09 Jun Can Milk Thistle help with menopause?
Hannah Charman explains why many women are looking at more natural alternatives to HRT to help relieve the symptoms of menopause, and herbs such as Milk Thistle are high on the list.
Hannah is a Medical Herbalist. She graduated from Middlesex University with an Honours Degree in Western Herbal Medicine, following four years of full-time study.
She is a Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH).
What is menopause?
The definition of menopause is a year without periods, which you may celebrate or commiserate depending on how they affect you!
However, the years leading up to that time are known as perimenopause. We all know that that can mean unpleasant symptoms such as hot flushes, stress incontinence, mood swings, fatigue and painful joints.
We’re constantly being told to expect the worst from our menopause, but in my practice, I’ve met numerous women who have been through it and barely noticed. It’s important to keep a sense of perspective and remember that it’s possible to survive it relatively unscathed too! If we do encounter any problems, there are plenty of tools available to help us.
How can you help yourself through menopause?
- Expect it to be a positive experience. Mindset is very important here as it is with all health issues, and we tend to get what we expect.
- Take extra care of yourself. Find some exercise you enjoy and commit to doing some every day. Eat small, regular meals which always combine protein with healthy carbohydrates.
- Relax. Our adrenals use the same base substances to create both stress hormones and reproductive ones. When we’re more stressed, there are less of those substances left to make the reproductive hormones, so the levels can become upset very easily. Your Medical Herbalist can make up a medicine especially for you if you think that this is what’s going on.
- Talk to someone. Menopause has become quite an industry now and there are specialists who support women in all kinds of ways. Some will even go and educate employers on how to take better care of women in their workforce, so seek out any help you need.
Which herbs can help you through menopause?
Menopause is different for every woman, so there’s no one herb that will work for everyone. The approach I use in my practice is to look at layering herbs aimed at the underlying problems first. Once we’ve tackled the hormone imbalances, I then add more herbs specifically for treating the individual symptoms.
There are two basic reasons why this happens: we’re either not making the right amount of a certain hormone at the right point in time, or our liver and kidneys are not able to clear the excess hormones from the body. Often it’s both, and when we go back to the relationship between stress and hormone balance, we usually need to deal with things there too.
HRI Herbal Medicine has two licensed herbal medicines which work in different ways to help restore hormone balance:
HRI Milk Thistle
The liver’s health plays a very important role in hormone balance and a herb that can help is Milk Thistle, which contains high levels of the liver antioxidant, silymarin.
The liver does around 500 tasks at the same time, and many of them are involved in filtering the body of metabolic wastes as well as external toxins. As the liver detoxifies, it can suffer free radical damage, which requires high amounts of antioxidants to reverse, and silymarin does an excellent job. It can help to rejuvenate a liver that’s had to cope with years of chemicals from our food, water, medications, and the environment. As the liver starts to return to normal, it can also cope better with internal substances, like breaking down used hormones ready for excretion.
HRI Good Mood St John’s Wort
This contains a standardised extract of St John’s Wort, which is known in the herbal world as a nervine. Nervines have a powerful effect on the nervous system, helping us to deal with stress in different ways. If you feel that stress is impacting upon your hormone balance, particularly if you’re feeling depressed as a result, it may well be a good choice for you.
So why not give HRI Milk Thistle or HRI Good Mood a go and see if they can help you to have a happier menopause?