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Remedies for Menopausal Symptoms
The Menopause Self Help Book
by Susan M. Lark, M.D.,
Menopausal years may bring sleep disturbances caused by feelings of volcanic heat, arctic chills, and powerful surges of emotion. They are common, but are often short-lived. Some women sleep restlessly, wake early, go for a walk, and need a nap later. Others feel so tense when they lie down they cant seem to drift off, and wake achy and irritated. Sleep deprivation can take a terrible toll on the patience and endurance of any woman.31
The flip side is that new creativity surfaces, and time should be taken to tap into it. Try putting away clocks and watches for a few days. Dont listen to radio or ask the time. Let the sun and moon provide your timing.31
Create a bedtime routine, going to bed at the same time every night. Read, listen to taped music, and then go to sleep. Keep a journal by your bed, ready for those ideas that leap out at any hour. Whatever your pattern, consciously relaxing and breathing deeply and regularly, and visualizing or fantasizing can often lead to sleep. These suggestions can become habit, which together with herbs and high-quality nutrients may rejuvenate the often-wearying process of menopause.31
Lavender essential oil and blossoms are classics for aiding sleep. Try using a little lavender sleep pillow. Put a tiny one in your pocket during the day. Or put a few drops of the essential oil on a cotton ball or handkerchief and tuck it into your pillow. You may find a lavender bath before bedtime relaxing. Add a handful of dried flowers, or a few drops of essential oil with an emulsifier. A couple of drops rubbed between the palms, then cupped over the nose for several minutes provide an excellent inhalation. Breathe deeply.
Oatstraw has been found in research studies to relieve fatigue and weakness, particularly when there is an emotional component.17 By soothing the nervous system, it can help make sleep more restful. Its considered a cooling and nourishing herb that eases night sweats, anxiety, and headaches. One cup of infusion before bedtime, or sleeping on an oat-hull pillow may lead to restorative sleep.31
Hops used as a tea helps when you are awakened frequently by night sweats. Put a cup on the night table for easy access in the night.31
Nettle tea nourishes the adrenals and may result in fewer sleep disruptions. Try using one cup or more four times a week.31
St. Johns wort, one dropperful in a cup of fresh hops or lemon balm tea, is a gentle helper for sleep.31
Skullcap tincture is both a painkiller and sleep-inducer. This powerful, nonaddictive herb rarely leaves a foggy feeling in the morning. Try 3-8 drops in a cup of water about 30 minutes before lights out, and again in 20 minutes if needed.31
Passionflower is an old remedy for nervous insomnia and hysteria, restlessness and headaches. Use 15-60 drops of the fresh flowering plant tincture before bed to relieve ongoing sleeplessness. Passionflower is a source of estrogenic bioflavonoids.31
Valerian is one of the most powerful plant sedatives known, and it is well researched. Valuable for menstrual cramps, its also treasured as a sleep aid. Use 20-30 drops before bed and repeat in 30 minutes if needed. This herb can be habit-forming if used nightly and may cause 'hangover' in the morning. Discontinue if it affects you adversely.31
Calcium at bedtime increases chances of a good sleep. Foods containing tryptophan, a natural precursor to serotonin, are good choices for a small bedtime snack.31
5-HTP from plant sources helps promote sleep and is preferably used in sublingual form. Low serotonin levels are associated with poor sleep patterns, depression, insomnia, and obesity. 5-HTP is a safe and effective way to boost serotonin levels and is one step closer to serotonin than tryptophan.20
Overall, taking 5-HTP helps "smooth out" the rough spots in the sleep pattern, preventing arousal during transitional phases and promoting deeper, more restful sleep.
For insomnia without depression, Michael Murray ND recommends taking a single dose of 5-HTP at night. Start with 100 mg; if after a few days you don't get the desired results, increase the dose to 200 mg or even 300 mg.
For insomnia with depression, Dr. Murray recommends taking 100 - 200 mg of 5-HTP three times a day with meals. Some people do better if they take that third dose about 45 minutes before bedtime. Note that taking too much 5-HTP can lead to mild nausea.
Researched and written by the ProjectAWARE group, 2000
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