The Integrative approach to menopause is wide-reaching including diet, lifestyle, mind-body, acupuncture, hormone replacement, herbs, and supplements. There are so many great options for women who are facing the disruptive symptoms of hot flashes, sleep disturbances, depression, vaginal dryness, and more. Two questions I get asked a lot are: What is the best way to treat symptoms? and What is the safest way? Listen to my video blog on this topic and I’ll outline my approach.
In essence, the best way to manage menopausal symptoms may differ from one person to the next. The key is to find a healthcare provider who will work with you to find an approach that you are comfortable with, whether that includes commercially available hormones, compounded hormones, or no hormones at all. There are some great herbs for hormone relief: soy, kudzu, red clover, St. John’s Wort, panax ginseng, sage to name just a few. And as with all areas of health, I am a firm believer in stress management and the mind body connection when it comes to handling this important phase of your life.
The answer to what is safest will also vary depending on both your personal history and your family history. There is ongoing research surrounding the safety of hormones and we are learning more all the time. At this point, it seems clear that for some women, hormones are likely safe and even beneficial for the first few years or more of menopause. Future studies will help us tease out which populations are best suited for this and for how long. My philosophy with hormones is always to consider bioidentical hormones first (either FDA approved products or compounded), use lowest effective dose, and always be realistic about risks and benefits.