Natural treatments for menopause symptoms

09 September 2015

Find out how to sail through menopause without hormones.



HRT can resolve a lot of your menopause problems – hot flushes, weight gain, dry skin, vaginal dryness, it’s even been found to help prevent osteoporosis and heart disease - but studies have shown an increased risk of breast cancer with its use.

For that reason women who are at higher risk of breast cancer may choose to find alternative ways to treat the symptoms of menopause and other women may prefer to go a more natural route. Find out how.

Menopause symptom: hot flushes

About 60% of women going through menopause experience hot flushes and it’s caused by your hormones accidentally triggering a sudden spike in your body temperature. It’s like your internal thermostat just got switched to ‘high’. They might not bother you, but for some women it causes sweating and cheeks to redden, not to mention making it difficult to sleep at night

The natural treatment

Some studies have found black cohosh to have beneficial effects on symptoms of menopause, including hot flushes, while others have found no effect. The only known side effect is possible stomach ache, so it’s worth trying

Find more remedies for hot flushes

Menopause symptom: insomnia

Hot flushes at night (night sweats) and stress can make getting your usual amount of sleep more difficult.

The natural treatment

To treat this, you need to focus on relaxing which you can do by regularly exercising, as well as trying yoga or meditation.

You can also try a herbal tea with chamomile, lavender or passionflower, or both. All three have calming properties.

Read more about getting a good night’s sleep

Menopause symptom: mood swings

The ups and downs of going through menopause can make this time of your life feel like am emotional rollercoaster. The tiniest thing can make you respond with dramatic weeping and it feels largely like it’s beyond your control. That’s hormones for you.

The natural treatment

St John’s Wort has been shown to relieve symptoms of depression and mood swings caused by menopause. Be aware, though, that in some studies a placebo showed the same improvements as St John’s Wort indicating that the benefits may be a result of psychology rather than the herb itself. 

Damiana too, may help but as yet there haven’t been any studies assessing the use of damiana on humans. Doctors warn that damiana may not be safe if you have diabetes, bipolar disorder, or breast cancer.

Be aware too that some herbs such as St John’s Wort, may interact with other medicines you are taking so check with your GP first.

Read more about St John’s Wort in our A-Z of herbal remedies

Menopause symptom: memory problems

Lack of sleep and the stress of other symptoms can make remembering things more difficult but thankfully there are ways to sharpen your mind with herbs.

The natural treatment

Research from Northumbria University, UK, has found that rosemary has a beneficial effect on memory recall. Add some to hot water for a tea or add it to food.

Discover five ways to supercharge your memory

Menopause symptom: vaginal dryness

If you’re one of the many women who sleeps better after sex it can be frustrating to discover that not only is menopause making it difficult to sleep, it’s also making sex more difficult. Even when you’re aroused, your vagina simply doesn’t produce the same amount of lubrication as before making sex uncomfortable or even painful.

The natural treatment

Thankfully, this is an easy one to solve. You can simply apply a lubricating jelly or liquid.

Experiment with different brands - many women find silicone-based liquids last longer than water-based gels.

Alternatively, try taking black cohosh (see above) which has also been found to have beneficial effects on vaginal dryness. 

Read more about how to get your love life back on track

Menopause risk: heart disease and osteoporosis

One of the good things about HRT, aside from reducing your menopause symptoms, is that it seems to helps reduce some women’s risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.

The natural treatment

Exercise and healthy eating are two of the obvious ways to avoid heart disease.

Similarly, quitting smoking and losing weight will also help keep you fit.

To help prevent osteoporosis, make sure you get plenty of vitamin D (via sunshine, supplements or foods with added vitamin D) as well as calcium.

You can also try and naturally increase your oestrogen levels by eating plenty of soya, in the form of the beans, tofu, yogurt or milk.

Read more about reducing your risk of heart disease

Find out more about lowering your risk of osteoporosis

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.