In short, Yes!
I’m currently 44 and for the last year or so I’ve been feeling like I’m suffering from some perimenopausal symptoms. Not enough to warrant talking to my doctor about HRT but enough to make me look for some answers and find some help.
Having opened up the conversation within Forza Fitness, talking very open and honestly with pretty much all my female clients, it’s clear a lot of feel the same way. We might be experiencing different effects, we might be different ages but we’re all looking for things we can change to help us with this period of hormonal chaos.
I had a lot of people who’s voices I trust talking about herbal adaptogens so I decided to explore this avenue as they were all saying how this has helped.
I’ve been taking Ashwagandha and Schisandra now for over 7 months, as they were the two best suited to help me with my particular symptoms, and I can honestly say they have been the answer for me. I am under no illusion that further down the line I may need to look seriously at HRT and if that time comes, trust me, I will not hesitate, but for now this is enough and I feel like myself again.
As your oestrogen levels decline your stress levels increase which in turn upsets your mood and concentration – brain fog was a big one for me for sure – I have, in the past, even forgotten my own post code!
To help your body combat this stress, you can introduce adaptogens. Herbal adaptogens work by increasing your body’s resistance to stress and they do this by targeting the neuroendocrine system that controls your reaction to stress and regulates multiple bodily functions such as mood, temperature control, immunity and digestion.
Taking adaptogens means that over time, they build up in the body and block your cortisol response. This means you experience less stress.
Here’s the low down on the three different herbal adaptogens that have come up most often in my research:
Ashwagandha increases your DHEA testosterone, which helps lower anxiety and cholesterol. It also improves insulin sensitivity meaning you’ll better blood sugar control and less prone to storing fat.
Research on athletes has shown that it can help increase endurance and power.
It is also an anti-inflammatory so can help reduce soreness after those tough workouts.
It has also been known to help regulate body temperature so can help reduce hot flashes.
Recommended Dose: 250 to 300mg twice a day (tablet)
Contraindications: Can affect your T3 and T4 thyroid hormones so those on thyroid medication should avoid.
Schisandra is widely used in Chinese Medicine and is commonly known as Five Flavoured Fruit.
It is is the adaptogen for brain fog as it stimulates the central nervous system and improves cognition. This means it can clear the fog and help with your concentration and focus.
It helps strengthen your mitochondria (where energy is created in the cells) so it can improve aerobic capacity.
Finally it can help regulate fluctuating hormone levels and reduce hot flashes.
Recommended Dose: 500mg to 2grams a day (powder)
*I add mine to my morning coffee
Caution: It has a caffeine like effect increasing alertness so can disrupt sleep. It best taken in the morning and avoided in the afternoon / evening.
Maca Root is often referred to as Peruvian Ginseng and is a hormone modulator. It also works as a steroid hormone so is a powerful herb!
It helps improves the onset of night sweats, hot flashes.
It can increase mood and help overcome the onset of anxiety and/or depression which are common during perimenopause.
Research has found it can improve energy levels as well as mood and some people describe Maca as giving them a natural high.
It also has anti inflammatory properties so can help reduce muscle soreness after workouts/
Recommended Dose: 450mg three times a day (tablet)
Contraindications: Can affect adrenal and thyroid function so those on thyroid medication should avoid.
Some products containing Maca are also on the WADA banned substance list so if you are a competing athlete subject to drug tests either avoid or be 100% the product you are taking is ok.
***Please remember I am not a doctor. The information shared here is purely for general information purposes. It is not medical advice.