The Best Supplements for Perimenopause and Menopause.
CAVEAT - I usually don’t even answer the question: “What supplements are good for menopause?” or “What makes hot flashes better?” because, unfortunately, it just isn’t that simple.
In the ancient classical texts of Chinese Medicine the brilliant physicians of the era wrote that when someone is ill, you first fix the diet, the sleep, and the lifestyle and only then, if disease persists, do you use acupuncture and herbs.
Supplements and herbs are not going to fix the impact of a crappy lifestyle.
That being said, if you have addressed your sleep, diet, exercise and stress management, but are still struggling in a few areas, supplements can be game changers.
Here are some of my favourites for supporting the transition through peri/menopuase:
(SECOND CAVEAT: I never recommend self prescribing - best to see a practitioner who can help you choose the right supplements and dose for your specific situation, at this point in time. If you’re on any medication always speak with your primary healthcare practitioner before taking any supplements):
Among other things magnesium helps soothe the nervous system, can promote better sleep, lowers inflammation, assists with vitamin D absorption and bone building (both super important at this time), supports thyroid hormones, estrogen metabolism and facilitates the action of various hormones (including progesterone) on the central nervous system.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
B6 helps make serotonin. As women age, our serotonin levels drop. While the mood swings and depression associated with peri/menopause are due to a variety of factors, fluctuating serotonin can play a large role.
B6 can also address the brain fog, heart palpitations, dizziness and cognition issues. It plays a role in digestion and metabolism so may help with weight gain that can be common at this time. **Be careful with B6 as taking too much can lead to toxicity and a number of negative symptoms.
Vitex can help increase progesterone production which makes it useful in the earlier stages of perimenopause when the ovaries are starting to show signs of slowing down and periods that were once regular as clockwork start to become irregular, heavier and longer.
Fiji is one of my favourite places in the world (side note it’s where I had the life changing realisation that led me to becoming a Chinese medicine practitioner) and travellers to Fiji often get to try kava.
It’s prepared as a drink, tastes like dirty water, and gets you pretty stoned if you drink enough of it 😂
Kava can be taken as a supplement and has a profound effect on anxiety and nervous system tension.
Anxiety can come out of nowhere in perimenopause and can be surprisingly debilitating, with many women I speak with saying they’re now unable to do things they never used to think twice about - like driving on the highway (motorway) for example - without it triggering extreme anxiety or even a full blown panic attack.
From immune system support to bone and mental health, vitamin D is a critical nutrient and many people are suffering from either outright or subclinical deficiency.
A significant number of the symptoms of peri/menopause are due to the decline of oestrogen.
Weird symptoms that you would never even think of like loose teeth, burning mouth syndrome and joint pain (to name just a few).
You have oestrogen receptor sites all over your body, including in your joints, and as the levels of oestrogen made by your ovaries declines sore joints can result. The good news is that the cells of your tissues are capable of making their own oestrogen and so as the ovaries reach retirement the tissues of the liver, heart, muscle, bone and brain can take over endogenous oestrogen production.
This is why we say menopause is a transition!
Omega 3 has a host of benefits due to its anti-inflammatory action, including helping with joint pain and protecting the cardiovascular system and brain.
There's a large body of evidence suggesting that Omega 3 fatty acids play an essential role in preserving brain health, and since women have an increased risk of developing dementia and cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of death in women) it's hard to go past an Omega 3 supplement.
Sea Buckthorn Oil, Women’s Specific Probiotic Strains + D-Mannose
For use when genital and urinary symptoms are present. The statistics that compare the number of women struggling with vaginal atrophy and associated symptoms against those who seek help for it are pretty shocking. Many women are suffering in silence, not realising that there is help available.
Seeking help for genital and urinary symptoms is particularly important because they’re usually progressive - meaning left untreated they’re only going to get worse, not better.
Many women find themselves struggling with recurrent UTIs and vaginal symptoms such as itching and excessive discharge with a bad odour. These typically occur as a result of the drop in oestrogen that accompanies menopause leading to a shift in microbial colonies within the vagina, which in turn leads to changes in pH and can cause the skin of the bladder and urethra to thin, setting the stage for infection and vaginal dysbiosis.
Sea Buckthorn oil can help soothe, repair and protect thinned, irritated tissues lining the urinary tract, while Women’s specific probiotic strains may reduce the frequency of UTIs and help with vaginal symptoms.
In addition, if E.coli has been implicated in recurrent UTIs then D-Mannose can form an essential part of a prevention strategy.
Chinese Medicine Herbal Formulas
For this you’ll need to speak to a qualified herbalist, but these can work magic on Enemy Number 1 of the menopausal woman - the hot flash/flush. There are generic menopause formulas available in capsules or pills or in more complicated cases, your herbalist can tailor a prescription specifically for you.
I didn’t make this a “Top 5” list for a reason - it’s because I can almost guarantee there will be supplements or herbs I haven’t mentioned that I’m going to remember when I’m in the shower a week from now, and I’m going to think “Oh man! Why didn’t I remember X?? That should definitely have made it into my article!”
Which is to say, there is so much we can do to support the transition through perimenopause, into menopause, and beyond.
If you’re struggling with the transition and would like help you can click here to enquire about booking an online appointment with me.