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Anemone pulsatilla

Botanical Name: Anemone pulsatilla
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Pulsatilla
Species: P. vulgaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales

Synonyms: Pasque Flower. Wind Flower. Meadow Anemone. Passe Flower. Easter Flower.

Common Name: Pasque Flower

Habitat : Anemone pulsatilla is found not in woods, but in open situations. It grows wild in the dry soils of almost every Central and Northern country of Europe, but in England is rather a local plant, abounding on high chalk downs and limestone pastures, mostly in Yorkshire, Berkshire, Oxford and Suffolk, but seldom found in other situations and other districts in this country.

Description:
Anemone pulsatilla is an herbaceous perennial plant. It develops upright rhizomes, which function as food-storage organs. Its leaves and stems are long, soft, silver-grey and hairy. It grows to 15–30 cm high and when it is fruit-bearing up to 40 cm. The roots go deep into the soil (to 1 m). The finely-dissected leaves are arranged in a rosette and appear with the bell-shaped flower in early spring. The purple flowers are followed by distinctive silky seed-heads which can persist on the plant for many months.

The flower is ‘cloaked in myth’; one legend has it that Pasque flowers sprang up in places that had been soaked by the blood of Romans or Danes because they often appear on old barrows and boundary banks.

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES : 

The whole plant, especially the bases of the foot-stalks, is covered with silky hairs. It is odourless, but possesses at first a very acrid taste, which is less conspicuous in the dried herb and gradually diminishes on keeping. The majority of the leaves develop after the flowers; they are two to three times deeply three-parted or pinnately cleft to the base, in long, linear, acute segments.

The juice of the purple sepals gives a green stain to paper and linen, but it is not permanent. It has been used to colour the Paschal eggs in some countries, whence it has been supposed the English name of the plant is derived. Gerard, however, expressly informs us that he himself was ‘moved to name’ this the Pasque Flower, or Easter Flower, because of the time of its appearance, it being in bloom from April to June. The specific name, pulsatilla, from pulsc, I beat, is given in allusion to its downy seeds being beaten about by the wind.

Part used Medicinally:
The drug Pulsatilla, which is of highly valuable modern curative use as a herbal simple, is obtained not only from the whole herb of A. pulsatilla, but also from A. pratensis, the Meadow Anemone, which is closely allied to the Pasque Flower, differing chiefly in having smaller flowers with deeper purple sepals, inflexed at the top. It grows in Denmark, Germany and Italy, but not in England. It is recommended for certain diseases of the eye, like Pulsatilla, and is used in homoeopathy, but has been considered somewhat dangerous. The whole plant has a strong acrid taste, but is eaten by both sheep and goats, though cows and horses will not touch it. The leaves when bruised and applied to the skin raise blisters. A. patens, var. Nutalliana is also used for the same purpose as A. pulsatilla.

In each case, the whole herb is collected, soon after flowering, and should be carefully preserved when dried; it deteriorates if kept longer than one year.

Constituents:
The fresh plant yields by distillation with water an acrid, oily principle, with a burning, peppery taste, Oil of Anemone. A similar oil is obtained from Ranunculus bulbosus, R. flammula and R. sceleratus, which belong to the same order of plants. Its therapeutic value is not considered great. When kept for some time,this oily substance becomes decomposed into Anemonic acid and Anemonin. Anemonin is crystalline, tasteless and odourless when pure and melts at 152ø. The action of Pulsatilla is virtually that of this crystalline substance Anemonin, which is a powerful irritant, like cantharides, in overdoses causing violent gastro-enteritis. It is volatile in water vapour and is then irritative to the eyes and mouth. The Oil acts as a vescicant when applied to the skin. Anemonicacid appears to be inert. Anemonin sometimes causes local inflammation and gangrene when subcutaneously injected, vomiting and purging when given internally. It is, however, uncertain whether these symptoms are due to Anemonin itself or to some impurity in it. The chief action of pure Anemonin is a depressant one on the circulation, respiration and spinal cord, to a certain extent resembling that of Aconite. The symptoms are slow and feeble pulse, slow respiration, coldness, paralysis and death without convulsions. In poisoning by extract of Pulsatilla, convulsions are always present. Their absence in poisoning by pure Anemonin appears to be due to its paralysing action on motor centres in the brain.

Medicinal Uses:
Nervine, antispasmodic, alterative and diaphoretic.The tincture of Pulsatilla is beneficial in disorders of the mucous membrane, of the respiratory and of the digestive passages. Doses of 2 to 3 drops in a spoonful of water will allay the spasmodic cough of asthma, whooping-cough and bronchitis.

For catarrhal affection of the eyes, as well as for catarrhal diarrhoea, the tincture is serviceable. It is also valuable as an emmenagogue, in the relief of headaches and neuralgia, and as a remedy for nerve exhaustion in women.

It is specially recommended for fair, blue-eyed women.

It has been employed in the form of extract in some cutaneous diseases with much success; it is included in the British Pharmacopoeia and was formerly included in the United States Pharmacopoeia.

In homoeopathy it is considered very efficacious and even a specific in measles. It is prescribed as a good remedy for nettlerash and also for neuralgic toothache and earache, and is administered in indigestion and bilious attacks.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulsatilla_vulgaris
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/anemo035.html

http://www.outsidepride.com/seed/flower-seed/anemone/pasque-flower-seed.html

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Black Cohos

Botanical Name : Actaea racemosa
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Actaea
Species: A. racemosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ranunculales

Common Names: Black cohosh, Black bugbane, Black snakeroot, Fairy candle
Other Names: Actaea macrotys, Actaea racemosa, Actée à Grappes, Actée à Grappes Noires, Actée Noire, Aristolochiaceae Noire, Baie d’actée, Baneberry, Black Aristolochiaceae, Black Snakeroot, Bugbane, Bugwort, Cimicaire à Grappes, Cimicifuga

Habitat :Black cohosh  is native to eastern North America from the extreme south of Ontario to central Georgia, and west to Missouri and Arkansas. It grows in a variety of woodland habitats, and is often found in small woodland openings.

Description:
Black cohosh is a smooth (glabrous) herbaceous perennial plant that produces large, compound leaves from an underground rhizome, reaching a height of 25–60 centimetres (9.8–23.6 in). The basal leaves are up to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) long and broad, forming repeated sets of three leaflets (tripinnately compound) having a coarsely toothed (serrated) margin. The flowers are produced in late spring and early summer on a tall stem, 75–250 centimetres (30–98 in) tall, forming racemes up to 50 centimetres (20 in) long. The flowers have no petals or sepals, and consist of tight clusters of 55-110 white, 5–10 mm long stamens surrounding a white stigma. The flowers have a distinctly sweet, fetid smell that attracts flies, gnats, and beetles. The fruit is a dry follicle 5–10 mm long, with one carpel, containing several seeds……..click & see the pictures of black cohos:

Do not confuse black cohosh with blue cohosh or white cohosh. These are unrelated plants. The blue and white cohosh plants do not have the same effects as black cohosh, and may not be safe.

Cultivation:
Black cohosh grows in dependably moist, fairly heavy soil. It bears tall tapering racemes of white midsummer flowers on wiry black-purple stems, whose mildly unpleasant, medicinal smell at close range gives it the common name “Bugbane”. The drying seed heads stay handsome in the garden for many weeks. Its deeply cut leaves, burgundy colored in the variety “atropurpurea”, add interest to gardens, wherever summer heat and drought do not make it die back, which make it a popular garden perennial. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit

Edible Uses:
Black cohosh is used today mainly as a dietary supplement marketed to women as remedies for the symptoms of premenstrual tension, menopause and other gynecological problems. Recent meta-analysis of contemporary evidence supports these claims.  Study design and dosage of black cohosh preparations play a role in clinical outcome,  and recent investigations with pure compounds found in black cohosh have identified some beneficial effects of these compounds on physiological pathways underlying age-related disorders like osteoporosis.

Medicinal Uses:
The root of black cohosh is used for medicinal purposes. Black cohosh root contains several chemicals that might have effects in the body. Some of these chemicals work on the immune system and might affect the body’s defenses against diseases. Some might help the body to reduce inflammation. Other chemicals in black cohosh root might work in nerves and in the brain. These chemicals might work similar to another chemical in the brain called serotonin. Scientists call this type of chemical a neurotransmitter because it helps the brain send messages to other parts of the body.

Black cohosh root also seems to have some effects similar to the female hormone, estrogen. In some parts of the body, black cohosh might increase the effects of estrogen. In other parts of the body, black cohosh might decrease the effects of estrogen. Estrogen itself has various effects in different parts of the body. Estrogen also has different effects in people at different stages of life. Black cohosh should not be thought of as an “herbal estrogen” or a substitute for estrogen. It is more accurate to think of it as an herb that acts similar to estrogen in some people.

Native Americans used black cohosh to treat gynecological and other disorders, including sore throats, kidney problems, and depression.   Following the arrival of European settlers in the U.S. who continued the medicinal usage of black cohosh, the plant appeared in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia in 1830 under the name “black snakeroot”. In 1844 A. racemosa gained popularity when Dr. John King, an eclectic physician, used it to treat rheumatism and nervous disorders. Other eclectic physicians of the mid-nineteenth century used black cohosh for a variety of maladies, including endometritis, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menorrhagia, sterility, severe after-birth pains, and for increased breast milk production.

Side effects:
According to Cancer Research UK: “Doctors are worried that using black cohosh long term may cause thickening of the womb lining. This could lead to an increased risk of womb cancer.” They also caution that people with liver problems should not take it as it can damage the liver, although a 2011 meta-analysis of research evidence suggested this concern may be unfounded.

Studies on human subjects who were administered two commercially available black cohosh preparations did not detect estrogenic effects on the breast.

No studies exist on long-term safety of black cohosh use in humans.  In a transgenic mouse model of cancer, black cohosh did not increase incidence of primary breast cancer, but increased metastasis of pre-existing breast cancer to the lungs.

Liver damage has been reported in a few individuals using black cohosh,  but many women have taken the herb without reporting adverse health effects,  and a meta-analysis of several well-controlled clinical trials found no evidence that black cohosh preparations have any adverse effect on liver function.  Although evidence for a link between black cohosh and liver damage is not conclusive, Australia has added a warning to the label of all black cohosh-containing products, stating that it may cause harm to the liver in some individuals and should not be used without medical supervision.  Other studies conclude that liver damage from use of black cohosh is unlikely,  and that the main concern over its safe use is lack of proper authentication of plant materials and adulteration of commercial preparations with other plant species.

Reported direct side-effects also include dizziness, headaches, and seizures; diarrhea; nausea and vomiting; sweating; constipation; low blood pressure and slow heartbeats; and weight problems.

Because the vast majority of black cohosh materials are harvested from plants growing in the wild,  a recurring concern regarding the safety of black cohosh-containing dietary supplements is mis-identification of plants causing unintentional mixing-in (adulteration) of potentially harmful materials from other plant sources.

Bioactive compounds:
Like most plants, black cohosh tissues and organs contain many organic compounds with biological activity.  Estrogen-like compounds had originally been implicated in effects of black cohosh extracts on vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women. Several other studies, however, have indicated absence of estrogenic effects  and compounds  in black cohosh-containing materials. Recent findings suggest that some of the clinically relevant physiological effects of black cohosh may be due to compounds that bind and activate serotonin receptors,  and a derivative of serotonin with high affinity to serotonin receptors, N?-methylserotonin, has been identified in black cohosh. Complex biological molecules, such as triterpene glycosides (e.g. cycloartanes), have been shown to reduce cytokine-induced bone loss (osteoporosis) by blocking osteoclastogenesis in in vitro and in vivo models. 23-O-acetylshengmanol-3-O-?-d-xylopyranoside, a cycloartane glycoside from Actaea racemosa, has been identified as a novel efficacious modulator of GABAA receptors with sedative activity in mice

Click & see:..> Fact sheet of Black Cohos

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actaea_racemosa
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-857-black%20cohosh.aspx?activeingredientid=857&activeingredientname=black%20cohosh

Hot Flashes

Definition:
Hot flashes are sudden feelings of warmth, which are usually most intense over the face, neck and chest. Your skin may redden, as if you’re blushing. Hot flashes can also cause profuse sweating and may leave you chilled…..CLICK & SEE

Although other hormonal conditions can cause them, hot flashes most commonly are due to menopause — the time when a woman’s menstrual periods stop. In fact, hot flashes are the most common symptom of the menopausal transition.

Hot flashes are due to a reduction of FSH and reduced levels of estradiol. They are a form of flushing, a symptom which may have several other causes, but which is often caused by the changing hormone levels that are characteristic of menopause. They are typically experienced as a feeling of intense heat with sweating and rapid heartbeat, and may typically last from two to thirty minutes for each occurrence.

How often hot flashes occur varies from woman to woman, but usually the range is from one or two a day to one an hour. There are a variety of treatments for particularly bothersome hot flashes.
Symptoms:
Hot flashes, a common symptom of menopause and perimenopause, are typically experienced as a feeling of intense heat with sweating and rapid heartbeat, and may typically last from two to thirty minutes for each occurrence, ending just as rapidly as they began. The sensation of heat usually begins in the face or chest, although it may appear elsewhere such as the back of the neck, and it can spread throughout the whole body. Some women feel as if they are going to faint. In addition to being an internal sensation, the surface of the skin, especially on the face, becomes hot to the touch. This is the origin of the alternative term “hot flush”, since the sensation of heat is often accompanied by visible reddening of the face. Excessive flushing can lead to rosacea.

The symptoms of hot flashes are as follows:

*A sudden feeling of warmth spreading through the upper body and face
*A flushed appearance with red, blotchy skin
*Rapid heartbeat
*Perspiration, mostly on your upper body
*Feeling chilled as the hot flash subsides

Hot flashes vary in frequency — you may have few or many in a day — and each hot flash usually subsides in a few minutes. They’re particularly common at night. Most women who experience hot flashes have them for more than a year, but they usually stop on their own within four to five years.

The hot-flash event may be repeated a few times each week or every few minutes throughout the day. Hot flashes may begin to appear several years before menopause starts and last for years afterwards. Some women undergoing menopause never have hot flashes. Others have mild or infrequent flashes. The worst sufferers experience dozens of hot flashes each day. In addition, hot flashes are often more frequent and more intense during hot weather or in an overheated room, the surrounding heat apparently making the hot flashes themselves both more likely to occur, and more severe.

Severe hot flashes can make it difficult to get a full night’s sleep (often characterized as insomnia), which in turn can affect mood, impair concentration, and cause other physical problems. When hot flashes occur at night, they are called “night sweats”. As estrogen is typically lowest at night, some women get night sweats without having any hot flashes during the daytime.

Types:
Some menopausal women may experience both standard hot flashes and a second type sometimes referred to as “slow hot flashes” or “ember flashes”. The standard hot flash comes on rapidly, sometimes reaching maximum intensity in as little as a minute. It lasts at full intensity for only a few minutes before gradually fading.

Slow “ember” flashes appear almost as quickly but are less intense and last for around half an hour. Women who experience them may undergo them year round, rather than primarily in the summer, and ember flashes may linger for years after the more intense hot flashes have passed.
Young women:
If hot flashes occur at other times in a young woman’s menstrual cycle, then it might be a symptom of a problem with her pituitary gland; seeing a doctor is highly recommended. In younger women who are surgically menopausal, hot flashes are generally more intense than in older women, and they may last until natural age at menopause.

Men:
Hot flashes in men could have various causes. It can be a sign of low testosterone. Another is andropause, or “male menopause”. Men with prostate cancer or testicular cancer can also have hot flashes, especially those who are undergoing hormone therapy with antiandrogens, also known as androgen antagonists, which reduce testosterone to castrate levels. There are also other ailments and even dietary changes which can cause it. Men who are castrated can also get hot flashes

Causes:
The exact cause of hot flashes isn’t known, but it’s likely related to several factors. Research on hot flashes is mostly focused on treatment options. The exact cause and pathogenesis, or causes of vasomotor symptoms (VMS)—the clinical name for hot flashes—has not yet been fully studied. There is hints at reduced levels of estrogen as the primary cause of hot flashes. There are indications that hot flashes may be due to a change in the hypothalamus’s control of temperature regulation.

Diagnosis:
The doctor can usually diagnose hot flashes based on a description of symptoms. To confirm the cause of hot flashes, the doctor may suggest blood tests to check whether the patient is in menopausal transition or other causes.

Treatment:
Hormone replacement therapy:(HRT)……..CLICK & SEE
Hormone replacement therapy may relieve many of the symptoms of menopause. However, oral HRT may increase the risk of breast cancer, stroke, and dementia and has other potentially serious short-term and long-term risks. Since the incidence of cardiovascular disease in women has shown a rise that matches the increase in the number of post menopausal women, recent studies have examined the benefits and side effects of oral versus transdermal application of different estrogens and found that transdermal applications of estradiol may give the vascular benefits lowering the incidences of cardiovascular events with less adverse side effects than oral preparations.

Women who experience troublesome hot flashes are advised by some to try alternatives to hormonal therapies as the first line of treatment. If a woman chooses hormones, they suggest she take the lowest dose that alleviates her symptoms for as short a time as possible. The US Endocrine Society concluded that women taking hormone replacement therapy for 5 years or more experienced overall benefits in their symptoms including relief of hot flashes and symptoms of urogenital atrophy and prevention of fractures and diabetes.

When estrogen as estradiol is used transdermally as a patch, gel, or pessary with micronized progesterone this may avoid the serious side effects associated with oral estradiol HRT since this avoids first pass metabolism (Phase I drug metabolism). Women taking bioidentical estrogen, orally or transdermally, who have a uterus must still take a progestin or micronized progesterone to lower the risk of endometrial cancer. A French study of 80,391 postmenopausal women followed for several years concluded that estrogen in combination with micronized progesterone is not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. The natural, plant-derived progesterone creams sold over the counter contain too little progesterone to be effective. Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) extract creams are not effective since the natural progesterone present in the extract is not bioavailable.

Selective estrogen receptor modulators:
SERMs are a category of drugs that act selectively as agonists or antagonists on the estrogen receptors throughout the body. Tamoxifen, a drug used in the treatment of some types of breast cancer and which can cause hot flashes as a side effect, RAD1901, under development by Radius Health, Raloxifene and the soy-derived Femarelle (DT56a) are examples of SERMs. Menerba, a botanically derived selective estrogen receptor beta agonist currently under development by Bionovo, works like a SERM, but only activates on the estrogen receptor beta.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors:
SSRIs are a class of pharmaceuticals that are most commonly used in the treatment of depression. They have been found as efficient in alleviating hot flashes. On 28 June 2013 FDA approved Brisdelle (low-dose paroxetine mesylate) for the treatment of moderate-to-severe vasomotor symptoms (e.g. hot flashes and night sweats) associated with menopause. Paroxetine became the first and only non-hormonal therapy for menopausal hot flashes approved by FDA.

Isoflavones:
Isoflavones are commonly found in legumes such as soy and red clover. The two soy isoflavones implicated[who?] in relieving menopausal symptoms are genistein and daidzein, and are also known as phytoestrogens. The half life of these molecules is about eight hours, which might explain why some studies have not consistently shown effectiveness of soy products for menopausal symptoms. Although red clover (Trifolium pratense) contains isoflavones similar to soy, the effectiveness of this herb for menopausal symptoms at relatively low concentrations points to a different mechanism of action.

Other phytoestrogens:
It is believed[who?] that dietary changes that include a higher consumption of phytoestrogens from sources such as soy, red clover, ginseng, and yam may relieve hot flashes.

Ginseng: Very few studies exist on the effect of ginseng for relief of menopausal symptoms. In a large double-blinded randomized controlled trial, reduction in hot flashes was not statistically significant but showed a strong trend towards improvement. Lack of statistical significance suggests future research, but does not meet the scientific bar for ginseng to be deemed effective.
Flaxseed: There have also been several clinical trials using flaxse Flaxseed is the richest source of lignans, which is one of three major classes of phytoestrogen. Lignans are thought to have estrogen agonist and antagonist effects as well as antioxidant properties. Flaxseed and its lignans may have potent anti-estrogenic effects on estrogen receptor positive breast cancer and may have benefits in breast cancer prevention efforts. One recent study done in France, looked at four types of lignans, including that found in flaxseed (Secoisolariciresinol) in a prospective cohort study to see if intake predicted breast cancer incidence. The authors report lowered risk of breast cancer among over 58,000 postmenopausal women who had the third highest quartile of lignan intake. There have been a few small pilot studies that have tested the effect of flaxseed on hot flashes. Currently there is a large study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute that is ongoing, but not accepting any new participants. The rationale for the study is that estrogen can relieve the symptoms of menopause, but can also cause the growth of breast cancer cells. Flaxseed may reduce the number of hot flashes and improve mood and quality of life in postmenopausal women not receiving estrogen therapy.

lLife style changes:
According to the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) there are foods and some unhealthy lifestyle habits that can aggravate or trigger hot flashes such as: hot/spicy foods, alcohol, or caffeine. Further, for women who are overweight or obese, a gradual weight loss can have potential benefits for menopausal symptom reduction.

Acupuncture:
Acupuncture has been suggested to reduce incidence of hot flashes in women with breast cancer and men with prostate cancer, but the quality of evidence is low.

Yoga:
Doing Yoga with Pranayama, meditation, slow, deep breathing or other stress-reducing techniques is the best way to get read of the symptoms.
Prevention:
If the hot flashes are mild, one may be able to manage them with lifestyle changes by following these tips:

*Keeping cool. Slight increases in the body’s core temperature can trigger hot flashes. It is adviced to dress in layers so that one can remove clothing at the time feeling warm.One can open windows or use a fan or air conditioner. Lower the room temperature, if possible. If one feels a hot flash coming on, sip a cold drink or water.

*Avoid : Hot and spicy foods, caffeinated beverages,smoking and alcohol can trigger hot flashes. So they are to be avoided as much as possible.

*Lose weight. If  one  is overweight or obese, losing weight might help to ease one’s hot flashes.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_flash
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/basics/definition/con-20034883

Guide to Natural Menopause Survival

“Men-o-pause” may be a funny play on words but it’s no laughing matter to millions of women. When hot flashes, mood swings and memory changes are affecting your life, you want help fast. But where can you find it when the “newest” science says the old science is wrong — or even harmful?
menopause
An understanding of how and why science went astray, plus a simple, strategic plan can get your life back in balance.

What Happens During Midlife’s Pause?

Menopause is nature’s way of signaling the end of child-bearing years. When you stop having your periods naturally — usually when you’re around 50 years old — the slow-down tends to be gradual.

But menopause can occur before or after age 50, and it can also be surgically induced.

For instance, if you have your ovaries or uterus removed, you’ll skip the “peri” part and advance straight to full-blown menopause. When that happens, symptoms often intensify because there’s no gradual downshift: estrogen and progesterone production simply stops.

When menopause occurs, the primary symptoms you’re likely to experience are:

•Hot Flashes

•Vaginal Dryness

•Menstrual Irregularities (natural)

•Depression, Mood Swings

•Weight Gain (natural or surgically induced)

Short and long-term strategies can help you control these symptoms. The best approaches are preventive and involve diet and exercise. That’s not surprising because the most obvious manifestations of menopause have emerged in the last 75 years.

With a return to what’s been natural for centuries, it’s possible to minimize even the most frustrating night sweats and weight gain.

Menopause is NOT a Disease

As it is  mentioned, menopause occurs when you stop producing estrogen and progesterone, and your periods cease. So, it seemed sensible to scientists that replacing those hormones would alleviate menopausal symptoms.

One of the problems with this approach was that it looked at menopause as a disease to be treated with medication, as opposed to another life stage. The other: it turned out that synthetic hormones don’t act like the real thing.

The problems will be detailed with hormone replacement later, along with information on the “new” science of bioidentical hormones.

For affordable symptom-relief right now, here are the simplest, heart-healthy ideas, followed by longer-term solutions.

Heart-Healthy, Symptom-Ease

We all hope for a quick fix. That’s not what healthy lifestyle changes are all about, but for those who want the short-list, here’s an easy way to determine if you’re in menopause, along with the “to-dos” that put you on the right track fast.

First, ask your physician for a blood test called an FSH test. It determines if your pituitary gland thinks your ovaries aren’t fully functioning, and as a result, is secreting “follicular stimulating hormone” or FSH. There is no need to do this if you have had a surgically induced menopause, as you are menopausal by definition and your FSH will be elevated.

The higher your FSH level, the more likely you’re in menopause. Peri-menopause begins the process a few years in advance; once you haven’t had a period for a year, you’re considered post-menopausal.

Just a few diet and lifestyle changes can have a dramatic effect on how you experience menopause — especially if you start making them at the “peri” stage.

Three Surefire Strategies to Start

1.Phytoestrogens. Taking Phytoestreogens or plant-estrogens before menopause can moderate day-to-day estrogen levels, so that when menopause comes, the drop won’t be so dramatic. Weak estrogens that block stronger forms, phtyoestrogens are found in licorice and alfalfa.

Royal Maca also seems to be an amazing adaptogenic herbal solution for menopause that has helped many women. Be sure to avoid the inexpensive ones, as they typically don’t work. Get the real deal from Peru.

2.Omega-3. Take high quality, animal-based omega-3 fats. A high quality animal-based omega-3 supplement, such as krill oil, can be far more effective and beneficial than fish oil. Balance omega-3 and omega-6 by eating foods rich in these oils.

3.Green tea. Polyphenols are associated with a lowered risk of heart disease, and green tea like Royal Matcha has polyphenols that can be more effective than those in red wine — plus 17 times the antioxidants of wild blueberries.

One study shows green tea can also reduce the risk of breast cancer in younger women under 50, and now, certain polyphenols have been shown to have some HRT-like benefits, without the drawbacks.
If you noticed soy isn’t on the list, it’s because non-fermented soy can damage your health.

There are also musts-to-avoid, some of which you may be aware of already. They include refined carbohydrates, sugar, caffeine and alcohol.

What to Follow Up With

Once you’ve covered the three musts to start with, add the following to your lifestage regimen:-

•Black Cohosh. It may help regulate body temperature and hot flashes.

•Locally grown, organic food

•Exercise! Start a program that you know you’ll do at least 3 times a week, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day to start.

•Vitamin D. Please review my one-hour video lecture for the latest on this essential vitamin.

The Smartest Long-Term Solutions

If you’ve developed healthy habits that support your lifestage and invested a little time exploring the web links highlighted here, work on these long-term adjustments next:

•Add low-to-moderate intensity and variety to your exercise plan

•Optimize your health with my easy Nutrition Plan

Avoid These DANGEROUS Solutions
:-

It has been overwhelmingly proven that conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which science once touted, is in fact, dangerous. The following prescriptions now have black box warnings and need to be avoided:

1.Premarin. Premarin is an estrogen extracted from Pregnant Mare’s Urine. We now know it is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

2.Estrogen Therapy. Estrogen, which is extracted from Premarin, was effective in combating some menopausal symptoms but proved to have serious, negative side effects, such as the increased risk of breast cancer and an increase in insulin levels.

3.Provera. This drug is a progestin or a synthetic form of progesterone, which probably makes it even more toxic than Premarin. Its well-documented, negative side effects include blood clotting.

In addition, long-term usage studies revealed many other negative side effects of HRT, including high blood pressure and vaginal bleeding. A year after millions of women quit taking hormone replacement therapy, incidents of breast cancer fell dramatically — by 7 percent!

No wonder women now know to avoid dangerous, conventional estrogen replacement.

The “New” Science: Bioidenticals

Recently, there’s been tremendous excitement about Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT), which was even discussed on the Oprah show in a television breakthrough.

When diet and lifestyle changes are not enough, bioidentical hormones may be able to help.

However, the FDA has recently attacked BHRT, specifically estriol, effectively banning it. Ironically, the FDA is simultaneously attempting to create natural-substance knock-offs. Here’s what’s happening:

Bioidenticals, unlike synthetic hormones or natural ones from animals, are natural hormones that are bioidentical to your own.

The bioidentical that is prescribed 80 percent of the time is estriol. It’s natural, not a drug, and you get it at compounding pharmacies. The FDA is trying to require physicians who write prescriptions for it to fill out an Investigational New Drug (IND) application. It’s no simple form; it’s 40-pages long and expensive to file. And, the FDA admits it’s unaware of any adverse effects of bioidentical hormones.

The inside scoop: Estriol has been used safely for decades, and it is  believed that  it  is particularly useful when your ovaries have been removed or you’ve had a hysterectomy. Dr. Johathan Wright, who was interviewed many times for  Expert Inner Circle program, is a pioneer in bioidenticals, and you can see what he has to say about their value in this short video.

The attack on bioidenticals comes just as the FDA is advancing drugs that are synthetic knock-offs of natural estriol. Talk about an upside down world!

Note on Bioidentical Delivery Methods

As for administering bioidentical hormones, you need to know that some delivery methods are clearly superior to others.

Oral supplementation is perhaps your worst option, as your liver processes everything in your digestive tract first, before it enters your blood stream. Any method that bypasses your liver will therefore be more effective.

Hormone creams are one common alternative that achieves this. However, since progesterone is fat soluble, it can build up in your fatty tissues and lead to having too much progesterone in your body. This in turn can disrupt other hormones. It’s also near impossible to accurately determine the dose when using a cream.

Sublingual drops offer the best of both worlds, as it enters your blood stream directly and will not build up in your tissues like the cream can. It’s also much easier to determine the dose you’re taking, as each drop is about one milligram.

So you know exactly how much you’re taking. The direct delivery system also means you can oftentimes take a lower dose than you would need if you were taking it in pill form.

Knock-Off Naturals: Don’t Be Fooled

Natural estriol can’t be patented, so there are no huge profits to be made on it.

I’m not surprised its availability is being threatened. In fact fake, profit-generating versions of the real thing are mushrooming.

Omacor (an FDA-approved, Omega-3 fat fish oil), Trimesta (a knock-off of natural estriol, now Lovaza) and already FDA-approved Prestara, a pharma version of the natural hormone DHEA, will all soon be competing against what you can get cheaper. Some believe these natural knock-offs could even be dangerous.

For instance, Trimesta is taken orally, even though this is known to be a greater risk factor for endometrial cancer than taking hormones transdermally (through the skin). Prestara is taken in doses of 200 mg daily, which is too high for women — even 50 mg daily may cause women to experience undesirable side effects, including facial hair.

To support physicians’ rights to freely prescribe bioidenticals and your right to have access to them, go to the Health Freedom Foundation’s website. You’ll find updated information and a letter you can send to Congress and the President.

One Small Step Toward Lifelong Serenity

Menopause is one of those instances where what’s easiest and natural is also best. Because prevention is always the smartest medicine, start making changes in your diet and lifestyle during peri-menopause.

Sticking to the perimeter supermarket aisles, where vegetables and fruits dominate, puts you on the right path.

By the time menopause comes, you’ll have developed healthy nutritional habits that you can build on for every life stage.

Written By Dr. Mercola

References:
[1] The Mao Clinic Staff, “Menopause Symptoms,” The Mao Clinic
[2] American Physiological Society (2007, August 14). Grapes, Soy And Kudzu Blunt Some Menopausal Side Effects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 2, 2009

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Alternative Medicine May Help Relieve Symptoms of Menopause

Menopause in women is associated with the lowering of estrogen levels and cessation of reproductive fertility. With significant individual differences, women may experience a variety of bothersome symptoms as they go through that phase, including hot flashes, headaches, insomnia, mood swings, weight gain and fatigue.


In the 1990s, hormone replacement therapy became popular, but new studies have largely discredited that method as they found it raises the risk of developing heart diseases and certain cancers.

Currently, women are encouraged to try more natural and holistic approaches such as exercise, meditation and nutritional supplements.

Some companies are also engaged in developing innovative products that deliver relief with all-natural and clinically proven ingredients.

One of them is Seattle-based women-owned Beveragette Ventures which has just unveiled a low-calorie beverage which may minimize the many unpleasant symptoms of the transition.

Source: Better Health Research. 2nd.Nov.’09

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