Menopause is something that has to be experienced to be believed. Something that leaves many women in the lurch when dealing with symptoms of menopause, or doubting if what they’re experiencing is related to menopause at all. There are natural remedies for menopause that can help ease those symptoms and restore balance to your body.

In this excerpt from the book Real Cause, Real Cure by Jacob Teitelbaum, MD and Bill Gottlieb, CHC the authors discuss the causes underlying menopause symptoms and how natural remedies for menopause can relieve them.

Menopausal Problems

Real Cause

  • Hormonal Imbalances. Menopause is a natural phenomenon, but falling estrogen levels can cause uncomfortable symptoms that a woman may want to address—such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, depression, mood swings, memory loss, low libido, and painful intercourse…
  • The many distressing symptoms of perimenopause (when the length of the menstrual cycle starts to change and there are missed menses) and menopause (12 months after your final period)
  • Why falling levels of estrogen cause those symptoms, and the role played by progesterone
  • The deadly toxicity of conventional treatment for menopausal problems: synthetic versions of estrogen and progesterone
  • The safety and effectiveness of natural, bioidentical estrogen and progesterone, exact replicas of the chemical structure of your own hormones
  • The regimen of bioidentical hormones I prescribe for most of my perimenopausal and postmenopausal patients seeking relief from menopausal symptoms
  • The many benefits of taking bioidentical hormones, from relief of menopausal symptoms to protection against heart disease

Real Cure Regimen

In this chapter, I’ll present a summary of the regimen presented there, along with a few more ideas for dealing with the discomforts of menopause.

Remember, however, that menopause is not an illness, any more than puberty is. If you feel comfortable weathering the change, it’s fine to simply ignore the symptoms or live with them. The time to consider addressing symptoms is if they are uncomfortable. Some women also find that they feel and look younger on the bioidentical hormones, and prefer them for this reason as well. Whether you prefer to simply add more edamame to your diet…or take a hormone-balancing herb…or take bioidentical hormones…or simply live with the changes…it’s always a personal preference. There is no right or wrong answer for the process of menopause. Choose the options that feel best to you, for as long as they feel best to you. Trust your feelings, and what your body is telling you.

Take Bioidentical Hormones

The main treatment I use in my perimenopausal and menopausal patients is the bioidentical estrogen hormone Biest, along with natural progesterone. (Progesterone is like your body’s natural Valium, helping you to stay calm and fall asleep.) These hormones are compounded into a cream by a compounding pharmacy, which makes customized medications on-site. I find that Women’s International Pharmacy, which supplies bioidentical hormone creams by prescription, has excellent quality and lowest price.

Of course, you can use a regular pharmacy. The pharmaceutical companies have found that women prefer bioidentical hormones, so bioidentical estrogen is now also available from your regular pharmacy, and may be covered by insurance. These are delivered in estrogen patches, all of which now have bioidentical estradiol. Unfortunately, the patch has only one of the two major estrogens found in Biest—estradiol; in the future, I hope the patches will combine both. The biggest problem with the patches: they tend not to stay on when you sweat. Now, back to the compounded cream…

If you’re comfortable doing so, I strongly recommend you use the vaginal cream rather than the skin cream. Why? In my patients, I’m finding that after about a year of treatment the skin stops absorbing the cream—and it stops working. (Make sure to read the product insert—and follow the directions and cautions. They include precautions such as washing your hands before and after application, and not having sexual intercourse right after using the medicines so you won’t expose your partner to estrogen.)

If you find your body likes the hormones, then consider switching to estrogen pellets (often combined with testosterone), which are inserted under the skin three to four times a year. These work wonderfully, and give very stable blood levels. You can take the progesterone by mouth. Bioidentical progesterone is now available from regular pharmacies under the name Prometrium 100 mg. If you’re on estrogen, it’s critical to take daily progesterone to prevent uterine cancer. You can take doses of up to 400 milligrams a day, although for most women the 100-milligram dose is fine. (100 milligrams of oral Prometrium equals 30 mg of progesterone cream.)

When should you begin taking these hormones? Standard blood testing doesn’t detect estrogen or progesterone deficiency until you’ve been deficient for five to 12 years. If you have decreased vaginal lubrication, and your sleep, energy, and mental clarity are worse around your periods, there’s a good chance that your hormones are low and that bioidentical hormones will help. As I often say: Treat the patient, not the test.

New Research on the Natural Treatment of Menopause

Although I would begin your personal treatment with bioidentical hormones and edamame, if more hormonal support is needed, you can consider any of the following remedies…

•Omega-3s—for hot flashes. Canadian researchers studied 91 women with hot flashes (an average of 2.8 a day), giving half the women a supplement of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Those taking EPA had an average decline of 1.6 hot flashes a day; there was an average decline of 0.5 in the placebo group.

•Red clover extract—for anxiety and depression. In a three-month study of 109 menopausal women, a red clover extract (with phytoestrogen-rich isoflavones) of 80 milligrams decreased anxiety by 76 percent and depression by 78 percent, reported Austrian researchers in the journal Maturitas.

•Hops extract—for hot flashes and other symptoms. In a four-month study of 36 menopausal women, a standardized extract of hops—also rich in phytoestrogens—reduced hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, reported Finnish researchers in the journal Phytomedicine. “Phytoestrogen preparations containing standardized hops extract may provide an interesting alternative to women seeking relief of mild” menopause symptoms, they wrote. Take between 30 and 120 milligrams of hops flower extract (6.6:1) each night.

•Black cohosh—for hot flashes, mood swings, depression, and low libido. In a three month study of 122 menopausal women, those who took 40 milligrams a day of black cohosh had improvements in a wide range of menopausal symptoms, reported Spanish researchers in the journal Gynecological Endocrinology. Use only the Remifemin brand (others don’t work).

•St. John’s wort (Hypericum)—for hot flashes. In a two-month study of 100 perimenopausal and menopausal women, those who took the herb St. John’s wort (often used for depression) had a significant decrease in the daily number of hot flashes, reported Iranian researchers in the journal Menopause. A combination product that contains black cohosh, hops, and St. John’s wort that I like is Woman’s Passage Menopause Support, from Vitanica (at, or call 800-572-4712).

•Chasteberry (Vitex) and St. John’s wort—for PMS-like symptoms of perimenopause. In a four-month study of 14 women in “late perimenopause” with PMS-like symptoms (including bloating, carbohydrate cravings, anxiety, and depression), this herbal combination significantly reduced symptoms, reported Australian researchers in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

•Soy isoflavones—for hot flashes and night sweats, fatigue, low libido, and painful intercourse. In a study of 93 menopausal women, with an average age of 56, those who took 160 milligrams a day of phytoestrogen-rich soy isoflavones had significant improvements in hot flashes and night sweats, fatigue, low libido, and painful intercourse. “The use of isoflavones, as an alternative to estrogen therapy, may be potentially useful and seemingly safe in…women who are looking for relief from menopausal symptoms,” concluded researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation.

Consider Testosterone, Too

I’ve found that a deficiency of testosterone in perimenopausal and menopausal (and other) women can cause problems similar to those caused by low testosterone in middle-aged men: fatigue, depression, osteoporosis, weight gain, muscle achiness, and low libido. As with men, I test for low free-testosterone levels (not total testosterone, which measures the inactive, storage form of the hormone). If levels are low, I treat with a testosterone cream made by a compounding pharmacy. The usual dose is 0.5 milligrams to 2 milligrams a day. (As with estrogen and progesterone, we are finding that lower doses than those used in the past are equally effective.) With this dosing, most menopausal women notice they have more energy, thicker hair, younger skin, and an improved libido.

If you also are taking estrogen and progesterone, the compounding pharmacy can combine the three hormones in one cream, for ease of application and lower cost. (As I pointed out above, if you’re taking estrogen and testosterone, consider pellets. Their downside is that they’re more expensive than the cream. But if the cost isn’t prohibitive for you, explore this option with your doctor.)

Natural Relief for Symptoms

In addition to bioidentical hormones, you can try these herbal and dietary approaches to soothing menopausal symptoms.

•Try black cohosh. Black cohosh stabilizes the functioning of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates temperature, and can decrease hot flashes and night sweats. I prefer Remifemin, from Nature’s Way, a black cohosh product that has been proven effective in dozens of studies. Take two capsules, two times daily, for two months (it takes two months to see the full effect). After that, you can usually lower the dose to one capsule twice daily.

•Eat more edamame. More commonly known as soybean pods, this tasty food is a standard appetizer in Japanese restaurants. You can find it in the frozen food section of most supermarkets and health food stores. Edamame is rich in phytoestrogens, a weaker, plant-based version of estrogen. Eating a handful a day raises your estrogen levels naturally. It’s the dietary approach traditionally used by Japanese women to manage menopause symptoms. (Eat the pea-like beans that are inside the pod, not the pod itself.)

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