My three favorite herbs to support and ease menopausal symptoms are:
RED CLOVER is an invaluable and potent estrogenic plant that also acts a mild diuretic. Red clover can be useful in reducing hot flashes, relieving insomnia, and improving mood. Red clover also appears to benefit the cardiovascular system. It has been shown to increase HDL (the good cholesterol), as well as relaxing arterial walls, thereby reducing the risk of high blood pressure.
CHASTEBERRY normalizes sex drive, may reduce hot flashes and help moisten dry vaginal tissues. This herb is also effective for the PMS-like symptoms of perimenopause: menstrual cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, acne, migraine headaches, and depression. Chasteberry can help regulate the menstrual cycle, which may become irregular at this time.
DONG QUAI is a Chinese herb also known as “angelica,” from its Latin name, Angelica sinensis. Traditionally, it’s been used to treat symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and thinning of vaginal tissue. Dong Quai helps moisturize, and improve vaginal lubrication, relieve aches and cramps, and restores vitality to the tissues. Another benefit of Dong quai is that it helps ease symptoms of depression. Caution: Dong Quai is not recommended for women who have bloating, menorrhagia, diarrhea, fibroids or those individuals using blood-thinning medications or aspirin.
Start with prepared, high-quality herbal products like whole herbs, herbal extracts and tinctures. Many acupuncturists also have a background in Chinese herbs as do Naturopathic doctors. I always recommend getting a personal referral from someone who has had a positive experience. Avoid taking any herbs or supplements if you are on medications or are struggling with complex health issues. Consult with a medical professional you trust and have a good relationship with for guidance.
Women and Stress
It’s true that anyone can experience stress, but women are at a higher risk for having more of it. Stress can come from many sources such as work, school, home life, parenting, health, finances, and so much more. Women are most likely to multi-task and be the bedrock of their family. I count myself in on being a multi-tasker. It’s nothing new for me to be running two loads of laundry while roasting a chicken in the oven. I used to do three things at once and now I’ve cut back to doing two things so that’s progress for me. It's been my observation that women in general have more responsibilities than their partners when it comes to family life, so it's not wonder we need a good self care routine. Many years ago, before I was married with a family of my own, I had a client with a demanding career, a husband and baby who used to say that she could use a wife. Not for any other reason other than to delegate someone else to take care of all the mundane chores and free up more time. I couldn't relate then when I was single, but I understand now!
You may think you know what it feels like to be stressed out, but many women only notice they are out of alignment when it starts to truly affect other areas of their life. Stress comes in many forms, and you may be experiencing it nearly every day without even realizing. By understanding the signs, you have a better chance at catching it early on and taking health supportive actions.
Several signs you may be under stress:
You wake up with headaches due to clenching your teeth or insomnia
You have frequent tension headaches
You’re unable to concentrate and find yourself being forgetful
You suffer from increased depression or anxiety
You have moderate to severe mood swings
You have difficulty making decisions
You find yourself smoking, drinking, or eating more than usual
You feel a sense of helplessness and overwhelm.
Complications and Side Effects
There are quite a few ways stress can affect you, both mentally and physically. This doesn’t even begin to cover the fact that stress can lead to problems at home, including finances, work, and with your family or friends. Aside from those complications, it also affects you emotionally and mentally. You might have heightened anxiety, more frequent panic attacks, and severe depression. Stress also increases the risk for many physical ailments, including headaches and migraines, muscle tension, digestive issues, high blood pressure, stroke, infections, backache, eating disorders, skin problems, bowel disorders, and many others.
What to do About it
As you can see, stress can do a number on your entire life. As soon as possible, look for healthy and productive ways to give yourself relief in the form of self-care. What will work for you might vary based on the source of stress. One day it could be writing in a journal, and the next taking a yoga class or going for a run. Choose healthy activities that take your mind off of your concerns, even if it’s just having tea with friends or watching a raunchy comedy with your family. Hearty laughter is one of life’s best forms of medicine. Make it a point to do it more often 😊