Many women experience symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and changes in metabolism during menopause.
Some natural remedies and lifestyle changes may reduce these symptoms and help you feel more comfortable. There’s also evidence that changing your diet can help with symptoms.
At ZOE, we run the largest study of nutrition and menopause in the world. Our research shows that the way women respond to food changes through menopause.
Read on to learn more about dietary changes, herbal supplements, and other natural remedies that could help with your menopause symptoms.
Symptoms of menopause
The transition into menopause is known as perimenopause. During this time, your ovaries start to make less of the reproductive hormone estrogen.
Estrogen plays a role in many different functions throughout your body, and as levels decrease, many women have uncomfortable side effects.
Everyone experiences menopause differently, but common symptoms include:
hot flashes and night sweats
painful sex or lower sex drive
changes to body composition
Personalized nutrition during menopause
Our research program, with over 15,000 participants so far, shows that the best foods for your body are unique to you and your metabolism.
During menopause, a woman’s metabolism changes significantly. One of our studies found that blood sugar, blood fat, and insulin responses after eating were much higher in women after menopause.
Big spikes and dips in blood sugar can lead to tiredness and, in the long term, an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. Higher levels of blood fat are also an indicator of a higher risk of heart disease.
The foods that work well for your body can change during menopause.
Our personalized nutrition program is based on your unique responses to food, which we measure using the latest technology and our cutting edge science.
With the ZOE program, you can find the best foods for your body and your metabolism.
12 natural remedies for menopause
There is scientific evidence that changing what you eat can help improve common menopause symptoms, although many studies only involve a small number of participants.
Research also suggests that a number of supplements and natural remedies may help with menopause symptoms, but it’s worth being aware that the evidence for most of these is not strong at the moment, and that more research is needed.
Before taking supplements, talk with your doctor to discuss the possible risks and benefits.
1. Focus on plants
This may be partly because many plants contain phytoestrogens, compounds that can simulate some of the functions of estrogen in your body.
Plants also contain lots of fiber, and some studies suggest a high-fiber diet may be associated with a lower risk of depression for women during perimenopause.
Eating a wide variety of plants has also been shown to have general health benefits for women who’ve been through menopause.
2. Include healthy proteins
It’s important to get enough protein during all stages of life. Research involving women after menopause found that those who ate more protein had less body fat and performed better in physical tests than those on low protein diets.
Good sources of protein include nuts and seeds, beans, legumes, dairy, tofu, fish, and lean meat.
3. Drink more water
Estrogen plays an important role in maintaining your body’s water levels. As estrogen decreases, you may become less sensitive to thirst, which could increase your risk of dehydration.
To avoid this, try to drink about 6 to 8 cups of water per day.
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In fact, one found that licorice was as effective as hormone replacement therapy in reducing the length of hot flashes in women who had been through menopause.
Although current evidence is encouraging, researchers recommend additional studies to confirm the findings.
It’s also important to note that consuming large amounts of licorice could result in negative side effects, such as raising your blood pressure and lowering the amount of potassium in your blood.
Talk to your doctor before taking licorice root for your menopause symptoms.
Anise has effects in your body similar to estrogen and may be able to help with the length and severity of hot flashes.
One study involved 72 women who had been through menopause. Some participants took anise capsules three times a day and others took a placebo.
After 4 weeks, those who had taken the anise reported significantly less frequent, and less severe, hot flashes. However, this is another area where more research is needed.
One study found that taking fennel improved mental health ratings for women with anxiety and depression who had been through menopause. However, the study was quite small and not all participants saw significant improvements, so more investigation is needed.
Other studies suggest that vaginal creams containing fennel may help with vaginal atrophy. This is the term for the thinning and drying of the vaginal walls, which is a common concern for women during perimenopause or after menopause.
7. Pollen extract
There’s evidence that the herbal remedy made from a pollen extract may help reduce hot flashes in women who have been through menopause.
One study involving 54 women found that those who took two pollen extract tablets each morning over a 3-month period reported a significantly greater reduction in hot flashes than those who didn’t.
8. Black cohosh
Black cohosh is a flowering plant native to North America, which you can buy as a food supplement. It’s been widely studied for its potential to help with hot flashes, depression, and other menopause symptoms.
Some people also report negative side effects of taking black cohosh, such as gut discomfort, rash, and acute hepatitis.
Some studies suggest that the ginseng root may be beneficial for improving sex drive, frequency of hot flashes, and symptoms of depression in women who have been through menopause.
However, only a few high-quality studies have looked at these links, so more research is needed.
Ginseng may interact with other medications and herbs, so it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking ginseng supplements.
10. Maca root
There is a small amount of research into maca root’s potential impact on sex drive.
One study involved women who had been through menopause and who were taking anti-depressants. It found that those who also took maca root reported increased sex drive and better sexual experiences.
Given the limited number of studies and a lack of clear-cut safety information, further research is needed.
11. Wild yams
In one study, 23 women who had been through menopause used wild yam cream, which had little effect on their symptoms.
A more recent study suggested that a protein found in wild purple yams could improve menopause symptoms by raising estrogen levels.
However, this study was done in rats, so further research is needed to address how safe and effective this natural remedy is for women during perimenopause.
Other mindfulness and relaxation techniques, like yoga, aromatherapy, and acupuncture, are popular approaches for menopause symptoms, too. However, the evidence for these therapies is not strong.
Other changes to help with menopause
If you’re looking to improve menopause symptoms and your overall health, other lifestyle changes may also help.
Try to get better sleep. High quality sleep and an earlier bedtime could help improve your metabolic health as you age.
Quit smoking. Stopping smoking may reduce your risk of hot flashes, and make them less severe and less frequent.
Menopause is a natural period of transition for women but often comes with symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and other changes.
Improving your diet may help with your menopause symptoms, and it can improve your overall health.
Focus on eating more plants — including those that contain phytoestrogens — getting enough protein, and drinking enough water.
Although a lot of the evidence is currently inconclusive, certain herbal remedies including licorice, anise, pollen extract, and fennel, may also help.
Exercising more and getting better quality sleep may help, and if you smoke, look for help to quit.
Take our free quiz to learn which foods are best for you at your current life stage.
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