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November 9, 2011

Alternative Hormone Replacement Therapy

Alternative Hormone Replacement Therapy and Ginseng
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The Search For the Best Alternative Hormone Replacement Therapy

Unfortunately some women have been scared away from hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and seek alternative hormone replacement therapy. There are actually many things that a menopausal woman can do to address some of her menopausal concerns in the absence of HRT. This includes lifestyle modification, natural remedies and even short-term alternative HRT. These approaches may not be all-inclusive, but you can choose one or some of them to treat one or some of your particular concerns.

Alternative Hormone Replacement Therapy for Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Two of the most common symptoms that post-menopausal women go through are hot flashes and night sweats. Post-menopausal women had found relief in many of the conventional HRTs,  yet somewomen seek for an alternative hormone replacement therapy to help them go through this phase in life with no sweat. Some doctors advise their patients to take low-dose antidepressant as HRT since this has been shown to relieve hot flashes in some women. If you plan to take this treatment, you need to discuss this with your doctor as what may work for one woman may not work for another. Your doctor can help you weigh the risks and benefits of taking low-dose antidepressant as alternative hormone replacement therapy.

Alternative Hormone Replacement Therapy for Osteoporosis

Another menopausal symptom that had been effectively addressed by HRT is bone loss and the risk for osteoporosis.  For women in whom HRT is condtraindicated or for those who look for alternatives you can opt for other treatment options, such as bisphosphonate medications or Evista. Discuss with your doctor if any of these drugs are more beneficial for you.

Other Hormone Replacement Therapy Alternatives

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has provided guidelines on the most widely-used alternatives to address menopause. Here are some of these substitutes.

1. Soy and Isoflavones are plant estrogens obtained in beans, specifically soybeans. Taking isoflavone, equivalent to approximately 50 grams of soy protein a day could possibly be an effective short term (maximum of two years) treatment to relieve hot flashes and night sweats. If intake is long-term, it can even be helpful in improving cholesterol levels and strengthening bones. However, just make sure that your soy intake must be within the dietary amounts as consuming beyond these may interfere with estrogen and may harm women especially those with a history of estrogen-dependent breast cancer.

2. Ginseng, especially the American, Siberian, Korean, white, and red types, are said to relieve stress and enhance immunity. The leading ginseng manufacturer has conducted a study to determine the effects of ginseng on menopausal women and results failed to show that it can alleviate hot flashes; however, it was shown to enhance the sense of well being of women. The problem with ginseng products though is the absence of quality control. Some have minimal to zero ginseng content, others have substantial amounts of caffeine, still others are contaminated with pesticides or lead.

3. St. John’s Wort may be beneficial as a short-term (maximum of two years) alternative hormone replacement therapy to fight mild to moderate depression in women. Recommended daily dose is 1.2 milligrams or less. It has been shown in a recent study to be ineffective in addressing severe depression. It is also shown to intensify skin sensitivity to the sun and may disrupt antidepressants.

4. Chasteberry is seen to block prolactin, an endogenous hormone that has an effect on the breast. It is used to relieve breast pain and premenstrual syndrome. Studies on its use as alternative hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women, however, are few. One study on premenstrual syndrome has demonstrated its efficacy in improving anger, mood, headache, and breast fullness. It was, however, found ineffective in addressing bloating and other symptoms.

When looking for the alternative hormone replacement therapy most suitable for you, be sure to discuss the different options to your doctor before starting to take them as these too could also cause side effects, or may not have an effect at all on your menopausal concerns.

See related articles.

“What are the Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy?”

“5 More Alternatives to Female Hormone Replacement Therapy”

“Better Living Through Hormone Replacement Therapy”

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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