Menopause is a significant life change that every woman goes through. It's a transition marked by hormonal shifts, which can often bring along a host of challenging symptoms. But there's good news: nature provides us with powerful tools to help ease these symptoms. In this article, we'll explore the best adaptogens for menopause, natural remedies that can make this journey smoother and more manageable.
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Integrating adaptogens into your daily routine with the guidance of a healthcare professional can make your menopausal journey more manageable and enjoyable.
Adaptogenic blends help the body regulate the stress response, which can help to manage physical and mental aspects of menopause.
Choosing a high-quality adaptogen supplement is the best way to ensure efficacy and safety.
Before we dive into the world of adaptogens, it's essential to grasp what menopause is all about. Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 when a woman's ovaries stop producing eggs and her estrogen levels drop significantly.
The hormonal shift happens slowly over a period of 7-10 years, though the hormone changes can cause some significant symptoms, including hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, and more. Many women seek natural options for menopause management as many natural remedies for menopause are effective without the same risks and side effects as some prescription medications.
What are Adaptogens?
Adaptogens are a class of herbal remedies that have gained popularity for their ability to help the body adapt to stress and maintain balance. They support hormonal equilibrium, reduce stress, and may help to alleviate the discomforting symptoms women often experience during the menopause phase.
Adaptogens, by definition, must have the following three qualities:
- They must be non-toxic when taken in normal doses.
- They must help your body cope with stress.
- They must help the body to return to balance (homeostasis).
In other words, there is usually no harm in trying different adaptogens, and they may help with symptoms related to menopause, as well as other common daily stressors. Let’s take a look at how they may work:
Why Use Adaptogens for Menopause?
Unlike the male hormone cycle that occurs every 24 hours, women's hormones fluctuate in a cycle over the course of an entire month. The result? A whopping 75% of women experience premenstrual symptoms, including mood swings, brain fog, anxiety, sugar cravings, and difficulty sleeping, to name a few.
A lot of the time, extra hormonal imbalances can fire up these symptoms. You know when you've tossed and turned all night and up your caffeine intake to compensate? Or when you crack open a bottle of wine to unwind in the evening? All of these 'quick fixes' can worsen PMS symptoms, mostly because they heavily impact one key hormone–cortisol.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, plays a huge role in many bodily functions. Sometimes cortisol is necessary–your body produces this “stress” serum when you feel the pressure of a deadline or are in danger, enabling you to focus, run faster, or produce adrenaline that fuels your fight or flight response.
But usually, we have too much cortisol–a side effect of the busy, stressful, active lives we live today. This is especially true during menopause when estrogen levels begin to fall, leading to a cortisol spike.
Too much cortisol can cause a slew of uncomfortable symptoms, like:
- Intestinal problems, such as constipation, bloating or diarrhea.
- Anxiety or depression.
- Weight gain.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Low libido, erectile dysfunction or problems with regular ovulation or menstrual periods.
But adaptogens may help. While they won't prevent PMS or period symptoms, they're said to help the body and mind naturally adjust to them.
This is achieved by:
- Regulating cortisol levels
- Improving mental & physical endurance
- Decreasing stress & anxiety
- Supporting adrenal function
- Helping with mental clarity & focus
- Take control of menopause with adaptogens
So, what substances qualify as adaptogens to use for menopause? Here are our top picks:
The Best Adaptogens for Menopause
1. Maca Root
Maca root is often referred to as "nature's Viagra" because of its exceptional ability to support hormonal balance. It's particularly helpful during menopause for its capacity to regulate estrogen levels, alleviate mood swings, and boost energy.
One study evaluating the effects of maca on women with antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction found that it has a significant positive impact on sex drive in postmenopausal women. Menopause medical journal reports that Maca may improve depression symptoms and hot flashes in some postmenopausal women.
2. Lion’s Mane
Lion's Mane mushrooms are renowned for their unique physicochemical composition, including phytoestrogens, which exhibit estrogen-like properties within the body. Notably, emerging research suggests that the consumption of Lion's Mane by perimenopausal women might contribute to the maintenance of stable moods, potentially owing to the capacity of phytoestrogens to interact with estrogen receptors in the brain.
Furthermore, Lion's Mane mushrooms are a rich source of erinacine A and hericenones C, my chemical compounds believed to play a role in promoting the growth of nerve cells. Recent studies (2010, 2021) involving animals have shown that these extracted compounds have the potential to aid older mice in the recovery of their cognitive abilities.
Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen known for its stress-relief properties. It calms the nervous system, helping you manage mood swings and sleep disturbances. There isn’t a ton of research regarding Ashwagandha’s potential for reducing menopause symptoms, but there is one thorough study to give us some insight.
A recent 2021 study, the only one of its kind, explored the impact of ashwagandha on menopause symptoms. This double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involved 91 participants who took either a placebo or 300 milligrams of ashwagandha root twice daily for 8 weeks. The study assessed:
- Menopausal symptoms
- Menopause-related quality of life
- Hot flash frequency
- Hormone levels (estradiol, FSH, testosterone, and luteinizing hormone)
The ashwagandha group experienced a significant reduction in hot flashes and urinary symptoms, an increase in estradiol, FSH, and luteinizing hormone levels, and a decrease in menopause-related quality of life. However, no significant differences were observed in testosterone levels. It's important to note that this study had a limited sample size, and further research is needed to confirm these findings in a larger and more diverse group.
3. Rhodiola Rosea
Addressing the exhaustion that often accompanies menopause can be quite challenging. In the quest for enhanced vitality and mental clarity, the intriguing adaptogen Rhodiola Rosea stands out, having a rich history of application in traditional medicine.
According to one 2015 research paper, this botanical marvel is celebrated not only for its energy-boosting and cognitive-enhancing properties but also for its notable neuroprotective, cardio-protective, antioxidant, and anticarcinogenic effects.
Delving deeper into its potential, the research shows that Rhodiola rosea might warrant exploration as a promising selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), offering hope for the prevention, postponement, or alleviation of cognitive, psychological, cardiovascular, and osteoporotic challenges associated with menopause.
5. Black Cohosh
Black Cohosh is another go-to adaptogen for women in menopause, often renowned for its “cooling” qualities. Based on recent research, black cohosh appears effective in alleviating menopausal symptoms related to estrogen imbalances. A 2010 review reported a 26% reduction in night sweats and hot flashes with black cohosh supplements. A 2013 review showed better symptom relief compared to a placebo.
Ongoing studies suggest potential benefits, including temperature regulation in female rats. Menopausal symptoms it may address include hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal issues, pain during intercourse, sleep problems, mood changes, decreased libido, heart palpitations, hearing issues, vertigo, reduced bone density, heart disease risk, and cognitive decline.
More research is needed, but the effects of black cohosh, which is commonly taken as a tea, are mild and worth giving a shot.
How to Incorporate Adaptogens
Integrating adaptogens into your daily routine is relatively simple. They are available in various forms, including capsules, powders, and teas. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Consult a Healthcare Professional: Before incorporating any new supplement, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking medications.
- Start Slowly: Begin with a low dosage and gradually increase it as your body gets accustomed to the adaptogen.
- Consistency is Key: Adaptogens often require regular intake to experience their full benefits. Be patient and stay consistent with your chosen adaptogen.
- Quality Matters: Invest in high-quality adaptogen products to ensure safety and effectiveness.
- Track Your Progress: Keep a journal to monitor how the adaptogen is impacting your menopausal symptoms. This can help you fine-tune your dosage and routine.
The Bottom Line
Menopause is a natural phase of life, but it doesn't have to be a struggle. Incorporating adaptogens into your daily routine can significantly ease the journey by reducing symptoms and promoting emotional and physical well-being. Remember, consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your routine, and find the adaptogen that works best for you.
In conclusion, adaptogens are powerful allies for women facing the challenges of menopause. These natural remedies can help you regain balance, reduce stress, and alleviate those frustrating symptoms.
If you want to take full advantage of the adaptogenic side of functional mushrooms, consider a mushroom super-blend like our Lucid Coffee, Chai, or Matcha powders. It takes full advantage of the benefits of these superfood mushrooms by pairing Cordyceps, Maitake, Tremella, and Lion's Mane, plus powerful nootropics, like BCAA's, L-Theanine, Alpha-GPC, and more.
- “A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of maca root as treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25954318/
- “Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content” https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2008/15060/Beneficial_effects_of_Lepidium_meyenii__Maca__on.24.aspx
- “Phytoestrogens and Their Health Effect” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6390141/
- “Ameliorating Effect of the Edible Mushroom Hericium erinaceus on Depressive-Like Behavior in Ovariectomized Rats.” https://europepmc.org/article/med/36184501
- “Hericium erinaceus Improves Recognition Memory and Induces Hippocampal and Cerebellar Neurogenesis in Frail Mice during Aging” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30934760/
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- “Erinacine A-Enriched Hericium erinaceus Mycelium Delays Progression of Age-Related Cognitive Decline in Senescence Accelerated Mouse Prone 8 (SAMP8) Mice” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8537498/
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- “Using ginseng for menopausal women's health care: A systematic review of randomized placebo-controlled trials” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1744388122000834#:~:text=Highlights&text=Several%20individual%20herbs%2C%20including%20fennel,and%20QoL%20in%20menopausal%20women.
- “Efficacy of black cohosh-containing preparations on menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK79338/
- “Efficacy of black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) medicines for treatment of menopausal symptoms – comments on major statements of the Cochrane Collaboration report 2012 “black cohosh (Cimicifuga spp.) for menopausal symptoms (review)”https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09513590.2013.831836?scroll=top&needAccess=true
- “Mechanisms underlying alterations in norepinephrine levels in the locus coeruleus of ovariectomized rats: Modulation by estradiol valerate and black cohosh” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306452217302877
- “Comparison of Vitex agnus-castus Extracts with Placebo in Reducing Menopausal Symptoms: A Randomized Double-Blind Study” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6887765/