The body has a system that makes sure that each organ is functioning properly by secreting out hormones through the bloodstream. That system is known as the endocrine system and its function is to make sure that the hormone levels in the body are functioning normally and that each of the other systems is doing its job correctly. When there are unwanted pathogens that are attacking and entering the body, it can disrupt hormone signals to overproduce or underproduce over time causing health issues to develop in the body. However, that is not always the case since hormones naturally do decline with age, and for both the female and male bodies, taking vitamins and supplements that are optimized for hormonal health can help alleviate symptoms like andropause, menopause, and thyroid health issues that are affected by low hormone levels. In this 3 part series, we will be taking a look at menopause, its symptoms, and supplements that can dampen the effects of menopause. Part 1 discussed andropause and its symptoms as well as supplements that can help andropause. Part 3 will be taking a look at the thyroid, its functions to the body when dealing with stress, and how different supplements can support the thyroid.
By referring patients to qualified and skilled providers who specialized in hormone wellness services. To that end, and when appropriate, we advise our patients to refer to our associated medical providers based on their examination. We find that education is the key to asking valuable questions to our providers. Dr. Jimenez DC provides this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer
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What Is Menopause?
As women get older, their bodies go through a natural biological process known as menopause. Studies show that menopause occurs in all females due to estrogen deficiency and can last at least 12 months. When this happens, the inhibitors from estrogen levels will decline and disrupt the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis causing irregular menstrual cycles and causing ovarian follicles to diminish. There are treatments like hormonal therapy and non-hormonal therapy that can help regulate the lost estrogen hormone levels in the female body and even replenish them as well. With hormone therapy, the body can function normally and give a bit of boosted energy for the individual who is suffering from low hormone levels.
Approximately four out of five women do suffer from menopausal symptoms (MPS) such as hot flushes and sweating, as well as from sleep disorders associated with these symptoms. It is important to have estrogen metabolizing to 2‐OH estrogens in women and men. By balancing estrogen/progesterone hormone levels in women, it can help dampen menopausal symptoms that are causing misery in all females. As for menopausal women, research shows that it can take months or years that are leading up to menopause. Some of the symptoms that menopause does to the body include:
- Weight gain
- Slow metabolism
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Mood changes
- Thinning hair & dry skin
Supplements For Menopause
By choosing botanicals and nutrients that support sex hormone axis production and balance in conjunction with HPA axis support. With vitamins and supplements helping out hormone levels function normally, estrogen supportive supplements can help the body support healthy estrogen metabolism and maintain the progesterone/Estrogen balance. Some of the supplements that help dampen the effects of menopause include:
- Kudzu Root
- DIM (Diindolylmethane)
- Grape seed extract
- Vitex Berry
- Black Cohosh
Kudzu root is a dried root that is located in Southeast Asia and is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. Studies have shown that this plant has antidipsotropic effects and can help treat alcohol abuse. Not only that but other studies show that it contains isoflavone compounds like:
- Puerarin: which is a major constituent
What this means is that these isoflavonoids can help with dampening the effects of cardiovascular diseases. Kudzu root has constituents similar to those found in red clover, soy, and black cohosh and can modulate the estrogen receptor while lowering testosterone aromatization in laboratory studies.
Kudzu Root Benefits
Some of the studies show that kudzu root can improve menstrual cycles while also improving metabolic syndrome. Kudzu root also is an antioxidant and with its anti-inflammatory properties can dampen inflammation. There are also animal and in vitro studies that support traditional uses of the kudzu root in cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and endocrine systems. Other benefits that the kudzu root has to offer include:
- Reduced cardiovascular risk
- Reduced estradiol
- Decrease aromatization of estradiol
- Increased SHBG in low SHBG women
- Decreased cancer risk; breast CA, uterine, prostate
- Improved bone density
- Improves skin thickness, wrinkling, dermal elasticity, collagen fibers
Found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or Brussel sprouts, diindolylmethane or DIM is a compound that is created when those cruciferous vegetables are being digested. This compound helps convert active estrogens into 2‐hydroxy estrogen metabolites vs. 4‐OH and 16‐OH in the body. Even though DIM may act as a weak estrogen hormone compound, it actually binds to the receptor and stimulates apoptosis via AMPK signaling in the body.
There are many beneficial properties that DIM offers the body. Studies show that DIM has potential benefits in treating respiratory papillomatosis while also modulating the activity of the xenobiotic receptor in the liver and intestines. Other benefits that DIM provide to the body include:
- Improves free testosterone levels
- Decreased risk of hormonally related cancers, including breast, prostate, and thyroid
- Boost weight loss
- Correct estrogen levels in men
- Reduce hot flashes
Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract or Vitis vinifera is from the actual grape seed that is the superior antioxidant and is the concentrated form of polyphenols known as proanthocyanidins. Studies have found since grapes are one of the most highly consumed fruits, the seeds from the grapes are highly rich in polyphenols. With these polyphenols, grape seed extract can help dampen the effect of cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, and supports vascular health since it’s antiatherogenic.
Grape Seed Extract Benefits
Studies have shown that there are many beneficial factors that grape extract provides for the body. Some of the benefits include:
- Treating cardiovascular diseases
- Improving bone strength
- Preventing skin cancer
- Anti-Candida activities
- Reduces the effects of hypertension
- Reduces diabetes
Vintex berries are found in Mediterranean regions and are used as a female tonic that helps support estrogen/progesterone balance in the female body. With its progesterone‐like activity, studies found that the vitex berry is useful clinically in PMS/Menopause symptoms and has a significant effect on the pituitary, binding to dopamine‐2 receptors, leading to inhibition of prolactin. With its apigenin flavonoid also binds to estrogen receptors in vitro.
Vitex Berry Benefits
There are early lab studies that reported that chasteberry stimulates the LH and inhibits follicle-stimulating hormone FSH. With the treatment with Vitex, there is a 93% reported decrease in
a number of symptoms or even cessation of PMS complaints. Other beneficial properties that the vitex berry offers include:
- Improving sexual dysfunction
- Dampen inflammatory effects
- Alleviate polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Treat infertility in both men and women
- Ease PMS symptoms
- Prevent epilepsy
- Reduce headaches
Black cohosh or Archaic Cimicifuga racemosa is a Native American botanical that is used worldwide for menopausal symptoms since 1956 (Germany, Remifemin). The black cohosh is a member of the buttercup family in North America. There are over 30 clinical studies, that show that 11,000 patients that take black cohosh help regulate inflammatory pathways in the body, and the mechanisms of black cohosh actions help menopausal and PMS symptom relief. Black cohosh is an antioxidant that has selective estrogen receptor modulators and provides serotonergic pathways that can help the body. There are also reports that black cohosh had a positive risk‐benefit in the ratio in patients that inhibit proliferation of estrogen receptor‐positive and negative human breast carcinoma cell lines by induction of apoptosis. Clinical studies also show that black cohosh is used for menopausal symptoms and can be used as a non‐hormonal treatment for vasomotor symptoms in climacteric women and in cancer patients.
Black Cohosh Benefits
Some studies indicated black cohosh’s functions are in a serotogenic manner that binds estrogen receptors and can selectively suppress and luteinizing hormone secretion without the effects on the follicle-stimulating hormone that is in the female body. Other benefits that black cohosh offers include:
- Supports breast and bone tissue
- Help improved symptoms of menopause
- Reduce musculoskeletal pain
- Support the nervous system
- Relieves arthritis and muscle pain
All in all, incorporating supplements and vitamins into a healthy lifestyle is crucial for hormonal health. When hormone levels start to naturally decline due to age, it can cause the body to be dysfunctional and later on cause unwanted health issues that can turn into chronic illnesses over time. By utilizing different supplements in the body, it can help alleviate those issues while also replenishing those lost hormones and making the body function normally.
Gupta, Madhavi, et al. “Grape Seed Extract: Having a Potential Health Benefits.” Journal of Food Science and Technology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30 Sept. 2019, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32180617/.
Keung, W M, and B L Vallee. “Kudzu Root: An Ancient Chinese Source of Modern Antidipsotropic Agents.” Phytochemistry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 1998, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9461670/.
Mohammad-Alizadeh-Charandabi, Sakineh, et al. “Efficacy of Black Cohosh (CIMICIFUGA Racemosa L.) in Treating Early Symptoms of Menopause: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Chinese Medicine, BioMed Central, 1 Nov. 2013, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4029542/.
Nordqvist, Joseph. “Grape Seed Extract: Benefits and Side Effects.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 22 Feb. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263332.
Peacock, Kimberly, and Kari M Ketvertis. “Menopause.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 29 June 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507826/.
Petre, Alina. “Which Benefits of Chasteberry Are Backed by Science?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 9 Aug. 2019, www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitex.
Pondugula, Satyanarayana R, et al. “Diindolylmethane, a Naturally Occurring Compound, Induces CYP3A4 and MDR1 Gene Expression by Activating Human PXR.” Toxicology Letters, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 3 Feb. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4568078/.
Rafieian-Kopaei, Mahmoud, and Mino Movahedi. “Systematic Review of Premenstrual, Postmenstrual and Infertility Disorders of Vitex Agnus Castus.” Electronic Physician, Electronic Physician, 25 Jan. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5308513/.
Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Menopause.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 14 Oct. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397.
Wong, Ka H, et al. “Kudzu Root: Traditional Uses and Potential Medicinal Benefits in Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Feb. 2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21315814/.
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