(Natural News) Menopausal symptoms can be very unpleasant, and many women end up undergoing hormone replacement therapy to find some relief. Now, however, researchers have found a very attractive and far safer alternative in the form of flax seed.
Women of menopausal age face all sorts of symptoms, which are collectively referred to as menopausal syndrome. This can start well before menopause actually occurs. During perimenopause, women might have irregular menstruation, but it’s not really considered menopause until menstruation has stopped for more than a year. Nevertheless, women can face symptoms during this time such as mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and joint pain.
These symptoms are believed to occur as women’s ovaries start to produce and secrete less estrogen as they get older. This can also happen to men – although their symptoms tend to be far less severe – as they, too, produce estrogen to some degree in their body through the conversion of testosterone.
HRT isn’t the only option
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) entails taking a medication that contains the hormones the body stops producing during this time. While many women are steered toward this path by their doctors, it’s not the only way to address menopausal syndrome. Phytoestrogens, or estrogens that occur naturally in plants, can also help alleviate the menopausal symptoms caused by a reduction in estrogen. Turkish researchers recently examined one of the best natural sources of phytoestrogens, flax, and they found that it can be incredibly effective.
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The researchers divided 140 women who last menstruated more than a year ago into four different groups. In the first two groups, the women consumed five grams of flax seed per day, which is roughly half a tablespoon, over three months. One of these two groups also received informational training about menopause, while the other did not.
The third group underwent hormone replacement therapy that consisted of 2 mg of estradiol hemihydrate and 1 mg of norethindrone acetate daily for three months. A fourth group was a control group that did not receive any treatment.
All of the participants were given tests at the beginning and end of the study using the Menopause Rating Scale and the SP-36 Quality of Life Scale. The former measured the intensity and frequency of several common menopausal issues.
After analyzing the participants’ scores on the tests, the researchers determined that the groups who had consumed the flax seed noted fewer and less intense menopause symptoms. The control group noted an average increase in symptoms of 7 percent, while the groups taking flax noted a decrease of nearly 10 percent, which means taking flax seeds every day improved symptoms by as much as 17 percent compared to the control group. Those who took hormone replacement therapy noted similar benefits, but there are also side effects to consider.
Quality of life lower among those using HRT
In fact, it was the quality of life scores that best illustrated the superiority of flax over HRT despite the similar improvements in symptoms. The quality of life scores for those in groups 1 and 2 (flax and flax plus menopause information training) rose from 38.93 to 49.00 and 38.63 to 41.69, respectively. Meanwhile, the quality of life in the HRT group dropped from 37.29 to 34.65, while quality of life also went down for the control group. In other words, while quality of life for those taking flax rose, it fell even further in those on HRT than it did in those who did nothing at all.
The side effects of HRT include headaches, nausea, intestinal irritation and vaginal bleeding, not to mention a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, greater inflammation, and a higher risk of breast cancer.
Flax is a great, natural way to address menopause symptoms without putting your health at risk. In fact, it can have the opposite effect, providing a generous amount of omega 3 and DHA to protect your body from free radical damage and related diseases. Why take on the dangerous effects of hormone replacement therapy when flax will do the job just as well?
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