Menopause is defined as occurring 12 months after the last menstrual period, and is the permanent end of menstruation and fertility. The ovaries produce much less estrogen and no progesterone, and they do not release eggs. That normally happens between the ages of 45 and 55.
Women are supplied with estrogen from their ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells. Once a woman reaches menopause, adrenal glands and fat cells become the main sources of estrogen. Adrenal glands are small triangular glands located on top of both kidneys. One of their functions is to produce sex hormones such as estrogen and stress hormones such as adrenaline. Maintaining the health of adrenal glands supports both hormonal activity and the body's ability to cope with stress. However, today's poor eating habits and stressful lifestyles mean that many women reach their menopausal years with worn-out adrenal glands. Symptoms of adrenal stress are similar to menopausal symptoms - nervous tension, depression, irritability, fatigue and unpredictable mood swings. Adaptogenic herbs such as licorice improve the body's response to stress, and help to extend the activity of adrenal hormones in the body.
There is an increased risk of some diseases after menopause.
Estrogen appears to naturally protect women from heart disease, presumably by promoting a favorable plasma lipid profile and healthy circulation. When estrogen levels decline, risk of cardiovascular disease increases.
Estrogen plays an important role in bone health by decreasing the rate of bone breakdown by osteoclasts. As estrogen levels decline, bones are broken down faster than they can be renewed. Bones become brittle and weak, leading to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures. Postmenopausal women are especially vulnerable to fractures of hip, wrist and spine.
Eat more calcium-rich plant foods such as sage. Strength training and weight-bearing activities, such as walking and jogging, are especially beneficial in keeping bones strong.
According to the American Cancer Society, using combined hormone therapy after menopause increases risk of breast cancer. It may also increase the chances of dying from breast cancer. This increase in risk can be seen within as little as 2 years of use.
(Reference: The Natural Herbal Support for Women's Health)
has neuroprotective effects on memory impairment-related neurodegenerative diseases. It appears to have a strong ability to lower high blood pressure, a serious risk factor for heart disease.
helps to reduce hot flashes and night sweats. Sage's high levels of potassium and magnesium can help replenish minerals that the body loses in perspiration after hot flashes. Phytoestrogen in sage include genistein, daidzein and formononetin. They are helpful for menopausal symptoms caused by low estrogen levels. Menopausal women are 50% less efficient than adolescents in absorbing calcium. This may lead to bone loss. Hence it is important to consume plant foods such as sage for calcium and vitamin K to build bones. Sage has immunity-boosting qualities. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
helps to maintain hormonal balance, and relieve hot flashes and other effects of hormonal imbalance. Raspberry also relaxes and lubricate the uterus, and relieves dryness of the vaginal tract during menopause. Raspberries have around 50% higher antioxidant activity than strawberries and ten times the antioxidant activity of tomatoes. Raspberry is also useful for diarrhea and constipation. Its anthocyanins' anti-microbial properties help to prevent overgrowth of bacteria and fungi in the body. Raspberry extract has been found to suppress cervical cancer cell production.
contains both phytoestrogens that help to restore hormonal balance and heart-protective terpenoids. Terpenoids have antioxidant properties and can help to improve blood flow by dilating blood vessels and reducing platelet stickiness. Ginkgo can ease memory lapses during menopause by improving blood flow to the brain. Ginkgo is helpful for perimenopausal effects of fatigue, depression, and memory problems, and postmenopausal visual or cognitive difficulties.
Stress can worsen menopausal symptoms. As an adaptogen, licorice improves the body's response to stress. Post-menopause, adrenal glands continue to be a source of estrogen precursors. Licorice enables adrenally produced hormones to work for longer periods. It reduces symptoms of perimenopause caused by high levels of estrogen. Licorice raises progesterone levels by stopping progesterone from breaking down. This leaves more of it available to body cells. Flavonoids are phytochemicals with antioxidant activity to help fight free radical damage, which is liked to signs of aging. Licorice root is a rich source of flavonoids, such as glabridin and glabrene. Licorice root stimulates production of interferon, an important chemical in the immune system.