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10 Herbs for Menopause and How to Work Them Into Your Wellness Routine

Published on April 15, 2022


By Kristen Boye BS, Natural Health

Kristen Boye

Kristen Boye is a natural health expert, writer, copywriter, and editor. Kristen was raised on an organic farm in British Columbia which inspired her life’s work. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Health, is a Certified Natural Foods Chef, co-owner of a medicinal herb farm, and is a natural foods and children’s health advocate. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in Western North Carolina.

https://www.holisticwritingconcepts.com

With the hassles of menstruation behind you and the freedom of the golden years straight ahead, menopause should be an empowering time in a woman’s or person’s life. 

However, for millions of women, the symptoms of menopause like mood swings, hot flashes, and dips in libido can be challenging, frustrating, and disempowering.

Although several medical treatments are available for menopause, many women are turning to herbalism and traditional wellness practices as a sustainable way to alleviate their menopausal symptoms.

This article will explore botanicals and herbs for menopause, how they work, and their potential benefits. From Red Clover to Black Cohosh, this comprehensive herbal guide will help menopausal women and people easily navigate this transitional time and reclaim their best selves.

Symptoms of Menopause

Perimenopause is the transition before menopause and can begin anywhere from four to eight years before menopause. This stage in life happens to every woman due to naturally declining levels of reproductive hormones.

Menopause marks the end of the menstrual cycle and begins at your final period.REF#4105

There are also unnatural causes of menopause, such as surgery removing the ovaries, chemotherapy, and radiation. Whatever the reason, this hormonal change can cause physical and emotional challenges.

If you've gone 12 months or longer without a menstrual period and are between 45 and 55 years old (although the exact age varies), you may be experiencing menopause.

Signs of perimenopause or menopause include:REF#4106 REF#4107

  • Breast tenderness
  • Dry eyes, skin, or mouth
  • Hair loss or thinning
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Joint or muscle aches
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in libido
  • Changes in period flow
  • Chills
  • Discomfort during sex
  • Dry skin
  • Hot flashes
  • Irregular periods
  • Memory lapses
  • Night sweats
  • Problems sleeping
  • Slow metabolism
  • Thinning hair
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Weight gain

Symptoms vary widely from person to person and may be mild, moderate, severe, or even non-existent for some people. If you have concerns about symptoms, always check with your healthcare provider.

What Are the Benefits of Herbs for Menopause?

Herbal remedies have been used to support women and people for centuries at every stage of life. 

Regarding menopause, herbs offer a holistic approach to managing menopausal symptoms and provide additional benefits to improve various aspects of well-being and quality of life.

So, how do herbs work for menopause?

Many herbs contain phytoestrogens, plant compounds that can mimic the effects of estrogen in the body, helping with symptom relief and supporting sleep quality and mood.* 

They also include other beneficial compounds that may support hormonal function, adrenal function, sleep, bone function, and immune function.*

Is it Safe to Take Herbs for Menopause?

When used under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional and experienced herbalist, herbal remedies for menopause can be a safe and effective way to manage menopausal symptoms. With their long history of traditional use and growing scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness, herbs may help women navigate the transition of menopause.*

It's important to note that not all herbs are safe for everyone. Like any medication, herbal remedies can have potential risks and side effects, especially when misused or combined with other medicines.

Consult with a healthcare professional before using dietary supplements and herbal remedies for any ailment, particularly if you have a pre-existing health condition or are taking other medications. 

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid using certain herbs as they may adversely affect the fetus or infant.

10 Herbs for Menopause

Menopausal symptoms can range from annoying to severe, but the good news is these symptoms may be manageable. 

Studies and traditional use suggest the following herbs can help support hormonal and reproductive function, relieve vasomotor symptoms (VMS) like hot flashes, and keep you feeling your best during this transition.*

1. Black Cohosh

    Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) is native to the United States and is also known as Snakeroot, Bugbane, Fairy Candles, or Rattletop.

    Native American tribes traditionally used Black Cohosh to support the female reproductive system in addition to a healthy inflammatory response.*

    Black Cohosh is also used in the traditional herbal practices of Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, China, Spane, and other parts of Europe for menopausal complaints and other aspects of women’s health.

    Evidence points to Black Cohosh as a safe way to support your body through menopause symptoms, particularly hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. REF#4108

    Although Black Cohosh is generally considered safe for short-term use, it may cause side effects in some women, such as gastrointestinal upset, headaches, and dizziness.

    Learn more about Black Cohosh in: How Black Cohosh Benefits Menopause, PMS, Cramps, and Women’s Health.

    2. Mimosa

      Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) may be your favorite brunch drink, but it’s also a beautiful and unique plant with various benefits.* 

      Though it produces vibrant pink flowers and interesting fern-like leaves, its bark is most often used as a supplement.

      Known as “the tree of happiness”, this plant has a history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine to support a healthy stress response, sleep cycle, and emotional well-being.

      It’s also been used in other traditional medicine practices to support vaginal tone, bone function, and tone and for menstrual difficulties.REF#4109 REF#4110

      Mimosa also offers antioxidant support REF#4111 and promotes sleep and a feeling of calm, making it a very popular Traditional Chinese Medicine herb for menopause.

      3. Passionflower

        Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a unique and beautiful flower native to the United States that produces large, fleshy fruit. 

        Passionflower is considered a nervine in traditional herbalism, which is a group of herbs that supports nervous system function.

        The stem and leaves contain the highest number of beneficial phytochemicals, naturally occurring bioactive compounds found in plants that can provide health benefits to humans.

        Studies have shown passionflower may support calm and relaxation via its supportive effects on GABA production, a calming neurotransmitter.REF#4112 It’s also been shown to promote healthy sleep,REF#4113 which is why it’s a favorite among menopausal women.*

        Additional studies suggest Passionflower may also support normal blood pressure in humans, but more research is needed.

        4. St. John’s Wort

          Native to Europe, this lovely yellow flowering plant grows naturally throughout the world in common places, like roadsides and fields.

          St. John’s Wort has a long history, and writings by Gaius Plinius Secundas from ancient Greece reference St. John's Wort. Later, European peasants believed this plant helped protect them from evil spirits and the like.

          St. John’s Wort extract has been scientifically studied and found to support emotional well-being. REF#4114 REF#4115 REF#4116 Plus, the flowers offer antioxidant properties, making St. John’s Wort is a good choice for overall health and wellness.

          Regarding its use for menopausal women, research suggests St. John's Wort may support emotional well-being and feelings of calm during the menopausal transition.* 

          St. John's Wort can interact with certain medications. Those who take antidepressants should consult with a healthcare professional before using St. John's Wort to avoid adverse side effects.

          5. Alfalfa

            You might be familiar with Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) as hay for livestock. But it’s also nutritious for people, making it popular to consume as sprouts or in supplement form.

            One aspect that makes Alfalfa stand out from other plants is that its roots reach far down into the earth, giving it one of the highest mineral profiles of any land plant.

            As such a nutrient-rich plant, traditional herbalists used Alfalfa to support female hormone function.* 

            It contains antioxidants and is also believed to help support healthy hair, skin, and nail growth.*

            One study examined the effects of Sage and Alfalfa on menopausal women and noted that it effectively addressed menopausal challenges such as hot flashes.

            Other clinical trials concluded that Alfalfa (among many other herbs) effectively supports a woman’s body through common menopausal symptoms.* 

            6. Red Clover

              Similar to Alfalfa, Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) is a common plant grown as a nutritionally dense food for livestock.

              It has been traditionally used to support immune function and, of course, for women's health.*

              This herb contains flavonoids, which research suggests may help with hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause, though more research is needed.REF#4117

              7. Dong Quai

                Sometimes known as female Ginseng, Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) is a perennial plant native to China, Korea, and Japan. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various ailments, including menopausal symptoms and menstrual cramps. 

                Combined preparation of Dong Quai and other herbs may help alleviate discomfort due to hot flashes and night sweats.*

                Dong Quai may have potential benefits for women due to its estrogen-like activity, which could be helpful for women at risk for estrogen-based illnesses or medical conditions. 

                While Dong Quai is generally considered safe, it can interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and hormone therapies. 

                8. Evening Primrose Oil

                  Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis) is a plant native to North America used for centuries by indigenous peoples to support various aspects of health, including skin, gastrointestinal function, and respiratory function.

                  The oil extracted from its seeds is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that the body uses to produce prostaglandins.

                  Evening Primrose Oil is a popular supplement for menopausal women due to its potential to alleviate hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms.8 It may also help with breast tenderness, bloating, and irritability associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

                  While generally considered safe, Evening Primrose Oil can cause side effects such as upset stomach and headaches, particularly at high doses. 

                  Individuals taking blood thinners or seizure medications should also exercise caution when using Evening Primrose Oil. 

                  9. Ginseng

                    Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is a perennial plant native to Asia and is used in traditional Chinese medicine for various facets of health, including menopausal symptoms, and may reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes and night sweats. 

                    Studies also suggest Ginseng may also support cognitive function, mood, and overall quality of life in menopausal women. 

                    Ginseng can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, so check with your healthcare practitioner before taking Ginseng if you’re taking these medications.

                    Discover more in: A Complete Guide to Panax (Asian) Ginseng: History, Benefits, Studies, Side Effects, & More.

                    10. Soy

                      Sometimes referred to as the "soybean," Soy (Glycine max) is a plant native to East Asia that has become a popular dietary staple worldwide. 

                      Soy foods are rich in soy proteins, phytoestrogens, and isoflavones, which research suggests may support bone strength and muscle mass in menopausal women.

                      Soy may also affect weight loss and glucose metabolism.* It's important to note that soy may interact with certain medications.

                      Confused about whether soy is good for you? See: Is Soy Bad For You? Here's What The Science Says For all the latest details.

                      How to Use Herbs for Menopause

                      There are hundreds, if not thousands of herbal supplements for menopause, which can make selecting the right formula a challenge.

                      This is where working with an experienced herbalist or traditional/integrative health practitioner trained in herbalism for menopause can make all the difference.

                      Whether it be an acupuncturist, Ayurvedic practitioner, or functional medicine physician a skilled practitioner can recommend a custom herbal program with the most effective dosages to suit your needs.

                      For those who wish to try out some of the herbs mentioned today, here are some tips for choosing the highest-quality supplements:

                      • Look for supplements that use organic or wild-crafted herbs
                      • Make sure they test for contaminants (pesticides, mold, heavy metals), purity, and identity/authenticity
                      • Check that they follow cGMP manufacturing practices. cGMP stands for Current Good Manufacturing Practices, which the FDA enforces to ensure safety, quality, and consistency in manufacturing, testing, and procurement of raw materials.
                      • Look for products free from artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, sugar, or excipients
                      • Look for transparency in sourcing, like Gaia Herbs Meet Your Herbs Program, to avoid buying adulterated or unethically harvested herbs

                      High-quality herbs may cost a little more, but the investment in your health and safety is well worth it.

                      Thrive By Supporting Your Body Naturally During Menopause

                      Menopause brings significant changes. However, with herbs for menopause, you can support your body gently and naturally to maintain healthy hormonal function and get the rest you need and deserve to thrive.

                      Your body is resilient. Support its natural rhythms and changes, and you’ll be well on your way to a balanced, calm strength.*

                      REFERENCES:

                      • 1. , "Menopause 101: A primer for the perimenopausal.", The North American Menopause Society.
                      • 2. , "Perimenopause: Rocky road to menopause", Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School.
                      • 3. , "Menopause.", The Cleveland Clinic.
                      • 4. , "Ethnobotany, Phytochemistry, Traditional and Modern Uses of Actaea racemosa L. (Black cohosh): A Review", Adv Exp Med Biol.
                      • 5. , "Pharmacology and Traditional Uses of Mimosa pudica.", International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Research.
                      • 6. , "Analysis and recordings of orally transmitted knowledge about medicinal plants in the southern mountainous region of Korea.", J Ethnopharmacol.
                      • 7. , "Phenolic glycosides from the stem bark of Albizzia julibrissin.", Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo).
                      • 8. , "Modulation of the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system by Passiflora incarnata L", Phytother Res. 2011.
                      • 9. , "A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality.", Phytother Res. 2011.
                      • 10. , "A systematic review of St. John's wort for major depressive disorder.", Syst Rev. 2016 Sep 2;5(1):148. doi: 10.1186/s13643-016-0325-2.
                      • 11. , "St. John's Wort and Depression: In Depth.", NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
                      • 12. , "Advantages and Disadvantages of Using St. John's Wort as a Treatment for Depression.", Cureus. 2022.
                      • 13. , "Evaluation of Clinical Meaningfulness of Red Clover (Trifolium pratense L.) Extract to Relieve Hot Flushes and Menopausal Symptoms in Peri- and Post-Menopausal Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.", Nutrients.