Hormone replacement therapy can carry many risks. There are natural alternatives that may be as effective.
Natural Options for HRT
There are natural and alternative treatments for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Soy, with phytoestrogens, act like estrogen. Food sources of soy include soymilk, soy nuts, tempeh, and tofu. They could help with hot flashes that come with menopause. There are also herbs that have phytoestrogens, such as wild yam, black cohosh, valerian root, and dong quai. Eating a healthy diet, exercising, quitting smoking, reducing stress, yoga, meditation, and losing weight can also ease symptoms of menopause.1 The essential fatty acids in flaxseeds and hormone-balancing lignins can also work on menopausal symptoms. Lignins are also anti-cancer agents, and they have both estrogenic and anti-estrogen properties. Eating two tablespoons of flaxseeds a day can be as effective as HRT for sweating and hot flashes. In the case of soy, it is best to consume it as food, instead of in supplements. Soy, being high in copper, will need to be balanced with more zinc in the diet. Copper toxicity symptoms are weight gain around the belly, irritability, fluid retention, hair loss, depression, and short attention span. Evening primrose oil, which has the GLA essential fatty acid, is not only good for PMS, but it can work in menopause to relieve hot flashes and produce serotonin. Serotonin makes the brain “feel good”. Black currant seed oil also reduces menopausal symptoms. Multivitamins, including vitamin B complex and vitamin E, as well as magnesium (and calcium) can improve mood swings and sleep. Progesterone cream is also available in a bio-identical and natural form. This cream, applied to the throat area, can assist the thyroid, improve the sex drive, boost adrenal production, reduce fatigue, and balance blood sugar. Exercise and dietary changes are also crucial. Exercise should include resistance training, bone-strengthening, and aerobic exercise. The diet should include whole foods, whole grains, vegetables, unprocessed carbohydrates, and healthy fats.2 Other estrogen-like foods are fenugreek, ginseng, licorice, and gotu kola.3 Vitamin C and probiotics can also be helpful during menopause. Vitamin C assists in vitamin E absorption and acidophilus can prevent yeast infections and help metabolize estrogen.4
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is prescribed for symptoms in men such as depression, fatigue, weight gain, and decreased libido. Some patients may opt for natural alternatives to medications. DHEA is a supplement that is a “precursor to other hormones, including testosterone”. L-arginine may help with erectile dysfunction (ED), and cranberry is often used in conjunction with this. Cranberry is beneficial to prostate and urinary tract health, as well. Panax ginseng is an herbal supplement thought to treat ED and improve stamina, energy, and blood flow. Other available supplements include Maca, Horny Goat Weed, Muira Puama, Catuaba Bark, Tribulus Terrestris, Tongkat Ali, and Ashwagandha. As with all supplements, it is important to talk to a healthcare professional about side effects. Dietary changes and exercise are also important to men’s health.5 For men and women, massage therapy can reduce stress, and regular chiropractic care can work to improve the body’s holistic well-being. Both kinds of therapy can boost energy and mood.6 Chiropractors can also recommend dietary and exercise programs.7