By Bonnie Jenkins
Several years ago, women started walking away from hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in droves after it was discovered these drugs increased the risk of breast cancer. Now, it seems, the danger is even more serious than we originally thought!
According to the latest research from the landmark Women’s Health Initiative, postmenopausal women who take a combination of estrogen-plus-progestin are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a more advanced and deadly stage.
This is truly scary news, especially since some doctors still push HRT to their patients going through menopause. In fact, there are 40 million prescriptions for HRT still being written every year!
The women taking part in the study were either given combination HRT or a dummy placebo pill. Out of the nearly 13,000 women who took part in the 11-year study, a significant number were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer that had spread to their lymph glands. The researchers also found that twice as many of the women in the HRT group who were diagnosed with breast cancer died from their disease compared to those in the placebo group.
Why are some women still taking HRT? Because they aren’t aware of the safe and natural options available to them.
It’s true that hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and mood swings can make life seem like a never-ending rollercoaster. Fortunately, two herbs—when taken together—can bring relief without the dangers of HRT.
If hot flashes and night sweats are making you miserable, black cohosh can help cool things down. In one trial involving 244 women in the midst of menopause, black cohosh was just as effective as HRT to quell hot flashes.1
As a bonus, it’s also effective for treating the mood swings that occur as hormones fluctuate. The average dosage is 40 to 80 mg. of a standardized extract daily.
Another lifesaver is vitex. Derived from the chaste tree, vitex increases progesterone production by influencing the neurotransmitter dopamine. It also balances estrogen levels, which helps put your hormones on an even keel.2 In Germany, low-dose levels of 30 to 40 mg. are often prescribed to ease menopause symptoms.
While these two herbs work well on their own, they are even more effective when taken together. Israeli scientists divided 50 women into two groups—those who were given a proprietary herbal supplement containing black cohosh and vitex and those given a placebo. After 3 months, 73% of the women taking the supplement reported a decrease in hot flashes and 69% experienced fewer night sweats. The combo was so effective that nearly half of the women taking the herbs found that their hot flashes disappeared completely!3
While the symptoms of menopause don’t last forever, they can certainly drive you to desperation while you are in the trenches. It’s good to know that there are effective alternatives to dangerous HRT that won’t put us at risk as we travel through menopause.
1. Bai W. Efficacy and tolerability of a medicinal product containing an isopropanolic black cohosh extract in Chinese women with menopausal symptoms: a randomized, double blind, parallel-controlled study versus tibolone. Maturitas. 2007;58:31-41.
2. Liu J. Evaluation of estrogenic activity of plant extracts for the potential treatment of menopausal symptoms. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 2001;49:2472-2479.
3.Rotem C. Phyto-Female Complex for the relief of hot flushes, night sweats and quality of sleep: randomized, controlled, double-blind pilot study. Gynecological Endocrinology. 2007;23:117-122