Monday, February 11, 2008

Herbs & Homeopathic Remedies May Alleviate Menopausal Symptoms

Does hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for your menopause make your blood run cold? Many women are faced with the potential risks associated with HRT. First, let’s take a quick look at the three stages of menopause.

Menopause begins in your early 40s as your ovaries gradually produce less and less of the hormone estrogen. Your periods become erratic sometimes skipping a month or alternating between light and heavy.

The next period of time is the transitioning to actual menopause. During this time you may continue to have erratic periods and the “fun stuff” begins to settle in for a long visit. Yes, fun stuff like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings and insomnia are some of the symptoms.
The final and actual onset of menopause usually occurs in your early 50s and is represented by the absence of your period for a full 12 months. It’s those in between years that can wreak havoc in your life.

Are there natural alternatives for chemical HRT? The good news is yes! It’s a sad fact that less than two percent of doctors even mention alternative therapies and that most of them feel there is no benefit. Thousands of women would disagree. Here are just a few of the many natural alternatives:

Try adjusting your diet to include vegetables and fish that are high in Omega-3 as they contain nutrients that can help your body deal with menopause naturally. Conversely, there are foods that can make your menopausal symptoms worse. Caffeine, sugar, fatty dairy products, salt, alcohol and saturated oils can aggravate the symptoms.

Be sure and take a daily multivitamin making certain that the vitamin contains 100% of the daily allowance for nutrients. Just be aware that vitamins are no substitute for following a healthy diet.

If menopause causes mood swings, it only makes sense that it’s possible to experience extreme responses for stress. Try using deep breathing techniques, meditation or some other methods of relaxation that works for you and practice the technique for 10 to 20 minutes per day. You will be left feeling calmer, more able to cope and more in control.

Exercising regularly can also help alleviate menopausal symptoms. Scheduling at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week will relieve hot flashes. You will be able to think more clearly and reduce your risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.

Some women have found relief through yoga and acupressure. Both are mainstays of practitioners of eastern medicine.

Last, but not least, we come to herbal treatments. Beans and certain other plants have a mild estrogenic activity in their makeup thanks to "phytoestrogens." These are compounds that include isoflavins, lignans, phytoseterols and saponins. In additional to helping your body through menopause, animal experiments show they are significantly effective in preventing tumors of the breast tissue.

Without sending you off for a medical dictionary to understand the compounds listed above, here are some of the foods and herbs that contain healthy compounds: Soy, black cohosh, licorice, alfalfa, chasteberry, Chinese angelica, red clover, strawberry, celery stalks, dates, elder, false unicorn root, fennel, Honduran sarsaparilla, lady’s slipper, liferoot, Mexican wild yams, passion flower, pomegranates and sassafras.

The foods, of course, are available from your local grocery. Visit your local health food store where you should be able to find the herbs and methods to include them in your daily diet.

Easing Arthritis Pain with Glucosamine & Chondroitin Supplements

If you suffer from arthritis pain, chances are you’ve heard of a relatively new over-the-counter remedy called Glucosamine. But what is Glucosamine, and how does it work to relieve arthritis? In this article, I’ll introduce you to this new treatment and provide you with the pros and cons of its use. By the time you’ve finished reading this article, you’ll be able to make an informed decision on whether or not Glucosamine is right for you.

What is Glucosamine? Glucosamine, together with a related ingredient called Chondroitin, are substances which exist naturally in your body. It is believed that glucosamine helps to build and repair cartilage (the soft, spongy material between your joints), while chondroitin lends to the elasticity and flexibility of joints. A deficiency of either one can lead to increased wear and tear on the joint, and cause redness, swelling and stiffness as a result. When used together, glucosamine and chondroitin act as a tag-team of arthritis fighters, improving flexibility, soothing inflammation and reducing swelling caused by achy joints.

Where Can I Buy Glucosamine and Chondroitin Supplements? You can find these products in virtually any pharmacy or health goods store. The downside to this is, like other herbal and alternative medicines, supplements are not regulated by any governing body. That’s why you’ll need to do a little bit of research to find the best, most potent brand for your needs. Here’s what you need to know when comparison shopping for a glucosamine supplement:

· You should expect to pay anywhere from $1-3 per pill when taking glucosamine daily. Since insurance companies rarely cover supplements of any kind, you’ll most likely be paying for them out of pocket.

· Read the ingredients label on the bottle to determine the dosage. Approximately 1500mg of glucosamine and 1200mg of chondroitin have been safely used in clinical trials. Depending on your individual medication tolerances and the severity of your arthritis, you should consult your physician or rheumatologist to find the right dose for your individual needs.

· Select supplements manufactured by a well-known, reputable company. Recommended brands include: Osteo Bi-Flex, WholeHealth, Flex-A-Min, MoveFree and individual pharmacy brands.

Are There Any Side Effects I Should Know About? As with any medication or supplements, there are a few warnings you should know:

· If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, do not use glucosamine/chondroitin supplements, as no long-term studies have been done to gage what materials (if any) are passed on to the baby either internally or through breast milk.

· If you are diabetic, chondroitin (a form of sugar) may cause your blood sugar to rise.

· Chondroitin also acts as a mild blood thinner. Therefore, if you are taking any heart medication or are taking an aspirin regimen, have your blood clotting time checked more frequently by your doctor.

· Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplements should not be taken by children since no studies have been done to determine their effect (if any) on the child’s development.

(Please note: The information contained within this article is not intended to replace or substitute for that of an experienced physician. Remember to check with your doctor or rheumatologist before starting daily glucosamine/chondroitin supplements, and don’t stop or reduce any of your current medications (whether they’re for arthritis or not) without first talking with your doctor).