These Herbs Are For You.
c.2002 Susun S. Weed
More and more American women are using herbal remedies to help them with
menopausal problems. Those who do take ERT (estrogen replacement) or
HRT (hormone replacement) may be surprised to discover that herbal medicine
has a lot to offer them as well.
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Herbs for women on ERT/HRT include those that alleviate side-effects
as well as those that counter problems caused by the hormones.
HERBAL HELPERS COUNTER SIDE-EFFECTS
Water Retention is the symptom most often cited for
dissatisfaction with hormone replacement. Herbal tinctures and tea,
such as dandelion or cleavers, and ordinary foods can not only relieve
the distress, they will go to the root of the problem and help prevent
- Dandelion root tincture (Taraxacum officinale) strengthens
the liver and helps it process out the excess hormones you are taking.
When the liver works well, the kidneys work better, and tissues no
longer bloat. A dose is 10-20 drops in several ounces of water or
juice 2-3 three times a day. If you have any digestion problems, take
your dandelion before meals; otherwise, anytime is fine. You can safely
take dandelion daily for months or years if you need or want to.
- Cleavers herb tincture (Galium molluga) tells the lymphatic
tissues to get moving. Relief from edema is usually rapid when 20-30
drops are taken in several ounces of water or juice. Repeat up to
six times at hourly intervals if needed. Cleavers is especially helpful
for easing swollen, sore breasts.
- Foods that relieve water retention include (in order of
effectiveness): asparagus, nettles, corn (and corn silk tea), grapes,
cucumbers, watermelon (and watermelon seed tea), parsley, celery,
black tea, and green tea.
Headaches are the second most common side-effect
of hormone use. Unfortunately, they are common among menopausal women
not taking hormones, too. Herbs that help relieve headache without
a drug-like action - such as dandelion, yellow dock, milk thistle,
burdock, garden sage, skullcap, and St. John's/Joan's wort - are generally
considered safe to take with hormones.
- Chinese herbalists say headaches are caused by liver stress.
My favorite liver-strengthening herbs are dandelion, yellow dock,
milk thistle seed, and burdock. I use one at a time, a 15-25 drops
of the tincture several times a day, for two weeks. If symptoms continue,
I switch to a different herb.
- A strong tea of garden sage leaves (Salvia officinalis)
offers immediate relief from headaches and helps prevent future ones.
It also reduces night sweats.
- Tinctures of skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) and St.
Joan's/John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) ease pain and relieve muscle
spasms. Use 5-20 drops of skullcap and a dropperful of St.J's at the
very first sign - no, the very first thought - of a headache. Repeat
the doses every five minutes until pain free. Skullcap can be quite
sedative, especially in large doses.
HERBAL ALLIES THAT PREVENT PROBLEMS CAUSED BY TAKING HORMONES
Breast Cancer risk is increased 20% in women who
use ERT for five or more years. Use of HRT for five or more years
increases breast cancer risk by 40%. Each five years of continued
use increases the risk. In addition, women who take ERT are far more
likely to get uterine or endometrial cancers. All women on hormones
increase their risks of lung and ovarian cancer, too. Nourishing herbs
such as red clover, and foods such as beans and yogurt, offer easy
ways to stay cancer-free.
- Red clover blossoms (Trifolium pratense), when dried and
brewed into a strong infusion (one ounce herb steeped in a quart of
boiling water for at least four hours) prevent cancer by providing
phytoestrogens that counter the cancer-promoting effects of oral hormones.
Usual dose is 2-4 cups a day. The infusion tastes like black tea and
can be flavored with mint if you like.
- Beans, especially lentils, but also yellow split peas,
black turtle beans, baby limas, Anasazi beans, and red kidney beans
are also rich sources of anti-cancer phytoestrogens. Since uncooked
beans and unfermented soy contain anti-nutritional factors that may
promote bone loss and dementia, soy "milk" and tofu are
not recommended. Miso and tamari definitely help to prevent breast
cancer but soy isoflavones may promote it.
- Yogurt helps build powerful immunity. Women who eat a
quart of yogurt a week have 700% less cancer than women who eat no
Dry Eyes afflict more than 9% of women using ERT
and over 7% of those on HRT. Risk increases by 70% for every year
of continued use. And the longer a woman uses hormones, the greater
her risk. Herbs such as oatstraw, chamomile, and chickweed can help
relieve and prevent this problem.
- Oatstraw infusion (Avena sativa) cools and moistens your
eyes from the inside out, builds strong bones too. Use one ounce of
dried herb in a quart jar; fill to the top with boiling water and
cap tightly. Let steep four or more hours. Dose is 2-4 cups a day.
Refrigerate after straining.
- Cucumber slices ease dry eyes; so do chamomile tea bags.
- The ultimate ally for women with dry eyes is fresh chickweed
(Stellaria media), applied as a poultice to the closed eyes. Leave
on for five minutes, or until the plant material feels warm (it will
heat up). Repeat as needed.
Stoke and Heart Attack are actually increased by
use of ERT/HRT, though modern medicine has long proclaimed the opposite.
Every major double-blind study done to date has created a larger and
larger gap between ERT/HRT's supposed ability to help cardiovascular
health and its actual results. Protect you heart with nourishing and
tonifying herbs and foods such as motherwort, hawthorn, and cherries.
- Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) tincture helps the heart.
The Japanese claim it is their secret of longevity. A dose is 5-15
drops, twice a day. Motherwort also relieves hot flashes, calms tachycardiia,
and eases anxiety. It's an all-in-one remedy for menopausal women.
- Hawthorn (Crataegus oxycantha) flowers, leaves, and fruits
are all used to maintain heart health and control fluid build-up in
heart tissues. A dose is 20-30 drops of tincture 2-4 times a day,
or a cup of tea with meals. This widespread shrub is considered one
of the finest heart tonics in the world.
- Cherries are even better than apples at keeping the doctor
away. Dried cherries and cherry juice, even tincture of cherries.
More than three-quarters of the women in America over the age of fifty
have refused ERT/HRT. If you want to join them, taper off your dosage
slowly, while continuing to use nourishing and tonifying herbs such
as dandelion, motherwort, red clover, oatstraw, and seaweed. And pick
up a copy of New Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way, Alternative
Approaches for Women 30-90. Meanwhile, these Wise Woman hints can
help you stay healthy and counter the detrimental effects of hormone
here to read more articles by Susun Weed
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