In spite of our differences, there’s one thing all women can probably agree upon: Menopause is no fun. Hot flashes, mood swings, irregular periods, night sweats, frequent urination and pain during intercourse—all of these side effects combine to make menopause a downright miserable experience. It’s no wonder that ladies will try anything to beat the heat—and other adverse symptoms—of menopause. While there are a number of wacky menopause remedies out there, many of these so-called “therapies” are pure quackery. We’ve rounded up 7 promising natural remedies for menopause relief that are recommended by alternative health experts. There may be hope just yet!
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1. Start with the breath.
Any yogi can appreciate this approach. But even if you don’t have a regular yoga practice, you can incorporate alternative nostril breathing, called pranayama, into your daily routine, says Denise Baron, lifestyle and integrative wellness expert and director at Ayurveda for Modern Living in Philadelphia and Bali. In a study conducted by the School of Medicine at Wayne State University, researchers discovered a significant reduction in the frequency of hot flashes from deep breathing. Here’s how to do it:
- Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing.
- Shut the right nostril with the right thumb as you inhale slowly and deeply to fill your lungs with air through the left nostril.
- Keeping your right hand by your nose and your lungs full, remove your thumb and use your ring and middle finger to close your left nostril.
- Exhale slowly until there is no more air in your lungs.
- Inhale through the right nostril until lungs are full. Then, close the right nostril and open the left. Continue for five to 15 minutes. Feel free to switch hands if your right hand gets tired.
2. Drink up.
Both aloe vera juice and coconut water, which you can find in most grocery stores or health-food stores, are cooling for the body and liver, notes Baron. “Especially for hot flashes! The amount to drink depends on each person, but I’d say about two to four ounces of aloe vera juice mixed with water or juice two to three times per day, or four to eight ounces of coconut water, especially on hot days,” she says.
3. Go herbal.
Here’s where it’s especially important to chat with your doctor before trying anything new. However, Naturopathic Doctor Ivy Branin in New York City recommends Maca herbs. “This is currently my favorite herb for my menopausal patients as I have seen the best results. It is the only herb that actually increases estrogen production as well as support adrenal glands and improve mood and sexual dysfunction,” says Branin, who is not affiliated with, but recommends the Femmenessence brand.
4. Spritz your face.
When the going gets hot, use a facial mist with rose and geranium to calm and cool down, suggests Baron. One that we love: Naturopathica Rose Geranium Soothing Mist ($28, naturopathica.com). The geranium flower oil is uplifting and produces all-over balancing effects while the rose geranium flower water helps soothe dry, itchy skin.
5. Add in a super antioxidant.
Pycnogenol is the U.S. registered trademark name for a product extracted from the bark of the French Maritime pine tree. “What many women don’t realize is that the symptoms of premenopause, perimenopause and menopause can last up to 10 or 15 years. It can be a slow transition, symptoms are often inconsistent and each woman experiences the symptoms differently. I routinely recommend Pycnogenol because it’s natural, safe and been proven effective for multiple symptoms, even at a low dose, without side effects,” says Fred Pescatore, M.D., of Medicine 369 in New York City. He suggests taking this supplement up to 100mg per day to reduce menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, palpitations, memory problems, loss of libido and vaginal dryness.
6. Try umeboshi.
Ume…wah? It’s a Japanese plum that is kind of like an apricot. “Umeboshi plums are great for hot flashes, headaches and mood swings as well as digestion—they ease the feeling of nausea and have an alkalizing effect on blood,” Baron explains. And you don’t have to leave the country to find it—Whole Foods, health-food stores and Wegmans locations carry them, to name a few.
7. Paint your room blue.
It sounds nuts that this would help with menopause, but there’s some scientific evidence that supports color therapy. Dr. Sharon Stills, naturopathic physician and author of R.E.D. Alert: Get Real and Heal in Tucson, AZ, recommends the therapeutic use of the color blue in particular. “It is a calming and anti-inflammatory stimulus to the body and can help cool things down both physically and mentally,” she says. If you like your current bedroom wall paint too much to color over it, you also can wear blue-colored lenses in your glasses, or receive colorpuncture treatments, which is like acupuncture except it uses therapeutic color on your meridian points instead. Hey, it’s worth a shot!