Natural Remedies for Menopause: What Really Works?

Memory Problems, Weight Gain, High Cholesterol, Vaginal Symptoms

Herbs are common menopause remedies. Mache Seibel

Women who want to avoid using estrogen therapy to treat their menopause symptoms do have choices that can be very effective. Here are suggestions for natural lifestyle approaches for memory problems, weight gain, high cholesterol and vaginal symptoms. 

Safety Note About Natural Remedies:

Always remember that natural does not mean safe. Many herbal, plant and dietary supplements interact with prescription medications or may have a negative impact on chronic medical conditions.

Before deciding to use alternative and complementary remedies for your menopause symptoms, check with your medical provider and read up on possible side effects and cautions for any remedy you are considering. Natural approaches are not risk-free, and the more you know, the better you can choose treatments that will keep you safe and well.

Memory Problems

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to recall a word or name, having it on the tip of your tongue, but not being close enough to come out with it. Forgetting where the car keys are or where you put your glasses can also drive you crazy as you get ready to leave the house. Sound familiar? Many women begin to notice memory glitches as they get in to perimenopause. It may be just the natural aging process, but there are things you can do to maintain your memory as you get older.

  • Green Tea

    Drinking green tea has been associated with many health benefits, including boosting the immune system and preventing cancer. Research is now beginning to link green tea with preventing enzyme activity that damages memory. It has few side effects and is readily available.

  • Adequate sleep

    In order to process memory tasks, your brain needs to have adequate sleep. Research seems to point to both short naps and longer naps to aid in memory function. If you can’t grab a cat nap during the day, though, pay special attention to getting enough nighttime sleep for memory problems.

  • Stress Management

    Stress is a major memory buster. If you are having trouble concentrating or remembering everyday things, pay attention to your stress level. Research has confirmed that even short-term stress can impact learning and memory. The menopause transition is at a time of life that may present major challenges, divorce, illness, parenting teenagers and aging parents to name a few. Taking care of yourself and reducing the stress in your life is a survival skill. Memory problems may be an early red flag that your stress level is climbing.

Weight Gain

Weight gain is also a frustration for women older than forty. The exact mechanism of estrogen’s role in metabolism is not clear. What is clear, though, is that many women who've never previously struggled to maintain a healthy weight, begin to have trouble during and after menopause. While there are no proven herbal preparations for weight loss, there are lifestyle and diet changes that can help you naturally curb the tendency to put on weight.

  • Stress management

    Stress, and more specifically producing the stress hormone cortisol, can interfere with your body’s ability to maintain weight. Keeping cortisol levels low will make it easier for your body to manage calories and fat metabolism.

  • Diet musts

    The menopause transition is a great time to take a look at your diet and make changes that will serve you through the rest of your life. As your metabolism slows and you begin to handle calories differently, you can revise your thinking to include a proper menopause diet that will set the stage for a healthy postmenopause.

  • Exercise

    Everyone knows that exercise is good for you. As you get into menopause, though, it becomes an essential part of your healthy life plan. Weight loss, of course, requires higher levels of activity. Since exercise also aids memory, mood, and bone health, however, it is truly an all-purpose approach to menopause wellness. Exercise is the one factor that can maximize your ability to manage your weight.

  • Sleep

    You may think that sleep would hamper your weight loss efforts, but actually, the opposite is true. If you are not getting enough sleep, it actually raises your risk of obesity. Adequate sleep resets your body and lets it recover from the stresses of your day. Your body works more efficiently in every way if you are getting the rest you need.

High Cholesterol

As your estrogen begins its decline in menopause, your cholesterol may begin to climb. Women soon become at the same risk of heart disease as men. You can help keep your cholesterol readings lower in some very natural ways.

  • Soy and red clover

    Soy protein has been shown to reduce total cholesterol readings and lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Red clover lowers triglycerides and seems to increase the “good” (HDL) cholesterol. It may be that these plant estrogens help take up the slack to protect your heart when your own estrogen begins to wane.

  • Whole grain oats

    Including whole grain oats in your diet can lower cardiac risk by reducing both total and LDL cholesterol levels.

  • Melatonin

    In addition to helping with sleep, melatonin may help raise levels of HDL cholesterol without raising overall cholesterol. This may prove to be protective for women with an increasing risk of heart disease. If you are taking melatonin for sleep, you may find your cholesterol benefits as a welcome side effect.

Vaginal Symptoms

Losing pleasure during sexual activity or beginning to leak urine are two complaints that women may have trouble bringing to their doctors. If you are having vaginal symptoms as you go through menopause, there are several things you may want to try:

  • Wild Yam Cream

    Creams derived from wild yam contain a phytoestrogen that, as with other estrogen creams, can work locally to help with symptoms.

  • Vitamin E and Flaxseed Oil

    The combination of vitamin E and flaxseed oil, taken orally or used directly on the vagina, can sometimes offer some relief from vaginal and urinary symptoms. Usually women take them as oral supplements, but there are creams that contain them as well to be applied directly to the vagina.

  • Kegel Exercises

    Kegel exercises may be used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and can improve sensation during intercourse and reduce urinary incontinence. If you do them several times a day, you will probably see results in 2 to 4 weeks.

  • Vaginal moisturizers and lubricants

    Although not technically “natural” remedies, vaginal moisturizers work for several days to make the vagina more elastic, and vaginal lubricants help reduce friction and pain during sex. Water-based products are unlikely to provoke an allergic response and are easy to find in drug stores.


    Boston’s Women’s Health Book Collective, Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause, Touchstone/Simon and Shuster, New York. 2006.

    Geller, SE, Studee, L, Botanical and Dietary Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms: What Works, What Doesn’t, J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2005 September; 14(7): 634–649. Retrieved 15 Aug. 2008.

    Geller, SE, Studee, L, Botanical and Dietary Supplements for Mood and Anxiety in Menopausal Women, Menopause. 2007 May-Jun;14(3 Pt 1):541-9. Retrieved August 15, 2008.

    Geller, SE, Studee, L, Soy and Red Clover for Midlife and Aging , Climacteric.. August ; 9(4): 245–263. Retrieved August 15, 2008.

    John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Whole Grain Oats May Reduce Risk Factors For Coronary Heart Disease. ScienceDaily. (2007, April 18). Retrieved August 17, 2008, from

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