Are you a woman over 50 with certain bodily symptoms that you would rather not be having? Yes, I am talking about hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, mood swings and maybe even joint pain. Spending all night throwing the duvet off because you are burning hot only to wake up again a short time later freezing cold and needing to pull the duvet back on, only to wake a short while later burning hot again . . . . . . . repeat until it’s time to get up. Well who wouldn’t be cranky in the morning after a night of that?
If you are in perimenopause; a time of irregular menstruation, or menopause the time when menstruation stops completely you are likely to be experiencing any or all of the symptoms that I have described above. The reason for these symptoms is due to your body producing less oestrogen, the hormone secreted by the ovaries.
Throughout your body many of your cells contain oestrogen receptors, a protein that is waiting for oestrogen to come along and make it complete so that it can do its job within the body, such as production of collagen (needed for skin repair), cortisol (needed for energy) and neurotransmitters (needed for brain functioning and mood balancing).
If your body does not produce enough oestrogen to fill all the oestrogen receptors within the body, then the function that those cells perform will remain undone and hence the symptoms that you may be experiencing.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) synthetically replaces the body’s natural oestrogen. In theory this sounds fabulous, but HRT has side effects and doesn’t necessarily work as well as we are led to believe.
The good news is that we do not need to rely on drugs to get us through the menopause and healthy, natural alternatives are available with no side effects. One of these alternatives is the use of phytoestrogens – naturally occurring compounds found in plants. Phytoestrogens attach to oestrogen receptors in your body in exactly the same way as oestrogen made within your body and allows that oestrogen receptor to perform the same task that it would perform when oestrogen attaches to it.
One of the highest levels of phytoestrogens is found in linseed (aka flax). When a clinical research was conducted into the benefits of flax seed for menopausal symptoms the results proved that using flax seed was superior in results to pharmaceutically produced HRT.
Here are the results of the study
Study location: Izmir Katip Celebi University, Turkey
Study size: 140 women with no menstruation for at least one year divided into 4 groups
Study length: 3 months
Group 1: no HRT taken, 5 g flax seed per day
Group 2: as group 1 but with the addition of training about menopause
Group 3: 2 milligrams of oestradiol hemihydrate and 1 milligram of norethindrone acetate per day. HRT
Group 4: no treatment
The four groups were tested at the start and end of the test period using two scales:
- Menopause Rating Scale introduced in 1992 to measure menopausal issues their intensity and frequency
- SP-36 Quality-of-Life Scale – a leading test since 1987
Results on the Menopausal Rating Scale
At the end of the study the researchers concluded that Group 1 and Group 2 had significantly fewer and less-intense menopausal syndrome symptoms. Group 1 showed a decrease of almost 9% and Group 2 10%.
Group 3 saw their menopausal symptoms decrease, by about 10%
Group 4 had increased menopausal syndrome symptoms by an average of 7%.
Groups one and two had a decrease in menopausal syndrome symptoms, by an average of nearly 9% and 10%.
Results on the Quality of Life Scale
Group 1: scored 38.93 at the start of the study and 49.00 at the end of the study
Group 2: scored 38.63 at the start of the study and 41.69 at the end of the study
Group 3: scored 37.29 at the start of the study and 34.65 at the end of the study
Group 4: scored 34.94 at the start of the study and 33.82 at the end of the study
Taking HRT may reduce menopausal symptoms by the same amount as 5g of flax seed per day. Taking HRT will reduce quality of life, whilst taking flax seeds will enhance quality of life
The reduction of quality of life experienced whilst taking HRT does not take into account the side effects of taking HRT such as intestinal irritation, vaginal bleeding, nausea, headaches as well as the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, increase in inflammation and increased risks of breast cancer.
Linseeds / flax seeds are readily available in health food stores and inexpensive. They can be added to smoothies without you even knowing they are there; or grind them and sprinkle them on top porridge or soup. If you do grind them keep them in the fridge after grinding and for no longer than three days.
Share them with the rest of your family too as flaxseeds are beneficial for more than just menopausal symptoms. They can also help to reduce levels low-density lipoproteins (LDL), aid digestion and bowel movements and are also a good source of omega-3 fat which is good for the heart and the brain.
This is just one of several natural strategies that I have used to eliminate my own night sweats and hot flushes. To find out more message me for further details Sandra@TheEssenceOfHealth.co.uk
Cetisli NE, Saruhan A, Kivcak B. The effects of flaxseed on menopausal symptoms and quality of life. Holist Nurs Pract. 2015 May-Jun;29(3):151-7. doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000085.
Pradhan AD, Manson JE, Rossouw JE, Siscovick DS, Mouton CP, Rifai N, Wallace RB, Jackson RD, Pettinger MB, Ridker PM. Inflammatory biomarkers, hormone replacement therapy, and incident coronary heart disease: prospective analysis from the Women’s Health Initiative observational study. JAMA. 2002 Aug 28;288(8):980-7.