Q: What do you recommend for menopause-related symptoms?
A: I presume that the symptom you are referring to is the dreaded hot flash. It’s typically the symptom that’s the most annoying and disruptive to the daily routine.
Some simple lifestyle changes have been shown to help with hot flashes including incorporating a regular exercise program into your daily routine and avoiding spicy foods.
From a natural remedies standpoint, black cohosh has often been recommended. One large study indicated that this herbal supplement was no better than placebo in terms of eliminating symptoms but many women say it works for them. The side effects of black cohosh include dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, and occasional gastric discomfort. Additional possible side effects include headaches, seizures, vomiting, sweating, constipation, low blood pressure, slow heartbeats, weight problems. All of these side effects are rare and the supplement is generally very well tolerated. The most serious side effect is liver dysfunction. You should always let your physician know if you are taking or considering taking an herbal product.
If the menopausal symptoms are severe enough that you are considering pharmaceutical interventions, a class of medications typically used to treat depression called SSRIs, will help increase the amount of serotonin in your system and may help alleviate hot flashes. Lastly, you could consider the short-term usage of estrogen replacement
Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.
Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.