Many women choose to tackle their menopause symptoms naturally – but where do you start? Discover some alternative menopause remedies, plus the evidence behind them
Written by Rosalind Ryan on January 21, 2019
Reviewed by Gabriella Clarke on January 22, 2019
The menopause – like every other stage in a woman’s life – is about choice. You can choose to give birth in water or in a bed. You can choose to take a contraceptive pill or have a contraceptive implant. And you can choose whether to have hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or use complementary therapies when it’s your time to go through the menopause.
But what sort should you try? And which ones actually work?! We know you’re busy, so we’ve done all the legwork. Find out all about six popular natural menopause remedies, plus the studies that prove they’re worth investigating.
You can also read our in-depth guides to other natural remedies for menopause:
Sage for hot flushes
You’d normally find sage in a recipe sage and onion stuffing but it has been traditionally used for a range of conditions, including menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. Now there’s some early clinical evidence that it works.
In 2011, Swiss researchers discovered that sage could reduce hot flushes by 50% in four weeks and by 64% within eight weeks. The helpful herb could reduce psychological symptoms of menopause, such as mood swings, by 47%, too.1 In the study, women took a tablet containing fresh sage, but you could try making a tea with sage leaves.
Sea buckthorn to boost your sex life
Many women say they experience a dip in their sex life during menopause – symptoms like vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy (where the tissues of the vagina start to thin) aren’t great bedfellows for romance. But sea buckthorn oil could be one answer, especially in women who can’t use oestrogen creams or suppositories.
In a controlled trial by the University of Turku, Finland, women taking sea buckthorn oil every day for three months said they experienced less vaginal dryness, itching and burning, while additional tests showed the oil could help improve atrophy.2 Sea buckthorn oil is rich in fatty acids that may help maintain healthy cell barriers.
Vitamin E to ease hot flushes
Vitamin E is known for its ability to support healthy skin and eyes, but research now shows it could be good for hot flushes, too. A 2007 study published in the journal Gynaecologic & Obstetric Investigation reported that menopausal women taking 400mcg of vitamin E every day for four weeks experienced fewer hot flushes and that those flushes were less severe.3
Some women say that vitamin E can help relieve dry skin post-menopause, and tackle vaginal dryness too. You can find vitamin E in avocados, nuts and seeds, plant oils like olive oil, and in various skincare products.
Ginkgo biloba for low libido
Apart from the physical side-effects, your sex drive can also take a hit during the menopause. This is where ginkgo biloba steps up. A 2014 Iranian study found that women taking the herbal remedy every day for 30 days felt more sexual desire compared with those taking a placebo.4
Ginkgo biloba has also been shown to help relieve memory problems and mild anxiety – both (less well-known but still significant) symptoms of menopause. So, ginkgo can restore your get-up-and-go in more ways than one!
Valerian to tackle temperature changes
Hot flushes can affect up to 85% of women during perimenopause, but luckily there are plenty of natural remedies to combat them! Valerian – traditionally used for anxiety and sleep problems – has also been reported as a successful remedy for menopausal hot flushes.5 Valerian has phytoestrogenic properties, which means it mimics the effects of oestrogen in the body.
One 2018 study conducted by Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Iran, concluded that women taking valerian capsules twice a day for two months had less severe and less frequent hot flushes, and suggested that healthcare providers should recommend it to menopausal women.6 However, because valerian can cause drowsiness, it should be avoided by anyone taking tranquilisers, sleeping pills or strong pain medication.
Soy for menopause symptoms
Soy, a well-known oestrogenic plant, has been widely studied for its impact on menopause symptoms, particularly hot flushes and night sweats. A 2015 meta-analysis of quality medical studies concluded that phytoestrogens, including soy, could reduce the frequency of hot flushes by 11%.7
Be aware that takes time for soy to take effect – experts suggest you may need to take it for at least three months before you start to feel the benefits.8 You can consume soy either as a food such as tofu or soya milk, or in a supplement as soy isoflavones. Women with breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive cancer should not take soy supplements.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
1. Bommer S, Klein P, Suter A. First time proof of sage’s tolerability and efficacy in menopausal women with hot flushes. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21630133
2. Larmo PS et al. Effects of sea buckthorn oil intake on vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Found at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378512214002394
3. Ziaei S, Kazemnejad A, Zareai M. The effect of vitamin E on hot flashes in menopausal women. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17664882
4. Pebdani MA, et al. Triple-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Ginkgo biloba extract on sexual desire in postmenopausal women in Tehran. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4061626/
5. Mirabi P, Mojab F. The Effects of Valerian Root on Hot Flashes in Menopausal Women. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3813196/
6. Jenabi E, et al. The effect of Valerian on the severity and frequency of hot flashes: A triple-blind randomized clinical trial. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28278010
7. Chen M-N, Lin C-C, Liu C-F. Efficacy of phytoestrogens for menopausal symptoms: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4389700/
8. Stephanie Watson. Healthline. Does Soy Help with Menopause Symptoms? Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/soy-for-menopause