Anti aging guide

Natural HRT and Conventional HRT in Treating Menopause



Treating menopause with natural HRT and conventional HRT

It is possible to use natural alternatives to HRT, for example natural progesterone or plant oestrogens. These should preferably be used under medical supervision and not taken together with conventional HRT.

Several women who have treated themselves with natural HRT, believing it to be safe, but who had disturbing side effects from it instead. These side effects are sometimes similar to those of conventional HRT:

  • a return of the menstrual flow, which can be very heavy and prolonged
  • worsening of fibroids in the womb
  • stomach upsets

There are, however, many benefits of using natural HRT. Natural progesterone helps reduce the effects of depression, menopause symptoms and osteoporosis (the bone-forming cells need progesterone to function properly). It also has an effect on memory and on libido.

The aim of the treatment is to replace as much progesterone as possible without suffering side effects. Progesterone regulates the actions of oestrogen and the two work together for optimum hormonal balance. Some natural progesterone creams include herbal extracts such as ginseng, black cohosh and vitamins for good measure.

Natural progesterone in cream form, once applied on the skin, is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. It is usually applied on the breasts, arms or face, abdomen or inner thighs.

This type of progesterone is usually obtained by a chemical reaction from the wild yam, although raw, unprocessed wild yam creams may not have strong effects. Yam extracts may not have the capacity to be transformed into actual progesterone by the body so it is preferable to use the ready-made progesterone cream.

Apart from natural progesterone, there are also natural oestrogens called phytoestrogens. These are plant chemical substances related to human oestrogens. Because phytoestrogens have a similar chemical structure to oestrogen hormone, they can bind to the oestrogen receptor on the cell membrane, and so stimulate the cell.

The following plants contain large amounts of phytoestrogens:

  • soy
  • chickpeas and beans
  • arrowroot
  • lentils
  • nuts and clover

Phytoestrogens not only reduce the symptoms of the menopause, but are also good antioxidants and anti-inflammatory factors. One particular group of phytoestrogens is the flavonoid group which contains thousands of different individual substances. The isoflavones are the largest group of flavonoids. They mimic the effects of oestrogen on the body and balance its effects. When there is too much oestrogen, flavonoids block the excess. When there is too little oestrogen, flavonoids raise the levels to normal. They are, in effect, a natural type of SERMs.

A promising benefit of the isoflavones is that they are methyl donors. During normal metabolism isoflavones create these chemicals which are then used for the repair of DNA. Loss of methyl groups by the DNA is considered to contribute to aging.

It is difficult to consume a diet which is high in isoflavones because the Western diet now contains only 10 per cent of isoflavones compared to our diet of 50 years ago. This is because we consume more fast food and more processed or genetically modified food. Japanese women consume 30 times more isoflavones than Western women and experience only very few menopausal symptoms.

Isoflavones can also lessen the risk of heart disease, reduce cholesterol and improve osteoporosis. In an Australian study, researchers using isoflavone supplements in menopausal women (aged around 50 found that they reduced hardening of the arteries down to what is normal for a 30 year old. Isoflavones help improve blood flow through the arteries, reducing abnormal clotting of the blood in the blood vessels. Some isoflavones also have a healing effect on the prostate.

For a diet high in isoflavones, choose seeds, pulses, grains, deep-coloured vegetables or red wine. Isoflavones are available in tablet, powder or grain-bar form.

Lignans are a chemical group of plant oestrogens with actions similar to soy oestrogens. These are found mainly in flax seed oil. Flax seed oil can be taken in capsules, or the oil can be added to food, but don’t use for frying, because the heat damages it.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - March 24, 2012 at 8:59 am