Your Non-HRT Shopping List

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If HRT isn’t for you, then there are plenty of non medical things to try, including the latest buzz product cannabis oil. They can’t claim HRT’s evidence-based results, but they might work for you and your symptoms*

Getting through the symptoms of menopause is not a one-size-fits-all situation. For every HRT advocate there’s a cannabis oil afficionado. Kevin Leivers, pharmacist and founder of The Naked Pharmacy urges caution when weighing up your options. “What works for one woman won’t necessarily for another,” he explains, “and you always need to check with your GP before taking any new non medical alternatives.”

Whilst HRT is, of course, medical evidence based, there are popular non HRT remedies that have anecdotal claims of helping with symptoms including hot flushes, sleep, energy deficiency and mood swings. So here, a few ideas to add to your non-HRT shopping list.

Whilst HRT is, of course, medical evidence based, there are popular non HRT remedies that have anecdotal claims of helping with symptoms.

Best for mood swings

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Three letters you’ve probably seen a lot lately, as this oil is the latest wellness craze. Available in oral tinctures and tablets, it’s a non-psychotomimetic (in other words, legal) compound from the cannabis plant. The talk in wellness circles is that it can act as a natural antidepressant. It’s not without controversy. “The EFSA (European Food Standard Agency) has recently ruled that products that contain CBD oil need to go through new robust safety tests, so literally everything could come off the shelves,” says Dr Sarah Brewer, a doctor and registered nutritionist. “I’m anticipating a much more measured response of selling what has already been created but quite possibly halting the creation of more.” We’ll all have to stay tuned.

St Johns Wort

A herbal remedy that has been used for 100s of years to treat mild and moderate depression, SAD, anxiety and sleep problems.

Saffron

Supplements can be effective for lifting low mood. Pharmacist Kevin Leivers suggests trying a daily dose of two capsules of Saffrosun, £19.95, thenakedpharmacy.com. “It’s not widely talked about yet but we’ve seen positive results from this,” he says.

Best for hot flushes

Black cohosh

Long used in Native American medicine, the dark, gnarled roots of the black cohosh herb are frequently used in supplements and remedies. During menopause, the pituitary gland (a pea-sized organ at the base of the brain) produces increased amounts of LH (luteinizing hormone), which is believed to be a cause of hot flushes. Black cohosh is thought to block production of this hormone.

Dong quai

A remedy from traditional Chinese medicine. The root of this plant is used as a cooling tincture, an extract, and as a tea.

French maritime pine bark extract

This extract is made up of plant-based hormones and organic chemicals called flavonoids thought to reduce hot flushes and other symptoms.

Best for night sweats

Ground flaxseed

Recommended at 40g per day, flaxseed contains lignin, a phytoestrogen which reduces the body’s core temperature. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8g of plant omega-3s – lignans, which have natural antioxidant qualities.

Taking a vitamin D supplement will help make your bones stronger.

Best for loss of bone density

Vitamin D

When your ovaries stop producing oestrogen, you’re in a higher risk category for developing osteoporosis because bone density diminishes. Taking a vitamin D supplement will help make your bones stronger. Always check and use the D3 version of vitamin D, which is better absorbed and more effective.

Best for oestrogen

Wild yam

A botanical that may mimic the effects of oestrogen on your body. You can buy a cream to apply topically, or take it in pill form.

Best for vaginal dryness

Soy products

As oestrogen levels fall during menopause, the vagina can become dry and the tissues lose their elasticity and strength. As the vaginal tissues become thinner they become more fragile and sensitive. Soy contains a plant-based oestrogen called isoflavones, so it can help you adjust to the smaller amounts of oestrogen that your body is now producing. Eat soybeans, edamame, tofu, and soy milk as these are the most direct ways to incorporate more soy in your diet. You can also try soybean extract.

*Risks and complications

Always check with your doctor and be aware of any potential interactions of herbal supplements before you try any remedy. Some may increase your risk of other health conditions or be potentially dangerous combined with other medications. If you try natural remedies for your perimenopause symptoms, try one at a time. Don’t overwhelm your body when it’s already adjusting to a new normal balance of hormones.

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