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Remedies for Menopausal Symptoms
The Menopause Self Help Book
by Susan M. Lark, M.D.,
Heart rates of up to 200 beats per minute may accompany hot flashes during the menopausal years. These palpitations are not necessarily indicative of heart disease. These incidents may be triggered by electrolyte imbalances from fluid loss, or by strenuous exercise and strong emotions.
Breathing slowly and deeply for 2-5 minutes often brings about a heartbeat that is even and quiet.
Herbs that treat the uterus treat the heart also. Plants that strengthen the heart are often green/red, e.g. hawthorn, rose, strawberry, raspberry and motherwort. These foods help reduce hypertension, tonify the heart and eliminate excess fluid.31
Grapes: Mineral-rich herbal infusions of fresh, organic grape juice, or just eating grapes, have been found effective for palpitations caused by hot flashes and night sweats.31
Black haw root bark is antispasmodic, supplies phytosterols and helps a racing heart. Use 25 drops of tincture, or sip the infusion.
Valerian root tea by the mouthful or a dropperful may slow and ease a racing heart.31
Ginger (root) tea helps calm the heart. Drink hot or cold. NOTE: Because it is a diaphoretic it may increase sweating and flooding.31
Vitamin E (200-1200 IU daily) is a remedy for palpitations, as well as keeping the skin pliable. It is known to reduce risk of heart attack by 36% in menopausal and postmenopausal women.31 Vitamin E thins the blood and should be discontinued one week prior to surgery.1 Note that vitamin E over 100 IU is contraindicated for women with diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatic heart conditions; for those taking digitalis or anticoagulants; and for anyone experiencing vision disturbances.31
Magnesium (gluconate form helps avoid diarrhea) is relaxing to the chest, heart and lungs. Daily use of 500 mg taken between meals helps prevent palpitations and deepens sleep, but it must be balanced with calcium.31 While both magnesium and phosphorus work together with calcium in the body, too much of either interferes with calcium, and a 2:1 ratio of calcium:magnesium is generally recommended.
Rose flower essence is said to calm
and steady the heart.
Motherwort is an excellent heart tonic. This antispasmodic, emmenagogue, cardiac, nervine and laxative herb33 has a long history of folk use in China, Europe, North America and other parts of the world as a heart tonic for nervousness-related heart complaints, such as palpitations and fast heartbeat.23
This has been confirmed by the German herbal doctor, Rudolph Weiss MD, who also finds that regular use of motherwort can lower blood pressure and improve heart health. A dose of 10-20 drops of tincture taken 3 times daily is appropriate. Historically, motherwort has also been used as a calmative, sedative, nerve tonic, and treatment for epilepsy, and as an agent for stimulating delayed or suppressed menstruation, encouraging labor and relaxing the uterus after childbirth.23
Garlic: Eating 1 clove of raw garlic a day has been found to lower blood pressure. Several modern clinical trials using placebos and double-blind methods were completed in Europe between 1988 and 1990. Subjects with high blood pressure experienced a drop of 5-10% over several weeks. Garlic is not a specific medicine for high blood pressure as there are other more effective herbs, but it is useful as it does lower both cholesterol and blood pressure.11
Potassium is a critical mineral for maintenance of healthy blood pressure. Many hypertensives who eat 6 portions of potassium-rich foods daily may reduce their need for medication by half or more.31
Siberian ginseng may be taken in the presence of high blood pressure or hypertension and has been found to actually help these conditions. Chinese ginseng (Panax) should be avoided in the event of high blood pressure (systolic over 180 mmHg) as it stimulates the adrenals and has a hypertensive action.34
Siberian ginseng is a superlative adaptogen, imparting resistance to a large range of physical, chemical and biological stresses. It has been used as a folk remedy for heart ailments, insomnia, hemiplegia, hypertension, and rheumatism. It has also been employed to restore vigor, memory, good appetite and longevity. In China, it is seen as a tool to lower cholesterol, cure impotence and increase blood oxygen. From studies done by Soviet Drs. Z.I. Gutnikova, P.P. Vorobyeva, N.I. Guprunow and Professor I.I. Brekham, it was found to normalize low blood pressure and moderate forms of high blood pressure. What is remarkable is that in effecting these beneficial results, Siberian ginseng does not disturb or cause values to exceed normal ranges.34
In his clinical practice, Dr. Willard recommends the use of Siberian
ginseng (not actually a ginseng botanically) twice as often as Chinese
ginseng. There are no known toxic effects from Siberian ginseng. Cancer
patients, in addition to conventional therapy, are often helped by taking
Panax ginseng for one month, followed by Siberian ginseng for an indefinite
period of time.34
Recommended Siberian ginseng dosage:
Seaweeds: Some parts of the Laminaria and similar seaweeds are used as a blood-pressure-lowering drug in a preparation called Kombu. One Japanese scientist confirmed that by giving people with essential hypertension a hot water drink with extract of the kelp, blood pressure went down significantly with no side effects. Others have isolated hypotensive (blood-pressure-reducing) chemicals, including histamine, from this seaweed.6
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are
considered vital for cellular health, keeping cell walls from becoming
too rigid. High serum triglycerides are associated with increased risk
of heart disease (especially in women) because they often signal abnormal
lipid metabolism and arterial damage. High levels of LDL and low levels
of HDL as well as a low HDL to LDL ratio are two scenarios correlated
with atherosclerosis and increased risk of heart attack.32
Unlike animal fats, EFAs favorably affect our HDL/LDL (good fat/bad fat)
Lemon balm(Melissa officinalis) has a tonic effect on the heart and circulatory system. Drink the tea daily, or use lemon balm vinegar on salads.31
Hawthorne is slow acting but is one of the most reliable heart tonics known. It has been shown to increase oxygen utilization by the heart, increase enzyme metabolism in heart muscle, act as a mild dilator of the heart muscle and act as a peripheral vasodilator.34 It helps strengthen the heart, establish a regular heart beat, relieve water build-up around the heart, and resolve stress throughout the cardiovascular system. The dried flowers and leaves make a healthful tea. Grieve suggests 10-15 drops of the fluid extract or 1/2-1 tsp. of syrup daily. Or try 25-40 drops of the berry tincture up to 4 times a day, but dont expect results for a month.31
Blood thinners like aspirin have been shown to reduce the incidence of strokes but can be hard on the stomach lining. Blood-thinning herbs include alfalfa, birch, sweet clover, bedstraws, poplar, red clover, willow, and wintergreen. A daily spoonful of a vinegar made from the leaves, buds, and/or flowers of any of these provides the benefits of aspirin as well as minerals to help bone and acid to improve digestion.31
Vitamin E is one of the nutrients that may play a useful role in managing cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Others include potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium and vitamins C and niacin.16 Note that vitamin E over 100 IU is contraindicated for women with diabetes, high blood pressure, or rheumatic heart conditions; for those taking digitalis or anticoagulants; and for anyone experiencing vision disturbances.31
Researched and written by Joan McPhee, MH, WT, 2000
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