We talk with many women who are choosing natural alternatives in many areas of their lives, but are still unsure about using them to relieve perimenopause and menopause symptoms. After all, they wonder if “natural” is supposed to be gentler — how can it be powerful enough to relieve symptoms like fuzzy thinking, hot flashes or insomnia?

Let us assure you, the natural approach is highly effective — even for women suffering from severe symptoms.

What’s more, the natural approach works in a completely different way than many conventional medical solutions like prescription drugs. Because it works with your body, a natural solution can actually prevent or reduce the severity of nearly all of your symptoms rather than just smoothing them over temporarily!

Steps for menopause relief:

5 steps for symptom relief Nip your symptoms in the bud with optimal nutrition

5 steps for symptom relief Use herbal remedies that act like your own hormones.

5 steps for symptom relief Exercise to reduce fat that can upset your estrogen and progesterone ratios.

5 steps for symptom relief Restore yourself to decrease the stress that intensifies symptoms.

5 steps for symptom relief Understand how emotional health plays a vital role in your overall physical health.

For a comprehensive, natural approach to menopause relief try our Hormonal Health Package.

A true natural approach addresses symptoms at the source

If you’re suffering from perimenopause and menopause symptoms, taking natural steps toward relief will help resolve the root of symptoms by addressing imbalances between the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. In addition, natural options don’t have the added risk of side effects carried by commonly prescribed medications like antidepressants.

You can try the steps below in any order that fits you because it’s essential to make the natural approach work for you and the way you live:

1. Nip your symptoms in the bud with optimal nutrition.

Your food choices are the most effective (and enjoyable!) medicine that exists. Eat a balance of good fats, complex carbohydrates and protein, and make sure to have plenty of fruits and vegetables at every meal (even breakfast). Also, try your best to eat three meals a day and two or more snacks to keep your blood sugar stable.

Optimal nutrition also includes getting enough vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. Even with a healthy diet, many women find they need a nutrient boost, especially if they feel too busy to get enough of certain vitamins every day. For example, it’s hard for many women to eat enough of the foods that will allow them to take in and absorb adequate folate — a key B vitamin. However, you can accomplish this by supplementing with Quatrefolic® (5-MTHF, or l-methylfolate) the biologically active form of folate that’s easier for your body to process and use.

2. Use herbal remedies that act like our own hormones.

In our experience, women are often not aware of the amazing strength that plants and herbal remedies have to prevent symptoms. In many cases, their power comes from an adaptogenic effect: certain plants and herbs can adapt to the needs of your body. They can do this because they share certain molecular features with our own hormones, allowing them to encourage hormone production, slow it down, or even mimic what our own hormones do depending on the body’s unique needs.

Specific herbal options for menopause symptoms include black cohosh, passionflower, chasteberry, wild yam and ashwagandha, all of which are found in our exclusive Herbal Equilibrium formula, part of our Hormonal Health Package.

3. Exercise to reduce the fat that can upset your estrogen and progesterone ratios.

During perimenopause and menopause, women tell me that it feels as if they’re gaining weight at a steady pace. It settles in unusual places and the scale refuses to budge. One reason that weight issues are so common is because fluctuating estrogen levels may be causing your body to hold on to fat. And unfortunately, fat actually produces estrogen, which can create even more fat.

Whether it’s walking, dancing, yoga, swimming, biking —moving your body has a major impact on your weight, other menopause symptoms and your overall health. Gentle exercise is helpful too, especially if your adrenal glands are overworked and you constantly feel fatigued. The most important thing? Do what you love!

4. Restore yourself to decrease the stress that’s known to intensify symptoms.

Antidepressants are often prescribed for women with perimenopause and menopause symptoms who report feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, and depressed during the menopause transition. I see this frequently but in most cases, antidepressants are not the best answer for menopause symptom relief.

Stress can actually be behind additional imbalances in hormones and neurotransmitters that affect mood as well as mental function. Too much stress is also linked to symptoms such as hot flashes and low libido.

All this stress makes nurturing self-care especially important. One of the most effective, easy and cost-free ways I find to reduce stress is deep breathing.

5. Understand how emotional wellness plays a vital role in your overall physical health.

Thoughts and feelings have a dramatic impact on your health, so why not make it a positive effect? We suggest you keep a diary to help you become aware of what you are feeling and to identify any patterns in either your feelings or reactions. This process can help with your individual emotional health, or any work that you choose to do with a friend, family member, or trusted third party, like a therapist. We've also found it helpful, especially with all the negatively out there today, to start the day with a positive affirmation.

Find the natural and powerful combination that works best for you

For many women, perimenopause and menopause offer an amazing opportunity for us to grow as individuals, and they may even discover that it’s a better time than they’ve been led to believe it will be.

We’ve always found that when women make natural adjustments to their lifestyles, not only do they feel much better but also in control of their menopause symptoms — rather than the other way around. We encourage you to start making small changes that can create some impressive results, such as adding a morning veggie smoothie, setting aside some time each day for deep breathing and taking supplements to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients.

With a little bit of exploration and patience, you’ll discover the combination of natural steps that works best for you!

References

Freeman EW, Sammel MD, Lin H, Gracia CR, Kapoor S, Ferdousi T. The role of anxiety and hormonal changes in menopausal hot flashes. Menopause. 2005 May/June;12(3):258-266.

Kirsch, I. Initial severity and antidepressant benefits: a meta-analysis of data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. PLoS Med. 2008 Feb; 5(2):e45. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2253608/?tool=pubmed (accessed 07.18.12)