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Remedies for Menopausal Symptoms
The Menopause Self Help Book
by Susan M. Lark, M.D.,
DEPRESSION & MENTAL FATIGUE
Depression, common among women with surgically induced menopause, is also common in single mothers and in women approaching menopause. Why?
Steroids, high blood pressure drugs, and ERT/HRT are a few common causes of depression. Poverty also precipitates depression, and women make up more than two-thirds of all Americans who live below poverty level. One often-overlooked physical cause of depression is low thyroid function (hypothyroidism).31
Consider getting help if you are depressed for more than two weeks. Perhaps call your local hot line (the number is often in the front of your phone book). Or you may try using herbal and energetic remedies for both ordinary as well as the more severe clinical depression.
The following herbs and therapies may have a stimulatory effect, improving energy and vitality. Women using these herbs may note an increased ability to handle stress, as well as improved physical and mental capabilities.
DEPRESSION: HERBAL & GENERAL REMEDIES
Siberian ginseng has been important in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for decreasing fatigue and weakness. It boosts immunity, strengthens the cardiovascular system, and may be safely used over the long term. German health authorities endorse Siberian ginseng as a tonic for invigorating and fortifying the body in times of fatigue, debility, convalescence, or declining capacity for work and concentration.23
St. Johns Wort was reported (1984) in a leading German medical journal as demonstrating significant improvement in depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Since then, numerous studies have supported this, although the active component(s) are highly debated. Although photosensitization has been known to occur in animals, the fact is that the photosensitizing dose for humans is not known. Further research is needed; however, it may be wise to limit exposure to sunshine while using St. Johns Wort. The herb is taken in daily doses of 2-4 grams, calculated to contain 0.2-1.0 mg of hypericin. Capsules containing 300 mg of the extract (and 0.3% of the active ingredient hypericin) are typically taken 3 times a day.12
Garden sage, an aromatic member of the mint family, is an ancient ally for depression and emotionally distressed mid-life women. It is also said to have mild estrogenic effects, possibly explaining its use as a menstruation-promoter.23 Sage has been also been used traditionally to stop breast milk flow, dysmenorrhea and reduce perspiration (for example night sweats).34 Susun Weed suggests you make a quart/liter of the infusion, dilute it to taste with hot water or warm milk and honey, and drink it. It will keep in the refrigerator for weeks, and leftovers make a great hair rinse.
Ginger has been a powerhouse in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for thousands of years. It is a diaphoretic herb that decreases fatigue and weakness and is potentially valuable for depression. It is also helpful for digestion, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.23
Dandelion root contains inulin, phytosterols, and saponins34 that may account for its ability to stimulate improved physical and mental capabilities.
Natural progesterone: "Mental clarity and concentration improves when post-menopausal women supplement with natural progesterone," says John Lee, M.D. "A cream needs at least 400-450 mg per ounce to be effective", as described in his book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. He writes that "Natural progesterone is not to be confused with progestin, a synthetic copycat that doesnt have the same molecular structure and behaves differently than the natural molecule, and is used in prescription drugs such as Provera (Medroxyprogesterone acetate)."
Oat straw: Although many contemporary herbalists carry on the tradition of recommending oat straw tea and other formulations as antidepressants, sedatives and restorative tonics, no sound evidence can be found to support the use of oat straw internally. Citing a lack of demonstrated efficacy, German health authorities declined to approve of oat formulations for proposed medicinal uses.23 On the other hand, Dr. Susan Lark reports that "oat straw has been found in research studies to relieve fatigue and weakness, particularly when there is an emotional component.17 If desired, you may drink as many cups a day as you wish.31
Bach flower remedies, Wild Rose, Larch, Mustard, Gorse and Gentian help alleviate feelings of apathy, resignation, despondency, inferiority, despair, hopelessness, discouragement, self-doubt and intense descending gloom.
Sunlight is vital for both physical and emotional health. Try to get 15 minutes of sunlight on your uncovered eyelids daily (take out contact lenses), or in the absence of sun try sitting next to 6 -8 regular fluorescent tubes (2,500 lux) for 30 minutes each day upon waking.31
Song and Dance have carried people out of depression for centuries. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise, especially soon after wakening, has often been found helpful for relief of depression resistant to all other treatments including drugs.31
Massage therapy is often more effective than talk therapy for reaching and healing hidden traumas and relieving depression. Even a single session can have a dramatic effect.
Imitate joy. Stand tall, smile with your whole face, and breathe deeply. You will either start feeling happier or make your rage/grief more visible and more easily accessed.
To energize when depressed you can sigh deeply many times; hold your arms out in front of you for several minutes; bounce up and down on the balls of your feet. Try it!
Arum metallicum: if you have frequent thoughts of suicide, feel cut off from love and joy
Sepia: if you just want to be left alone, are disinterested in sex, and snap angrily at family and friends
Calms forte (a blend including calcium): if you experience depression with crying
Researched and written by Joan McPhee, MH, WT, 2000
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