Dr. Ashley Maltz, integrative medical doctor and owner of West Holistic Medicine, shares her presentation on herbs and supplements for perimenopause.
Watch and listen to the video. Highlights from the transcript below!
Transcript Highlights from the video
I am Ashley Maltz, I’m an integrative Medicine physician in The Amazing City of Austin Texas, if you’ve never been, come visit. I own my own practice downtown in Austin Texas and we have a full array of family medicine services: Primary Care, Holistic Primary Care, Functional Medicine, Integrative Medicine, full-time Acupuncturist, we also offer Craniosacral Therapy and Massage Therapy.
We take care of patients from birth, with my other physician who does Family Medicine, to potentially death. One of the major issues that most middle-aged women struggle with, and it can happen from even earlier and I am seeing this in younger patients as well, is perimenopause. Apparently, there is a dearth of information about it and that’s what we’re here to kind of combat, a little bit.
There are natural ways to treat perimenopause and menopause in general.
I want to point out that perimenopause and menopause is a stage, it’s a process. It’s not usually overnight, although that can happen such as in hysterectomy, like a surgical menopause, or if you go through chemotherapy you can go into menopause very quickly. Acute trauma sometimes, like brain injury and that kind of thing also can throw off your entire hormone production.
For the majority, menopause is a long drawn out process. Maybe you start to figure out that your cycles are getting a little wonky; they’re becoming more irregular or they’re longer. You might start to have decrease in sexual appetite, libido, might have some hot flashes here and there or just feeling more hot.
I was doing some research for this talk and came across this graphic from Dr. Jolene Brighton, she’s a naturopath in the health & wellness space, and she created this perimenopause symptom bingo sheet. Raise your hand if you have… forgotten your keys, your brain is just becoming more foggy, and like another one “who needs sex when you have chocolate” – low libido.
This is just part of the Natural Evolution of our hormones.
Some people bleed for much longer cycles and they have serious, excessively heavy cycles. Others may experience: joint pain, palpitations, and more.
The role of hormones & natural ways to treat perimenopause and menopause.
Our hormones are extremely important and they protect us from all kinds of cognitive and cardiovascular issues. Hormones also protect against cancer.
We really do need hormones in our lives, and when they start decreasing you can have lots of different symptoms.
My point is you don’t have to suffer and there are natural treatments that can help. There are also medications that you can take that will be helpful.
Dietary and Lifestyle Strategies for Menopause
No Integrative Medicine talk, would be complete without dietary and lifestyle strategies – which is where we start.
Generally what we want to incorporate are more of the fiber rich foods, vegetables, whole grains – if you eat grains, lots of legumes. Incorporate lots of: high protein foods and less processed foods. You also want to remove alcohol as much as possible.
Reduce Alcohol: Alcohol does not really serve us – maybe you’re utilizing it for stress reduction. That’s a very common thing in our society, however there are so many other ways to reduce stress, such as exercise.
Increase Exercise: Exercise does have benefit in the perimenopause and menopausal process.
Add Omega-3s: Fish oil, Flax seed which also has fiber and protein. Walnuts, seeds, other fatty fish – also excellent and anti-inflammatory in all aspects, not just for our hormones.
Remove Sugar as much as possible another very highly utilized substance in our culture.
Remove Caffeine: Caffeine does a number on our adrenal glands, unfortunately. We all love, don’t get me wrong I love a good cup of coffee and but you know that high that it gives us, we have the crash and it can lead to palpitations and stress hormones on our body.
Vitamin D & Magnesium – these should be checked by your practitioners. They should not be taken excessively, I mean yes maybe take a little bit every day, or go outside for 10 minutes every day arms and legs exposed that would help with a vitamin D deficiency situation. Magnesium is very useful for mood disruptions, muscle aches, all kinds of things. I love magnesium it’s my favorite and vitamin D and omegas I love them all very much.
Herbs & Supplements for Menopause
There are lots of herbs and supplements that can help with perimenopause and this is a very short list. We only have 15 minutes together, so I had to bring it down to my favorites.
Soy gets a bit of a bad rap. Granted, there are people who are very reactive to Soy, so we don’t want to utilize that if that’s the case obviously. There are studies showing that it can decrease hot flashes by almost 50 percent and it does prevent bone loss. So we want to use it from a good source I really love this brand Nature’s Way; it’s this purple cap they use in clinical trials, in this exact dosing. You don’t have to really think about it you don’t have to look for you know oh how many milligrams am I getting what’s the source you know it’s a good brand they are USP certified and which means they’re U.S Pharmacy pharmacopoeia certified, which is a third-party certification for purity*.
A lot of the stuff on the market unfortunately does not contain what it says it does so you do want to work with someone who knows what they’re doing and can make these recommendations for you.
Beyond that you can also eat soy, you can eat more tofu. I always recommend non-GMO sources of tofu or soy in general. This is the actual soybean, you can get them roasted they’re quite yummy. Edamame, everyone knows edamame, from sushi restaurants and soy milk. Lots of options for soy.
They contain phytoestrogens which are plant-based estrogens. That’s actually where some of our bioidentical hormones that replacement therapies come from, from soy and wild yam.
More evidence on that, the women’s study for the alleviation of vasomotor symptoms, which is a.k.a. hot flashes, found that a plant-based diet, rich in soy, reduced moderate to severe hot flashes by 88% and helped the women lose on average 8 pounds in 12 weeks. Who doesn’t like that result?!
I don’t think you have to be completely plant-based, that’s up to you. Whatever you choose but, just maybe, incorporating a little more soy in your diet – if you’re not sensitive.
Vitex / Chasteberry
Vitex / Chasteberry is one of my favorite plants for hormone support in general. I use this a lot for hot flashes, for active women, even cycling women just to kind of support their hormonal production.
Vitex was used in medieval times and was used by monks in Europe to make them more chaste – which gave it the name Chasteberry. It was used to decrease their testosterone basically and decrease libido.
For women, it’s a little bit different because we don’t have as much testosterone it just supports what needs to be supported.
Small studies show potential benefit for hot flashes and anxiety but no benefit in depression or sexual dysfunction.
Generally considered safe, but you don’t want to take it with antipsychotic medications or drugs for Parkinson’s.
It can cause some mild side effects as in most situations but most people tolerate it pretty well and I really like prescribing or recommending that.
Black cohosh is amazing for menopausal symptoms so if you’re starting to have some temperature fluctuations it’s really helpful. Sleep can be a big type of disruption during the perimenopause process so I highly recommend Black cohosh.
There are there are products on the market and I use one that I love it’s called Remy feminine and it has one it has just black cohosh in one product and another has Valerian and hops and these are great for sleep.
Black cohosh in and of itself has serotonin-like effect which can impact the body’s ability to regulate temperature and it can help with hot flashes.
Sexual dysfunction support Maca root is probably one of the better known herbs. It is kind of used for “warrior type energy”. Like if you think in tribal days it’s used to increase vitality and sex drive.
Some studies indicate that Maca is significantly more effective than placebo for boosting sex drive and reducing psychological symptoms like anxiety and depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are very helpful for overall health. They’re anti-inflammatory and come in many different forms and flavors.
You can work with someone who knows what they’re doing and knows great brands to utilize.
We don’t want contaminants that come from fatty fish, like mercury, lead, or all the things in the ocean that we have been polluting it with.
You do want a good brand. You don’t want it to have been sitting on the shelf for a year and have been heated so you have to use a little bit of discernment.
Ways to incorporate the fish in your life and Omega-3s: fatty fish like wild caught salmon, nuts and seeds, avocados and I love my personal favorite olives and olive oil.
I could keep going for probably another 45 minutes but I don’t want to take up everyone’s morning…
I want to thank Nourish Doc for bringing me on for this quick intro to herbs and supplements for perimenopause and menopause.
For the best results, work with a practitioner
If you are struggling if things are just not working and you’re doing things on your own I do recommend reaching out to a health practitioner to help.
There is bioidentical progesterone that can help really regulate your cycles and get you through this very transformative time. I do recommend utilizing this time to kind of decrease your workload and decrease your life burdens.
Really we’re moving into the next stage, and I say this for myself as well, we’re moving into the next stage of our lives and what do we want for the next half of our life?
It’s time to start really going introspective and thinking about all of that.
My practice again is West Holistic Medicine. Reach out here on the contact page.
If you are struggling with perimenopause stay positive knowing that there’s help, and if you’re not working with the right person keep looking. There’s always help.