Menopause is a natural stage in a woman's life when she stops menstruating and is no longer able to conceive. Menopause brings with it an array of symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness, to name a few. While Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a popular option for managing these symptoms, many women are looking for natural alternatives due to concerns over potential side effects.
What are the best Chinese herbs for menopause?
The most commonly used Chinese herbs for menopause are actually combinations of herbs that work synergistically to rebalance and harmonize the body. These herbal formulas include Er Xian Tang, Geng Nian An 1, Geng Nian An 2, Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan, Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, Xiao Yao San, and Gui Pi Tang.
Before we explore each formula in detail, let’s discuss Chinese medicine’s view on menopause.
How Does Chinese Medicine View Menopause?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), menopause is seen as a natural transition that can be supported and balanced through the use of Chinese herbal formulas and other natural approaches.
According to TCM, menopause is often associated with a deficiency in yin energy. Yin is the energy that represents the aspects of the body that are moisturizing, cooling, calming, restorative, and is associated with nighttime. When yin energy is depleted, an overabundance of yang energy occurs. Yang, which is warming and active in nature, and is the complementary opposite of Yin, becomes dominant. This is why we see more heat and activity-dominant symptoms in menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and irritability.
Kidney Yin Deficiency in Menopause
To get even more specific, a deficiency of kidney yin is most often linked to menopause.
Depending on a person’s constitution and health history, this kidney yin deficiency may be coupled with other imbalances. This might explain why some women experience severe menopausal symptoms, while others have mild to no symptoms.
It’s important to note here that the kidney system in TCM includes much more than just the actual organs of the kidneys. From Chinese medicine’s point of view, the kidneys are also associated with development, growth, reproduction, aging, and overall vitality.
How can Chinese Herbal Medicine help those going through Menopause?
Chinese herbal medicine for menopause aims to support the body's yin and yang energies, thereby regulating hormonal imbalances.
This holistic approach focuses on addressing both the root cause of the imbalance, as well as the menopausal symptoms themselves, with the aim of achieving lasting relief.
Exploring 8 Chinese Herbal Formulas used for Menopause
So, why are there so many different formulas for menopause relief?
This question gets to the art and science of Chinese medicine. The reason for this abundance of formulas for a single "condition" (for lack of a better term), is that each formula addresses a specific pattern of disharmony.
Each pattern is thus matched up with the appropriate formula to address the underlying imbalance, while providing relief from symptoms.
These varied patterns also demonstrate why it is essential to consult with a qualified practitioner of TCM when seeking out Chinese herbs for menopause relief!
Let’s explore these eight herbal formulas now:
Er Xian Tang: Two Immortals Decoction
Er Xian Tang is a classic herbal tonic that replenishes kidney yin and yang, tonifies kidney jing (or essence), purges deficiency fire, and regulates the Chong and Ren.
This formula is prescribed by TCM practitioners for individuals with a thready, rapid pulse and symptoms that may include headache, ammenorhea, sweating, irritability, insomnia, UTI, heart palpitations and hot flashes.
Geng Nian An 1 (MenoPeace) - Peaceful Menopause
Geng Nian An 1 is a modern Chinese medicine blend that is used primarily for maintenance during menopausal years. It designed to stabilize the results achieved from Geng Nian 2.
TCM practitioners prescribe Geng Nian An 1 in individuals with deficiency of kidney Yin and excessive liver yang with symptoms including hot flashes, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and other related issues.
Geng Nian An 2 (MenoPeace 2) - Advanced Peaceful Menopause
MenoPeace 2, a modification of MenoPeace 1, is intended to provide targeted relief for menopause symptoms that may be frequent and/or acute in nature, including hot flashes, moodiness, and insomnia.
TCM practitioners prescribe Geng Nian An 2 in individuals with excessive liver Yang and heart Fire, and kidney Yin deficiency.
Liu Wei Di Huang Wan: Six Flavor Rehmannia
Liu Wei Di Huang Wan is one of the most famous herbal formulas in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It's typically used to nourish kidney and liver Yin and is often used for symptoms of Yin deficiency, distinguished by its nourishing properties for kidney and liver.
Often recommended by TCM practitioners for both menopausal and non-menopausal symptoms, Liu Wei Di Huang Wan is a versatile formula that may also be good for those with low back pain, five-center heat and frequent urination.
Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan: Anemarrhena and Phellodendron Rehmannia
Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan is essentially Liu Wei Di Huang Wan with the addition of two herbs to specifically clear heat. It’s used for Yin-deficient heat patterns, distinguishing its function as an enhanced heat-clearing formula.
TCM practitioners recommend Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan when more signs of heat are apparent. These include night sweats, flushed face, low-grade fever, dry mouth and hot flashes.
Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan: Emperor of Heaven's Special Pill to Tonify the Heart
Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan is most often used in cases of heart and kidney being out of sync, resulting in insomnia, forgetfulness, and palpitations. Its unique attribute lies in its use for harmonizing heart-kidney imbalances while nourishing the blood and calming the spirit.
A notably large formula, Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan contains 15 herbs and is often prescribed when insomnia is prevalent.
Xiao Yao San: Free and Easy Wanderer
Xiao Yao San is a famous formula used for Liver Qi Stagnation with underlying Blood Deficiency, usually resulting in symptoms like frustration, mood swings, or irregular menstrual cycles. Its distinguishing property is its effect on liver Qi stagnation.
While this formula is not primarily used for those going through menopause, Xiao Yao San and its modification, Jia Wei Xiao Yao San have been the subject of research suggesting efficacy for perimenopausal syndrome.
Gui Pi Tang: Restore the Spleen Decoction
Gui Pi Tang is frequently used for symptoms related to spleen Qi and heart blood deficiency, like insomnia, anxiety, low appetite, and chronic fatigue. Its differentiating factor is its main focus on balancing spleen Qi and heart blood deficiencies.
Gui Pi Tang has been the subject of a multicenter retrospective study which highlights the formula as one of the most commonly prescribed treatments for menopausal disorders with insomnia. Additional symptoms that make Gui Pi Tang an excellent choice include emotional disturbances, mood swings, and forgetfulness.
Safety and Side Effects of Chinese Herbs for Menopause
Each of these herbal formulas for menopause are generally regarded as safe for most individuals. However, as with any herbal supplement, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider before introducing a new herbal product or supplement.
Your practitioner will also consider any potential interactions with other medications or supplements you may be taking. Pregnant individuals and those with kidney disease or high blood pressure should exercise caution and seek professional guidance before using any Chinese herbal formula.
Mild digestive symptoms may occur with Chinese herbal formulas, but adverse effects are generally transient, such as minor gastrointestinal discomfort.
Precautions and Interactions
When using Chinese herbal formulas for menopause relief, it's important to exercise caution and be aware of potential interactions with other medications. While these formulas are generally safe, patients should disclose all herbal formula use to their healthcare provider.
Is there a Natural HRT?
You may be searching for a natural hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or alternative to HRT.
While HRT and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) share a common goal of alleviating the symptoms of menopause, TCM differs in its fundamental ideas about health and longevity. Using a holistic, time-tested approach, TCM seeks to facilitate a healthy transition throughout menopause, while supporting long-term health and wellness.
We highly recommend working with a qualified healthcare professional or TCM practitioner to create a comprehensive menopause management plan tailored to your individual needs.
However, we’d like to share a few lifestyle tips to support health and wellness during menopause.
Lifestyle tips for alleviating menopause symptoms
- Dietary Modifications: Include foods rich in phytoestrogens, such as soy products, flaxseeds, and legumes, which may help balance hormone levels. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can also reduce hot flashes and night sweats.
- Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, yoga, or swimming, to improve overall well-being and reduce menopause symptoms. Exercise can help manage weight, improve mood, and promote better sleep.
- Stress Management: Practice stress-reducing techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or mindfulness to alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation.
- Supplements: Consider adding supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and calcium to support bone health and overall wellness during menopause. However, always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.
- Quality Sleep: Create a relaxing bedtime routine and ensure a comfortable sleep environment to improve sleep quality. Avoid electronic devices before bed and establish a consistent sleep schedule.
Remember that these lifestyle changes should complement your menopause management plan and not replace it.
We hope you've enjoyed learning about Chinese herbal formulas for menopause, and how they can offer a natural and comprehensive approach to managing menopausal symptoms.
By addressing the underlying imbalances in the body, notably kidney yin deficiency, Chinese herbs can potentially support hormonal balance, boost energy levels, promote better sleep, and enhance mental clarity.
For those seeking time-tested approach to managing menopausal symptoms, Chinese herbal formulas can provide much relief while helping improve overall well-being during menopause.
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This article is provided only as an educational resource - it is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, and the herbs and/or formulas within are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases. This information is intended for only licensed healthcare practitioners.