What Herbs Are Good for Menopause? A Comprehensive Guide

Last updated 03.28.2024 | by Sabrina Johnson | 11 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


The WHO (World Health Organization) states that around 80% of individuals worldwide depend on herbal medications for their primary healthcare requirements at some point. Germany has around 600-700 plant-based medicines, and more than 70% of physicians prescribe them. How confident are you about the power of herbs regarding your ailments? Has a particular herb helped to deal with any significant illness more effectively than pills?

A reader in an online discussion once said, “I have had peppermint and ginger for cold and sore throat. However, I didn’t know that herbs could also relieve other severe symptoms much better than prescription medications”. Do you think the same?

If we were to come to the topic of late, herbal medicines have effectively dealt with several menopausal symptoms. The ones that have topped the list include black cohosh, evening prime rose oil, red clover, ginseng, and St. John’s wort. Suppose you wish to know the boon of herbal medicines in managing menopause. In that case, this article will effectively help understand how valuable herbs are in dealing with the symptoms of menopause. Let’s get started.

10 of the Most Effective Herbs for Menopause

A study mentioned that around 40-50% of women in Western countries choose complementary therapies to deal with their menopausal symptoms. Herbal medicines are a part of complementary therapy, including acupuncture, meditation, dietary supplements, and massage therapy. Pharmaceutical drugs help to relieve menopausal symptoms, but they come with their set of side effects when used long-term. That’s why many women resort to herbal remedies as an alternative option. Let’s check some of the most effective herbs that would help you in menopause,

1. Black Cohosh

When talking about herbal supplements, let us first talk about black cohosh. Many people have mentioned the role of this herb in balancing fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels. However, the evidence shown regarding the effectiveness of this herb in managing menopausal symptoms is quite conflicting. Some German studies conducted quite early showed that black cohosh improved menopausal symptoms like vaginal dryness, anxiety, and hot flashes.

A study on 120 women with menopausal symptoms showed that black cohosh helped to deal with vasomotor symptoms (night sweats and hot flashes) better than the antidepressant fluoxetine. Another review conducted in 2010 showed that black cohosh supplements lessened night sweats and hot flashes by around 26%. A separate finding on 80 postmenopausal women with hot flashes showed that black cohosh helped minimize them immensely.

The impact of black cohosh on improving psychological symptoms has been shown through some studies. However, more research is needed to validate the role of black cohosh in managing your mental health.

There is less evidence to establish black cohosh’s role in improving sleep. However, it minimizes symptoms responsible for sleep disturbances like hot flashes. A 2015 study on 76 postmenopausal women showed that those who took black cohosh extracts experienced improved sleep.

Conversely, some studies negate black cohosh’s role in managing menopausal symptoms and say that more evidence is needed to validate it. Several trials conducted on 2027 peri- and postmenopausal women highlighted that black cohosh was by no means different than placebo treatments in lessening the intensity and frequency of hot flashes.

WARNING: Do not use black cohosh if you have liver issues, as it may cause further damage.

2. Evening Primrose Oil

The following herbal remedy to manage menopause symptoms that I would like to mention is evening primrose oil. This oil is said to alleviate one of the most common menopausal symptoms – hot flashes. It has even helped to deal with joint pain, hair loss, insomnia, and anxiety, which most women face in menopause.

Evidence regarding EPO’s benefit in managing menopausal symptoms is mixed. In a 6-week trial conducted on 56 menopausal women between 45 and 59 years old, it was deduced that those who took evening primrose oil experienced an improvement in the intensity and severity of hot flashes than the placebo group.

A separate trial conducted from 2018-2019 on postmenopausal women showed that those taking EPO supplements experienced less severe hot flashes.

Another study showed that a combination of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and EPO was equivalent to calcium supplements in retaining bone mineral density. EPO is primarily safe for short-term usage. However, it may trigger side effects like stomach pain and nausea.

In most adults, the recommended dosage for evening primrose oil is 2-6 grams of oral consumption for 3-12 months. If you wish to take EPO to manage your menopause symptoms, consult a doctor first.

3. Red Clover

Red clover’s effectiveness in managing menopausal symptoms is due to its isoflavone content. If isoflavone seems like jargon, let me explain in simpler terms. Isoflavones belong to the phytoestrogen group, which has estrogen-like properties and can, to some extent, function similarly to the hormone. That’s why many women prefer to use the same for managing menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, bone loss, and night sweats.

A review established the effectiveness of red clover in lessening hot flashes compared to a placebo. However, the evidence in this finding isn’t concrete and needs more research. Another study showed the positive impact of red clover in slowing bone loss, which is pretty common in menopausal women. More comprehensive research is needed to confirm the effects of red clover in alleviating bone issues.

The results of another study revealed that red clover (80 mg) resulted in an improvement in vaginal atrophy symptoms.

Mild side effects of red clover include nausea, rashes, and headaches. The herb isn’t safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women and even those with breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer.

If taking red clover supplements to manage menopause symptoms, talk to the doctor first. However, red clover tea is quite popular; many love its subtle, grassy taste. A herbalist once said that one to three cups of red clover tea is fine daily. However, anything beyond that could trigger side effects.

4. Dong Quai

Those familiar with herbal remedies are aware of Dong Quai and its role in Chinese medicine in dealing with issues women face during menstruation and menopause. That’s why the herb is also known as female ginseng. Despite its popularity, no research has validated this herb’s effectiveness in managing menopausal symptoms.

As mentioned, this herb has been quite popular among women for its ability to lessen period cramping and even hot flashes in menopausal women. However, several studies, including the one conducted in 2006, showed that the evidence provided does not validate the role of dong quai and other herbs in lessening hot flashes.

More trials are needed to confirm this. Researchers haven’t determined the safest dosage for dong quai. So, it’s better to ask the doctor about its safety and recommended dosage.

Though primarily safe, the herb may cause side effects like high blood pressure, burping, and gas. Individuals on blood thinning medications are advised against taking dong quai.

5. John’s Wort

Some evidence shows that when combined with black cohosh, St. John’s Wort helps lessen hot flashes and even improves mood swings triggered by menopause. A 2010 study compared the ability of St. John’s wort and placebo to control hot flashes experienced by women in menopause.

The study had 100 female participants with an average age of 50.4. The study’s results deduced that St. John’s Wort helped lessen hot flashes in perimenopause and postmenopause.

However, more studies are needed to confirm the herb’s positive impact in lessening hot flashes. Probable side effects of St. John’s Wort include dizziness, restlessness, trouble sleeping, and skin irritation. So, you should seek medical assistance for the appropriate dosage.

6. Ginseng

When you mention herbal medicines, ginseng ranks relatively high on the list. Ginseng tea has often helped me calm and relax my racing mind. It’s pretty effective for sleep and boosting immunity. Is ginseng helpful in menopause when you are battling it out to manage your symptoms?

When discussing ginseng’s utility in menopause, we will refer to the most commonly used Korean red ginseng. A  2016 review that combined the results of ten studies showed that Korean red ginseng improves mood and sex drive and boosts a menopausal woman’s overall well-being. Yet more studies are needed to confirm ginseng’s long-term use for menopause.

If you are taking blood-thinning, blood pressure, or cholesterol medications, consult a doctor before consuming ginseng, which may react with these medicines.

7. Chasteberry

We’ve discussed several herbs until now, and their function in relieving menopausal symptoms needs more research. Chasteberry isn’t an exception, either. This herb has phytoestrogenic properties and mimics estrogen’s functions, which is why some studies show it can lessen hot flashes and improve mood in menopausal women.

A study conducted on 52 menopausal women showed that those taking chasteberry extracts experienced an improvement in vasomotor symptoms and anxiety issues. Probable side effects of chasteberry include digestive disorders, itchy skin, nausea, and headaches.

8. Valerian Root

Alternately known as nature’s valium, the role of valerian root since ancient times in treating insomnia and other sleep disorders isn’t unknown. Some studies have shown that valerian is effective in managing hot flashes, particularly in women unwilling to opt for hormone therapy. Another study conducted on 60 postmenopausal women between 45 and 55 years showed that the group receiving valerian extract experienced less severe hot flashes than the placebo group. A survey of 100 women showed that combined valerian and lemon balm helped improve sleep in menopausal women. If you are on pain, sleep, or anxiety medications, avoid taking valerian supplements.

9. Flaxseed

Flaxseed came from the annual herb flax plant and was used as a laxative. The phytoestrogen lignan in flaxseed mimics estrogen’s function. In this way, it can lessen bone loss and hot flashes, which are common in menopausal women.

Some studies have mentioned the benefits of flaxseeds in lessening the duration and frequency of hot flashes, yet more research is needed to validate this. Flaxseeds are my favorite, and I love to grind them into my soups, porridges, and salads. Never eat them in their unripe or raw form, as they may trigger health hazards. Flaxseeds are primarily safe, but overconsumption may trigger gastrointestinal issues.

10. Maca

Maca is a vegetable of the Brassica family, which includes cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. It has long been used as an herbal medicine to improve fertility and sexual function. However, there is limited evidence of its utility in treating menopausal symptoms. Some studies have suggested maca’s effectiveness in boosting sex drive and improving depression and anxiety. More validation is needed.

FAQs

Which ayurvedic herbs help with the menopause symptoms?

We cannot ignore the effectiveness of Ayurvedic herbs in managing several symptoms of menopause. The ones that need to be mentioned include Ashwagandha, Brahmi, turmeric, and Rhodiola rosea.

Each has specific functions. Ashwagandha helps with hot flashes, stress, sleep issues, and mood swings. Brahmi improves concentration, bloating, joint pains, and mood. Rhodiola rosea lessens fatigue and enhances sleep patterns, while turmeric benefits joint pain and hot flashes.

The role of these herbs in menopause is under research, and more studies are needed to confirm their usefulness. If using them to relieve your menopausal symptoms, take the doctor’s advice.

Who shouldn’t go for herbal medications to manage menopausal symptoms/?

Herbs have worked for many to ease several ailments. Yet, they have their pros and cons. You should avoid herbal remedies or ask your doctor before opting for it if:

• You are taking blood thinners, or medications for cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
• You are breastfeeding or pregnant
• You have undergone surgery or will have one soon
• You are pregnant or breastfeeding
• You have a kidney or liver disease or any serious condition

Conclusion

Herbs have been used since time immemorial for several medical conditions. Many people swear by herbs and rely on them more than prescription medications. Many drink herbal teas for a sore throat, headache, or runny nose. But if you are planning to use them for menopausal symptoms, you have to do your research well. I am not discouraging you from using them, but I am making you aware that not every herb will suit your body well. That’s why discussing with the healthcare provider is essential.

The FDA warns people against using herbal supplements with bold claims like “no side effects,” “works better,” and “totally safe.” Besides relying on herbs or HRT, maintaining a proper lifestyle helps you manage menopausal symptoms effectively.

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.

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