Menopausal women may experience symptoms ranging from hot flashes and low sex drive to insomnia and night sweats. For decades, women have been prescribed long-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT) consisting of horse-derived hormones estrogen and progestin for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. However, large studies such as the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) have linked HRT with increased breast cancer risk and other significant adverse effects.
Women have been searching for alternatives to HRT to manage menopause symptoms. Now research reports the following alternative therapies can help relieve menopausal symptoms.
Yoga Relieves Menopause
A 2011 prospective, controlled, randomized and interventional study, published in Menopause International, found yoga can effectively relieve menopausal symptoms. All the participants were not on hormone therapy.
Researchers at NKP Salve Institute of Medical Sciences and Lata Mangeshkar Hospital, in India, assigned 180 menopausal women to a yoga group or no treatment (control) group for three months. Menopause Rating Scale (MRS) questionnaires evaluating menopause symptoms and health-related quality of life were obtained from the participants on the first and last days of the study.
The yoga group participated in daily one-hour yoga practice for three months. The yoga program included yoga poses, yoga breathing and meditation.
The researchers found that MRS scores were similar in both groups on day 1. By day 90 MRS scores showed the yoga group had significant improvement in menopausal symptoms, and no changes in the control group.
"Yoga is effective in reducing menopausal symptoms," the study authors conclude. It "should be considered as alternative therapy for the management of menopausal symptoms."
Maca Menopause Remedy
The Peruvian plant maca (Lepidium meyenii) was used by the ancient Incans to promote libido and improve stamina.
A study, published in the International Journal of Biomedical Science, reports maca can help relieve menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, low sex drive and night sweats.
Australian and Polish researchers administered 2,000 mg organic maca or a placebo daily to 124 postmenopausal women with low estrogen and high follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels for four months. Greene's Score (GMS) and Kupperman's Index (KMI) measurements of menopausal symptoms were obtained from the participants after one, three and six months. Lipid profile and hormone levels were also obtained from the participants.
The researchers found that maca group had significant improvement in menopausal symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats. Furthermore, FSH levels were lowered while estradiol and "good" HDL cholesterol levels were increased. The placebo group had no significant changes.
Natural Hormone Help
Bioidentical or natural hormones are the chemical equivalent to those produced naturally by humans. Bioidentical hormones are typically produced from plant sources (such as soybeans and yams) or can be synthetically derived.
A review, published in Alternative Medicine Review, reveals bioidentical hormones can relieve menopausal symptoms and may have less negative side effects than hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, longer term human studies are needed to determine if bioidentical hormones are completely risk free.
The researcher reviewed 138 published studies on bioidentical hormones and hormone replacement therapy. "The use of bioidentical hormone therapy is well tolerated, provides symptom relief, and can address many of the health needs as well as the individual preferences of menopausal and perimenopausal women," the study author writes. "Physicians are encouraged to take the time and effort to help women determine the regimen that best suits their needs, including testing hormone levels directly prior to supplementation and using the least amount necessary to achieve the desired results."
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