Our purpose is not to hinder the physiological processes of the organism. Ours is a holistic approach. An approach that encourages the ristoring of the physical balance, by facing the causes as efficiently as possible and by ensuring a fast relief of all the symptoms.
Symptoms and relief
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Menopause is a natural physiological transformation in the life of every woman, characterised by a substantial reduction of ovarian activity leading to termination of the monthly menstrual cycle.
The term “menopause” comes from the Greek “menos”, month, and “pausis”, termination; therefore it means “termination of menstruation”. A woman is officially considered to be in menopause one year after her last menstruation. The period of one year is based on statistics and relates to most women, but not all: there are, in fact, cases in which the menstrual cycle reappears after 15 – 18 months. The period preceding termination of the menstrual cycle is called pre-menopause and is rich in symptoms; during the following period, however, called post-menopause, symptoms are generally reduced but risk of degenerative diseases still remains (for instance, osteoporosis).
The vasomotor syndrome, commonly referred to as “hot flashes”, is one of the most typical “visible” symptoms signalling menopause, experienced by 60% of women: these are sudden heat waves experienced at face and chest level, accompanied by perspiration and then chills.
This is clearly an adaptation symptom, signalling a hormonal imbalance and the body’s attempt to restore equilibrium. Located in the brain, the hypothalamus is alerted by the hormonal imbalance and tries to “awaken” ovarian activity. It does so by stimulating the hypophysis, its intermediary, to produce FSH and LH hormones: ovaries should respond with follicle ripening, production of estrogens, ovulation followed by the secretion of progesterone. But since ovarian activity is in its extinguishing phase, the body’s response to the stimulus turns out to be inadequate. This leads to a further increase of FSH and LH as well as to a hyperexcitation of the hypothalamus, where body thermoregulation is based. The hot flash is a direct consequence of this situation.
Treatment of menopausal hot flashes using conventional medicine
Hormone replacement therapy is largely used in the medical field to treat all symptoms related to menopause, including hot flashes. During the Sixties, when HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) started being used, menopause was regarded as an “illness” due to the lack of estrogens. Administration of estrogens only (of equine origin) could give women the illusion of eternal youth. However, it would take no time to realise what harm the estrogenic replacement therapy was capable of causing, with an incidence from 4 to 8 times higher in the risk of developing cancer of the uterus.
In the attempt to save the market nurtured by the “menopause as an illness” concept, multinationals in the pharmaceutical industry proposed the combined administration of both estrogens and progestins, so as to protect the uterus from the proliferative risk. There was the growing conviction that HRT could be beneficial in preventing degenerative diseases (osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases). HRT spread pervasively, both for transdermal and for oral administration. At the beginning of this century, risks incurred became clear to everybody: in July 2002, a study called Women’s Health Initiative, involving 16.600 healthy menopausal women subjected to estrogen-progestin therapy, was abruptly interrupted three years before the expected deadline. In the female population treated, the risk of cardiovascular events had been pointed out (ictus, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis), as well as invasive breast cancer. After taking note of such disconcerting evidence, official medicine devised a guideline – at least on paper, calling for caution and recommending short-term treatments as well as accurate evaluations on the risk-benefit balance for each single case. However, in practice HRT is still commonly prescribed.
Given the lack of reliable, transparent information and the general trend aiming to rush treatment of any disorder, the pharmaceutical industry has had the upper hand in this situation so far. But the truth is that menopause is not an illness in itself caused by the lack of hormones, therefore requiring replacements, because by doing this, women not only jeopardise their own health but they also deny their body the possibility to evolve together with the ongoing changes taking place.
A different approach is therefore necessary: one that takes into account the physiological evolution of the female body and that, can accompany women towards a new dimension without counteracting the natural changes involved, while helping them overcome unpleasant symptoms such as hot flashes.
Once again, Nature can thefore be of valuable help, offering elements of proven efficacy.
Nature can help you in case of hot flashes
A natural and effective approach
It is possibly to alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes occurring during menopause by resorting to an approach that provides for different aspects, all of which important and to be taken care of at the same time, because of the synergic action of its constitutive elements:
- rebalancing hormonal rhythms, by modulating the irregular trends generally occurring during menopause;
- compensating for a widespread nutritional shortage in the Western world (namely the lack of magnesium), and effectively contrast oxidative stress, responsible for aggravating menopausal disorders;
- alleviating hot flashes symptoms and support women in the adaptation process.
This approach, combined with a healthy lifestyle (in terms of diet, but not only), includes the use of natural remedies that are well known in folk tradition and the efficacy of which in providing a valuable and effective opportunity has been confirmed by recent studies.
1 - To rebalance hormonal rhythms, modulating the irregular trends generally occurring during menopause…
Nature can help you with…
Soy isoflavones: these substances, belonging to the category of phytoestrogens, are capable of binding with receptors for estrogens (even though less similar), exerting a mild hormone-like action (in fact, they are less powerful, exactly 1000 to 10.000 weaker compared to estradiol). Scientists became interested in studying soy isoflavones after noticing that typical menopausal symptoms were absent in Asian woman, whose diet is rich in soy. Epidemiological studies have moreover pointed out that the incidence of degenerative pathologies, of arteriosclerosis and osteoporosis, as well as of certain tumours – affecting breast and uterus, is definitely lower in Eastern countries compared to the West.
The extraordinary nature of phytoestrogens, and isoflavones in particular, lies in their capacity to modulate the action carried out by physiological estrogen, rebalancing their effects. Recent studies have shown that isoflavones exert both an antagonist and agonist action on estrogen receptors. This implies that with excess endogenous estrogens (a typical situation in the transitional phase in which estrogens dominate over progesterone), isoflavones carry out an anti-estrogenic activity, i.e. they bind receptors, exerting a weaker hormone-like action compared to endogenous estrogens, therefore lowering the general effect. Instead, in the presence of lower hormonal levels (a typical postmenopausal condition), isoflavones exert a weak pro-estrogenic activity, since they occupy receptor sites that would otherwise remain inactivated. This action not only influences the reproductive system but all organs and tissues (bones, nervous system, skin, mucosae, cardiovascular system, etc.): in fact, isoflavones positively influence all menopausal symptoms.
Vitex agnus-castus (also called chaste tree): its berries have a rebalancing effect on the progestogen hormonal component. Their use for menopausal symptoms is explained by their action at the level of the hypophysis where, acting on gondadotropins (FSH and LH), they promote the production of progesterone and contribute to alleviating typical transitional phase symptoms. Moreover, it has recently been discovered that intake of chaste tree stimulates the production of melatonin by the brain, improving depressive symptoms as well as the quality and quantity of nightly rest.
Dioscorea villosa: of Mexican origin, it has been used since Aztec times to treat many female disturbances, from premenstrual syndrome to menopausal symptoms. Among its active ingredients there is diosgenin, a substance with a structure similar to that of progesterone. Evidence of the drug’s use (dry root extract) shows hormone-like effects towards the progestogen component. Its mechanism of action is not yet known: it can act as a phyto-progestin, interacting with progesterone receptors; it can rebalance the hypophysial secretion of FSH and LH or stimulate the hormonal production of the adrenal gland.
The most convenient form of intake of these ingredients comes in swallowable tablets.
To compensate for a widespread nutritional shortage in the Western world (namely the lack of magnesium), and effectively contrast oxidative stress, responsible for aggravating menopausal disorders…
Nature can help you with…
Magnesium: widespread deficiency of this mineral, mainly due to soil depletion and refined foods, bears implications for many aspects related to health, ranging from the psychic and neuro-muscular spheres, to the cardiovascular, osteoarticular and gynaecological domains. Due to hormonal trends which are typical of fertile life (menstrual cycle, pregnancies, breast-feeding, menopause), women are affected by a lack of magnesium with a frequency that is four times higher compared to men.
In the general, current worsening of menopausal symptoms related to the neurovegetative sphere and mood levels, magnesium plays a vital role, as well as in the rise of degenerative, chronic pathologies such as osteoporosis, insulin resistance, hypertension and vascular damage. Whenever there is a lack of magnesium, the action of calcium at the level of muscles and nerve endings tends to prevail. Anxiety, irritability, stress, insomnia, headache, muscle tension and cramps are a direct consequence. Effects at cardiovascular level are even more dramatic (arrhythmias, fibrillation, heart attack, hypertension).
Another consequence ensuing from the lack of magnesium regards bone structure: magnesium is vital to “keep us on our feet an entire lifetime”, in other words, it “saves our bones”. To contrast vasomotor and neurovegetative symptoms, to safeguard the cardiovascular apparatus and protect the bone structure, an intake of at least 400 – 500 mg of magnesium a day is recommended during menopause, to be taken as salts with high bioavailability, of which magnesium citrate represents the best.
Alpha lipoic acid: this is naturally produced at hepatic level (synthesis, however, decreases with age) and it carries out a fundamental role in cellular metabolism of energy; it also protects from the attack of free radicals and reactive oxygen species that damage and wear out organs and tissues. Solubile in both aqueous and lipid cellular fractions, it is active in every body district.
Its extraordinary nature lies in the fact that, while fulfilling its antioxidant function, it passes from a reduced to an oxidized form. Meanwhile, the alpha lipoic acid regenerates C and E vitamins, according to an “antioxidant recycling” process. It is capable of chelating dangerous metals, helping the organism to eliminate them. For these reasons it is considered “king of antioxidants” and is particularly useful for the general protection of the female organism, especially during menopause.
Intake via practical sachets to be dissolved in water is recommended.
3 - To alleviate hot flashes symptoms and support women in the adaptation process.
Nature can help you with…
Cimicifuga racemosa (Black Cohosh): its root is rich in active constituents, the most significant of which is 27-deoxy actein, carrying the plant’s main properties. According to the most reliable hypothesis, its mechanism of action involves action at pituitary level, inducing a reduction of FSH and LH levels and therefore alleviating symptoms of hot flashes. Guidelines on the phytotherapic use of this extract, drafted by the American College of Obstetrics and Ginecology, mention use for a period of six months. In the absence of clinical studies for longer time frames, use of this ingredient for longer periods is prudentially unadvisable.
Griffonia simplicifolia: the seeds are rich in a particular aminoacid called 5-hydroxytryptophan (5 – HTP), a direct precursor to serotonin. Numerous studies have highlighted that griffonia simplicifolia extracts stimulate the production of serotonin by the nervous system, leading to a general lowering of the threshold of excitability, thereby alleviating irritability, mood swings and palpitations, often associated to hot flashes.
Rhodiola rosea: a plant defined as “adaptogenic” due to its ability to reinforce the organism’s resistance in a non specific way, acting where required, yet without upsetting biological parameters. The main active constituents are salidrosides and phenylpropanoids (rosavin, rosarin and rosin). Its adaptogenic properties are attributed to its ability to empowering levels of cerebral cortex and hypothalamus neurotransmitters, among which endorphins and serotonins. Rhodiola rosea reinforces the defense system of women suffering from hot flashes, allowing them to better handle the physical and emotional stress they are typically subject to. It does not therefore act specifically on the symptom of hot flashes but on the person as a whole.
Gynostemma pentaphyllum: a plant with adaptognic properties, ideal to help the female organism under stressful conditions: on the one hand, in fact, gynostemma supports physical and mental efficiency and energy; on the other it has a calming effect and facilitates nightly rest. Its direct action on the cardiocirculatory system is also well-known, since it normalizes blood pressure, fluidifies the blood and supports cardiac pumpt functionality. These features, together with the antioxidant and regulatory properties of the endocrine system, complete the efficacy of the product in cases of vasomotor syndrome.
The best form of intake of these ingredients are undoubtedly swallowable tablets.
Given the variability of symptoms (both in terms of timing and intensity) signalling the presence of menopause, the above-described ingredients will have to be taken according to personal, specific requirements, in any case for a period of 3 – 6 months at least.