What are the alternatives to HRT?
What is HRT?
HRT stands for Hormone Replacement Therapy. Menopausal symptoms are often caused by falling hormone levels, and the idea is that taking HRT will replace the hormones your body is no longer producing, and therefore put a stop to uncomfortable symptoms.
The scare stories
Recent reports have indicated that taking HRT can increase the risk of breast cancer. In a study carried out by Cancer Research UK, which looked at one million women, it was concluded that women who take combined HRT have double the risk of developing breast cancer when compared to non-users. In women who have taken HRT for more than 10 years, that risk is even greater. The risks do decrease again, once HRT has been discontinued, but it does take 4-5 years to completely return to normal.
There has also been a lot of press recently about potential shortages of HRT. This has been blamed on shortages of raw material, shortages of the drug itself and of course, BREXIT. No matter what the cause, or combination of causes, this potential shortage could lead to a lot of anxiety for women who rely on HRT to control their menopausal symptoms.
So, what are the alternatives to HRT?
With the negative publicity surrounding HRT and the possible shortages, many women may now be seeking alternatives.
Two of the most popular products with women in my clinics over the years have been Red Clover and Sage (or a combination of both).
- SAGE – Sage leaves sweat in the heat, which is what led the traditional herbalists to start using this plant to help relieve excess perspiration. It is believed that Sage helps to reduce the number of hot flushes and night sweats for around 80% of the women who try it.
- RED CLOVER – Red Clover contains Isoflavones, which are often referred to as ‘Phyto-oestrogens’*. This is because they have the same chemical structure as oestrogen, so can sit on the oestrogen receptor sites in the body. This action allows Phyto-oestrogens basically, to ‘con’ the body into believing that oestrogen levels are higher than they are, which in turn can help to reduce many of the symptoms associated with the menopause.
*It is important to note that Phyto-oestrogens are NOT actually oestrogen and are NOT linked with an increased risk of hormonal cancers.
Written by Jenny Logan DNMed (Jenny is a nutritional therapist who has worked with clients in health food stores and private clinics for over 20 years).