Hormone Replacement Therapy Or Natural Remedies – What’s Better?

Many women who are going through the menopause are put off the idea of having Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) due to some major studies about a decade ago which called the safety of the treatment into question. The studies appeared to link HRT with a variety of other health concerns such as heart disease, stroke and breast cancer, and so many women feel concerned about the risks of the therapy and look to natural herbal alternatives.

Whilst medical research surrounding HRT appears to show that it may not carry the huge levels of risk that were first associated with it, there are also increasing numbers of natural remedies available to women, all claiming to be able to combat the range of unpleasant symptoms which affect the wellbeing of women going through the menopause. These range from depression to hot flushes, exhaustion and osteoporosis.

Professor of Complementary Medicine, Edzard Erst at the Univeristy of Exeter revealed that few of the remedies available have been properly studied. He cited some promising research around red clover and black cohosh but urged caution, saying that these are not as beneficial as HRT. Dr John Stevenson, a consultant at the Royal Brompton Hospital agreed with him, pointing out that very few minerals and vitamins have ever been proved to have a beneficial effect, although he added that red clover, soy extract, genistein and daidzein have been shown to have some beneficial effects, but nothing that is anywhere near strong enough to combat the symptoms of menopause in the same way as HRT.

As these types of remedies are often quite weak, Joan Pitkin, Director of the Menopause Clinical and Research Unit at Northwick Park and St Mark’s Hospital urged caution with brands that have ‘a little bit of everything’ as you will often find that they don’t then contain enough of any one ingredient to have enough of an effect. She urges consumers to shop around carefully and choose a brand that has a strong amount of an active ingredient.

Even so, no natural remedies can reverse the onset of osteoporosis which often occurs in women during menopause due to the sudden drop in oestrogen, so extra caution is urged. Sufferers should also take plenty of exercise as this has been shown to be highly beneficial to their wellness during the menopause.

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