When hormone imbalances occur, proper supplementation supports the body's equilibrium. Use naturally derived oils and nutritional supplements as a companion to a healthful diet and exercise. Mainstream medicine has studied many popular supplements used to manage symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Use of herbs such as black cohosh, evening primrose oil and licorice, popular choices for symptoms' management, vary in effectiveness according to clinical studies. Take supplements on the advice of a medical professional.
Ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicine or supplement to support suspected hormonal imbalances. Individual variations during adolescence, pregnancy and menopause vary. Knowing whether hormonal imbalances exist before using supplements allows your naturopathic or mainstream physician to determine the best course for you. Your doctor will perform tests if she suspects hormonal imbalance, including blood and saliva tests. She will test levels of estrogen, testosterone, progesterone and cortisol.
Using hormone replacement therapy to treat menopausal symptoms such as vaginal pain and dryness was routine until 2002 when a research study concluded that HRT poses health risks to many women. Traditional hormone replacement therapy supplements lower hormone levels with synthetic estrogen and progesterone. As of 2010, doctors and their patients determine whether hormone replacement therapy makes sense on a short-term basis. In 2010, research suggests that shorter courses of hormone replacement therapy help women prevent bone loss, heart disease and colon cancer.
The practice of treating women's hormonal imbalances with herbs and other supplements has been common for many years. Lydia Pinkham's pills first brought black cohosh supplements to U.S. women after longstanding use by American Indians for menstrual and menopausal issues. Black cohosh, a member of the buttercup plant native to North America, is indexed by the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements. Black cohosh extracts are standardized to deliver a certain amount of deoxyactein content, or saponins. Black cohosh controlled studies assessed symptoms using the Kupperman index, measuring insomnia, hot flashes, depression and vaginal dryness. Several studies conclude that use of black cohosh can help manage symptoms other than vaginal dryness. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine funded a study to learn more about how black cohosh works at Columbia University. The study supported previous conclusions that short-term use of black cohosh, for six months or less, may help manage some but not all menopausal symptoms. A German study of 300 participants in 2006 concluded that black cohosh, when used with St. John's wort (an herb used to improve mood), safely and effectively helped to manage premenstrual symdrome, cramps and most symptoms of menopause.
Extracted from evening primrose seeds and injected into gel capsules, evening primrose oil is used to manage menopausal symptoms, but clinical trials show that evening primrose oil does not alleviate menopausal symptoms, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Taking licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) and DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice) as a supplement must be carefully managed. Studies show that licorice use can create hormone imbalances, reducing the effectiveness of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapies.
- "Hormone Balance"; Carolyn Dean; 2005
- "The Ultimate Metabolism Diet"; Scott Rigden, Barbara Schlitz; 2008
- "The Female Hormone Journey"; Pamela Levin; 2005
- "The Estrogen Alternative; A Guide to Natural Hormonal Balance"; Raquel Martin, Judi Gerstung; 2005
- "The Natural Hormone Makeover: 10 Steps..."; Phuli Cohan; 2007