Black Cohosh, Sage and Red clover are well known to help women through the menopause, and rightly so. They make a huge difference to the hot flushes and sweats, but there are other effects on our bodies which are not so commonly spoken of and I would like to write about them here.
It is not really the sort of thing we talk about, but loss of sexual interest in our partners is a very common symptom of the menopause, and the loss of intimacy can be a source of sadness to both parties. Epimedium sagittatum (Horny Goat Weed – the name says it all!) is famous for its beneficial effects on men through alleviating erectile dysfunction and as a testosterone booster, but it is little known as a herb for women. Epimedium is a tonic herb, containing a flavonoid called icariin, which has sexual boosting effects in both men and women. More than that, it also perks us up by reducing fatigue, and by dilating the cerebral blood vessels it helps our brain function and memory. Traditional Chinese doctors say that it “reinforces bone”. Indeed, there are several studies which demonstrate that this plant halts the loss of bone density in menopausal women through its ability to support oestrogen levels and reduce the breakdown of bone tissue(1), and at the same time it also relieves joint pain.
There is a class of herbs known as Nootropics which enhance memory, creativity and motivation. Bacopa monnieri is known to the Ayurvedic doctors as a “wisdom herb”. This wonderful herb helps to support the memory problems that so many of us suffer from after a certain age. Studies show how it protects the brain through anti-oxidant action, by improving blood flow to the brain, reducing amyloid plaques (associated with Alzheimer’s disease), reducing inflammation of the brain and modulating neurotransmitters.(2) Because of all of these amazing actions on our central nervous system, it is being studied for its possibilities in treating dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.(3) I use it almost every day for people suffering from poor memory, brain-fog and over-thinking or anxiety.
Closer to home, our humble Sage (Salvia officinalis) is being discovered as a brain enhancing herb which protects against dementia and Alzehimer’s.(4) Since it is well established as a herb which reduces the hot flushes and in particular, the menopausal sweats, this is a marvellous herb to include in our defence against time!
There are many herbs which can be used to make the menopause an easy and even joyful experience. Each person should have an individualised prescription made for her, so that it suits her particular size, weight, medications and most importantly – her particular requirements.
(1)^ Anti-osteoporosis effect of Epimedium via an estrogen-like mechanism based on a system-level approach. Feifei Xu, Yan. Ding, Yingying Guo, Baoyue Liu, Zinong Kou, Wei Xiao, Jingbo Zhu. Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 177, 11 January 2016, Pages 148-160. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2015.11.007
(2)^ Neuroprotective effect of Bacopa monnieri on beta-amyloid-induced cell death in primary cortical culture. Nanteetip Limpeanchob, Somkiet Jaipan, Saisunee Rattanakaruna, Watoo Phrompittayarat, Kornkanok Ingkaninan. Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 120, Issue 1, 30 October 2008, Pages 112-117. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.07.039
(3)^ Anti-Parkinsonian effects of Bacopa monnieri: Insights from transgenic and pharmacological Caenorhabditis elegans models of Parkinson’s disease. Pooja Jadiya, Asif Khan, Shreesh Raj Sammi, Supinder Kaur, Snober S. Mir, Aamir Nazir. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications Volume 413, Issue 4, 7 October 2011, Pages 605-610. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.09.010