Menopause comes with its share of side effects, find out what plants can do to help you overcome the discomforts.
Menopause is a natural biological process in a woman’s life which usually occurs at 45 to 55 years of age. According to medicine, menopause is defined when a woman doesn’t menstruate anymore and are at the end of their reproductive cycle. Menopause is not a disease and women remain healthy, can be sexually active, and have plenty of vitality.
Some women live this transition as a relief, but even though this is a perfectly natural change in a woman’s life, many women experience it negatively, because of the physical and psychological challenges caused by the transition towards the full onset of menopause.
This perimenopause phase – wrongly called “pre-menopause”, last between 2 to 7 years, and is marked with the slow drop of hormones, irregular menstruations and other side effects such as hot flushes, irritability, mood swings, a decrease in libido and weight gain… These disturbances can be very uncomfortable and may have an impact on the quality of sleep, leading to fatigue.
Many women turn to the solution to Hormone Replacement Therapy, prescribed by a medical doctor, to tackle their perimenopause and menopause transition and the side effects they may experience with it. These treatments have been found to have their share of side effects such as heart disease or memory loss.
Hope is not lost, as soja and hops combined together could be the alternative and natural solution you are looking for to bring relief and comfort, without the downsides of HRT.
Two natural ingredients that will help you go through menopause discomforts
Soja, originating from south-east Asia, where it has been part of food habits for thousands of years and been used in traditional medicine. Soja has proven properties to support women undergoing menopause.
A study revealed that 80% of European women were having perimenopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, mood swings and sleep disturbances, while only 5 to 10% of Japanese women, who regularly consume soja, were affected.
Soja contains Isoflavones, shown to be very effective for hot flushes, but also support weight loss when it is directly associated with menopause.
Few studies have also demonstrated the benefits of soja isoflavones on osteoporosis, a condition that can affect women within the first 5 years of menopause, with a loss of 3 to 5% yearly of their bone density.
Hops is a climbing herbaceous plant that grows in the wild, mostly used to make beer.
Health authorities recognise its sedative properties, as well as its benefits for digestion and to treat irritability.
But, Hops is mostly a powerful phytoestrogen to fight against the various disorders of perimenopause. Back when picking hops were done by hand, the pickers were unexpectedly indisposed even if it was not normally the time of their periods. Based on these findings, researchers at Ghent University have isolated one of these active ingredients, the hopeine or 8PN2 , a derivative of the flavonoid family. It produces effects on the body similar to those sex hormones estrogenic 3 .
The hopeine, rebalancing the oestrogen levels in the body, acts effectively against hot flushes, stimulates libido and helps with sleep, thanks to its sedative and hypnotic properties.
Anecdotally, workers in breweries sometimes suffered from uncontrollable urges to sleep. The researchers realised that the hop was on the neurotransmitter GABA, which regulates the central nervous system5. In this way, it also limits anxieties.
To increase its effectiveness, it was found that hops work best combined with the powerful phytoestrogen soy extract as they have a synergistic action.
Menopause isn’t surely the easier transition in a woman’s life and acceptance comes with its challenges. Finding the right support is very important. Natural solutions to tackle the symptoms associated with the hormonal changes can be a great help but if you feel depressed and suffer from anxiety, it is also important to find support by talking to your friends or family, seeking counselling or professional advice. Know that this is not the end of the road and that this transition may bring upon the opportunity to experience the new in your life. Spend more time with your partner, find new hobbies or activities that you always wanted to do, travel…
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Milligan SR1, Kalita JC, Heyerick A, Rong H, De Cooman L, De Keukeleire D. Identification of a potent phytoestrogen in hops (Humulus lupulus L.) and beer. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Jun;84(6):2249-52
Rong H, Boterberg T, Maubach J, Stove C, Depypere H, Van Slambrouck S, Serreyn R, De Keukeleire D, Mareel M, Bracke M. 8-Prenylnaringenin, the phytoestrogen in hops and beer, upregulates the function of the E-cadherin/catenin complex in human mammary carcinoma cells. Eur J Cell Biol. 2001 Sep;80(9):580-5