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13 Signs Of Menopause Plus 13 Helpful Herbs

13 Signs Of Menopause Plus 13 Helpful Herbs
Infographic © herbs-info.com. Image sources: see foot of page

Just like the start of menstruation during puberty, menopause is a normal part of every woman’s life. It’s the time when your menstrual period ends permanently and you are no longer able to bear children. [1] Some women feel relieved with this because it means that they no longer have to worry about unwanted pregnancy, but for most women, the onset of menopause is dreadful because of the stressful changes that it does to the body. [4]

How Do I Know If My Menopause Has Begun?

During the months of perimenopause, you might notice the following symptoms below leading to the last day of your menstruation. [2] However, take note that not everyone might experience the same symptoms due to different estrogen levels in the body.

#1 – Irregular Periods. This is one of the first and most direct changes that you will notice. Your period will usually become irregular, which means it could be longer or shorter and heavier or lighter.

#2 – Vaginal Dryness. Menopause may case vaginal dryness, a condition wherein the vagina’s natural lubrication is insufficient. This will make sexual intercourse feel uncomfortable.

#3 – Urinary Incontinence. This is the loss of bladder control, which will cause urine to leak whenever you cough, sneeze, or don’t make it to the toilet on time.

#4 – Sleep Problems. One of the signs of menopause that women also experience is having trouble getting sleep – it could be having trouble falling asleep or waking up too early.

#5 – Changes In Sex Drive. Going through a whole year without your period could spike up your interest in sex with the thought of not getting pregnant, or make you totally disinterested.

#6 – Mood Changes. During this time, you may also feel very irritable and moody, possibly due to stress and hormonal changes.

#7 – Hot Flashes. These are sudden feelings of heat in the body, followed by blotching, sweating, and shivering. Most hot flashes last from 10 to 30 minutes.

#8 – Night Sweats. Night sweats are similar to hot flashes, but happen during sleep and could be strong enough to wake you up.

#9 – Weight Gain. The hormonal changes brought by menopause may cause weight gain around your abdomen, thighs, and hips.

#10 – Thinning Hair. Since hormones are also responsible for growth and repair, the imbalance of estrogen during menopause may cause hair thinning.

#11 – Swollen And Tender Breasts. The swelling of the breasts are one of the first symptoms of menopause, which is also caused by changing estrogen levels.

#12 – Joint Pains. The joints are also affected by the fluctuation of estrogen levels in the body during menopause, causing pain in the shoulders, neck, jaws, and elbows. [5]

#13 – Memory Loss. Some women experience short-term memory loss during menopause due to declining estrogen levels and increasing stress.

What Herbal Remedies Can I Take?

Menopause is a natural biological process that every woman goes through. You may be able to make your journey through menopause a bit more comfortable by using these herbs as a remedy for your pain and discomfort. [3]

#1 – Green Tea. Drinking a hot cup of green tea may help relieve hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, and anxiety. Green tea can also help reduce stress and pain because of L-theanine, an amino acid that has anti-anxiety effects.

#2 – Valerian Root. As a phytoestrogenic plant (a chemical compound containing estrogen and is naturally-occurring in plants), Valerian root can help alleviate hot flashes, sleeplessness, and mental disorders. [6]

#3 – Black Cohosh. Made from the root of the black cohosh plant, it is used as a support formula to lessen the discomfort of menopausal women. It can also help prevent depression associated with menopause.

#4 – Soy. Adding soy to your daily diet during perimenopause can work wonders to relieve your muscle pain and other symptoms. Soy contains isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen, which can supplement estrogen loss in the body. [7]

#5 – Ginseng. Ginseng is thought to be able to help you get a good night’s sleep because of the saponins and ginsenosides which promote better sleep and combat stress, along with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

#6 – Wild Yam. When used as a topical cream, wild yam is considered beneficial for balancing hormones, regulating the menstrual cycle, and relieving ovarian and uterine pain.

#7 – Chasteberry. In addition to its numerous uses, chasteberry also relieves hot flashes, irregular cycles, and depression during menopause. It stimulates the pituitary gland so it can regulate the balance of estrogen and progesterone normally. [8]

#8 – Evening Primrose. A good source of the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), evening primrose can help relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweating. [9]

#9 – Flaxseed. It contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which helps modulate the hormone metabolism of the body. It also reduces hot flashes and vaginal dryness.

#10 – Dong Quai. The root of the dong quai plant is used for supplementing the decreasing levels of estrogen in the body, and can help lessen the frequency of menopausal symptoms.

#11 – Maca. This starchy tuber is also used as a remedy by women who experience hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms. It’s also known to improve libido and prevent depression.

#12 – Red Clover. Another phytoestrogenic plant, the red clover can reduce hot flashes and sleep disorders among menopausal women. With daily intake of its extract, this herb can stabilize your hormonal levels. [10]

#13 – St. John’s Wort. This herb is known to improve mood and prevent depression and anxiety during perimenopause, especially when combined with black cohosh. [11]

References:

[1] Menopause http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menopause

[2] Menopause https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/menopause

[3] Herbs for Menopause http://www.herbs-info.com/herbs-for-menopause.html

[4] Menopause http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/basics/definition/con-20019726

[5] Menopause Joint Pain, Menopause Arthritis http://menopausehealthmatters.com/symptoms-of-menopause/menopause-joint-pain/

[6] Mirabia, Parvaneh and Mojab, Faraz, The Effects of Valerian Root on Hot Flashes in Menopausal Women http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3813196/

[7] Soy for Menopause Symptoms – Topic Overview http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/soy-for-menopause-symptoms-topic-overview

[8] Godino, Jessica, VITEX Chasteberry: A supreme hormonal tonic for women http://www.susunweed.com/Article_Vitex_RedMoonHerbs.htm

[9] Evening Primrose Oil: Herb Used for Menopause Symptoms and PMS http://www.webmd.boots.com/vitamins-and-minerals/evening-primrose-oil

[10] Red Clover Eases Menopausal Discomfort http://sciencenordic.com/red-clover-eases-menopausal-discomfort

[11] St. John’s Wort http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/st-johns-wort

Infographic Image Sources:

Soy – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Soybeanvarieties.jpg
Dong Quai – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ginseng_in_Korea.jpg
Black Cohosh – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cimicifuga_racemosa_002.jpg
Green Tea – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tea_leaves_steeping_in_a_zhong_%C4%8Daj_05.jpg
Evening Primrose – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oenothera_rubricaulis_2014_G1.jpg
Valerian Root – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Valeriana_officinalis.jpg
Chasteberry – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vitex_agnus-castus_1.JPG
Mexican Wild Yam – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wild_yam_in_woods_-_young_plants.jpg

Research Shows This One Plant Kills Cancer And Stops Diabetes

Research Shows This One Plant Kills Cancer And Stops DiabetesPhoto – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0

Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia), also known as balsam pear, bitter gourd, or karela, is widely cultivated in many parts of Asia, Africa, and South America and has been used extensively used in folk medicines since old times as a herbal remedy for diabetes – specifically in India, China, and Central America. [1]

The fruit of the bitter melon vine is usually harvested while it is still light green to pale yellow in color, as it becomes bitterer as it ripens. The young fruits are then split or cut in half, and the seeds and pith taken out and discarded. The fruit is then prepared as a vegetable or as a juice and is packed with various nutrients including high levels of Vitamin C and some uniquely valuable phytonutrients.

In recent times bitter melon has generated much excitement owing to its medicinal potential. For several years now animal studies have supported the hypoglycemic (glucose lowering) and hypolipidemic (cholesterol lowering) effects of bitter melon – indicating its potential as a supplement beneficial for diabetes, weight loss and more. [2][3][4][5]

The fruit is said to be helpful in treating viral diseases such as measles. Also, in many parts of Asia, especially in the Philippines, it is believed that the consumption of bitter melon is helpful for preventing the contraction of malaria. Studies have shown that it does indeed possess antimalarial activity, although its efficacy on humans is still being analyzed. Aside from being used as an antiviral foodstuff, compounds in the bitter melon fruit have also been shown to help treat HIV infected individuals.

Bitter Melon As Anti-Cancer Agent

The literature regarding the anticancer properties of bitter melon is quite extensive. Bitter melon has now shown activity against cancers of the breast, pancreas, prostate, colon, liver, stomach and naso-pharynx, as well as leukemia and neuroblastoma. [6]

Bitter melon has been found to kill cancer cells not only in a laboratory dish, but also in animal trials: In a paper published in Carcinogenesis, University of Colorado researchers administered oral bitter melon doses to mice and found a 64% reduction in pancreatic tumor size without noticeable toxicity. [7] This is an amazing result and exactly the kind of selective action against cancer cells that researchers are looking for.

Breast cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer in women from Western countries. In a 2010 study from Saint Louis University (USA), bitter melon extract was effective against human breast cancer cells and primary human mammary epithelial cells. It was able to reduce the proliferation of cancer cells and induce cell death among breast cancer cells – and has been suggested as a dietary supplement for prevention of breast cancer. [8]

Bitter melon has been demonstrated to increase the number of natural killer (NK) cells, which is usually low or reduced in cervical cancer patients who have a defective immune system. [9] Its administration was also found to result in the arrest of the cell cycle among prostate cancer cells and halt the progress of prostate tumor. [10]

Bitter Melon extract is available in capsule form as a dietary supplement through the usual sources – including Amazon: Bitter Melon 500 mg 90 Vcaps By Best Naturals – Amazon.com

Bitter Melon – Safety Note:
Due to its reported abortifacient properties, the consumption of bitter melon is inadvisable for pregnant women, while the toxicity of its seeds (typically discarded from culinary use) indicates their extremely limited and controlled uses. Its employment for the treatment of children’s ills is discouraged, as the seeds are regarded as highly toxic to children.

Further reading: Bitter Melon is one of 60 plants investigated on our giant page 60 Anticancer Herbs. See also our full herbal report on Bitter Melon.

References:

[1] Grover JK, Yadav S, Vats V. Medicinal plants of India with anti-diabetic potential. J Ethnopharmacol 2002;81:81–100. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874102000594

[2] Jayasooriya AP, Sakono M, Yukizaki C, Kawano M, Yamamoto K, Fukuda N. Effects of Momordica charantia powder on serum glucose levels and various lipid parameters in rats fed with cholesterol-free and cholesterol-enriched diets. J Ethnopharmacol 2002;72:331–6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10967491

[3] Chao CY, Huang CJ. Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia) extract activates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors and upregulates the expression of the acyl CoA oxidase gene in H4IIEC3 hepatoma cells. J Biomed Sci 2003;10:782–91. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3311063/

[4] Chen Q, Chan LL, Li ET. Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) reduces adiposity, lowers serum insulin and normalizes glucose tolerance in rats fed a high fat diet. J Nutr 2003;133:1088–93. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/4/1088.long (Free full text)

[5] Nerurkar PV, Lee YK, Motosue M, Adeli K, Nerurkar VR. Momordica charantia (bitter melon) reduces plasma apolipoprotein B-100 and increases hepatic insulin receptor substrate and phosphoinositide-3 kinase interactions. British Journal of Nutrition 2008;100:751–9. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=2200760&fileId=S0007114508937430

[6] http://www.naturalnews.com/039583_bitter_melon_pancreatic_cancer_cytotoxicity.html

[7] Manjinder Kaur, Gagan Deep, Anil K. Jain, Komal Raina, Chapla Agarwal, Michael F. Wempe and Rajesh Agarwal. Bitter melon juice activates cellular energy sensor AMP-activated protein kinase causing apoptotic death of human pancreatic carcinoma cells University of Colorado, 2013. http://carcin.oxfordjournals.org/content/34/7/1585.long (free full text)

[8] Ray R.B., Raychoudhuri A., Steele R., & Nerurkar P. (2010). Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) extract inhibits breast cancer cell proliferation by modulating cell cycle regulatory genes and promotes apoptosis. Cancer Research, 70(5): 1925-1931. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3438. Full text: http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/70/5/1925.long

[9] Pongnikorn S., Fongmoon D., Kasinrerk W., & Limtrakul P. N. (2003). Effect of bitter melon (Momordica charantia Linn) on level and function of natural killer cells in cervical cancer patients with radiotherapy. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 86(1): 61-68. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12678140

[10] Ru P., Steele R., Nerurkar P. V., Phillips N., & Ray R. B. (2011). Bitter melon extract impairs prostate cancer cell-cycle progression and delays prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia in TRAMP model. Cancer Prevention Research (Phila), 4(12): 2122-2130. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21911444

12 Signs You Are Vitamin D Deficient (And How To Get More)

12 Signs You Are Vitamin D Deficientimage – EatLocalGrown.com

Here’s an interesting report from our friends over at Eat Local Grown listing 12 symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. Link follows after our additional comments.

Approximately 36% of healthy young adults and approximately 57% of inpatients in the United States and Europe suffer from vitamin D deficiency – that’s a staggering figure! Vitamin D is essential to strong bones and also to optimal muscle function. It has also been connected to reduced risk of death from heart failure, various cancers, hypertension and diabetes. Yes, it’s that important.

Many of the people who are vitamin D deficient do not even know. You can always request lab testing from your doctor and this is a very good thing to do. I recently had very thorough lab work which checked everything from my thyroid function to kidney function, vitamins and minerals – and it really helps not only isolate potential issues but can also sometimes catch life threatening illnesses early!

Although we are warned against sun overexposure, the best way to get enough vitamin D is through sun exposure. How much sun you need a day depends on many factors such as age, skin color, time of the day, season, and…. the use of sunscreen. Yes, if you put sunscreen on it blocks the vitamin D production. 10 to 15 minutes of natural sun per day is considered optimal. You can even spread this out so as to reduce risk of overexposure.

It’s interesting to note that in some cultures (for example China) it is considered fashionable and chic for women to be pale, not tanned. In China women go to great lengths to preserve their alabaster complexions.

Sunscreen is controversial, with some saying that it contains cancer-causing chemicals. You might also want to cheek our report on making your own natural sunscreen here: http://www.herbs-info.com/blog/how-to-make-your-own-sunscreen-using-natural-ingredients/

Aside from sunshine, the two other main sources of vitamin D are food and supplements. For those who – for whatever reason – wish not to expose their skin to the sun, vitamin D supplementation may be a good idea.

Ok here’s the link to the full list of 12 Signs You Are Vitamin D Deficient:

12 Signs You Are Vitamin D Deficient (And How To Get More)

If you are interested in learning about vitamin D rich foods we have a full, detailed report on that – check it out here: http://www.herbs-info.com/blog/vitamin-d-knowledge/