes can be reduced by Sage or cardiovascular herbs such as Hawthorn and Motherwort. Hops are specifically indicated for insomnia caused by flushing and other herbs that help with insomnia include valerian, Skullcap and Passion Flower.
Combinations of these herbs can help relieve menopausal symptoms of hot flushes, sweating, insomnia, depression, anxiety, lack of concentration, joint pain, headache, palpitation, vaginal dryness and low libido. Most women only suffer from some of these symptoms so herbs can be selected to provided a tailored mix appropriate for each woman.
Dr Mark Porter, in The Times today, questions the effectiveness of herbal treatment but only refers to evidence about single herbs. Using combinations of herbs not only provides a gentle safe approach to treating symptoms of the menopause but also allows treatment to be tailored to the individual rather than the blanket approach of HRT.