A hysterectomy causes immediate menopause due to the drastic reduction of estrogen, the female hormone for reproduction. Estrogen stimulates cells in the heart, breasts, bladder, brain, liver and bones and keeps the skin smooth and moist; therefore, lack of estrogen increases the chances of several health problems involving these organs. Certain dietary and herbal supplements are commonly used as alternatives to estrogen supplements; however, these supplements are not replacements for traditional medication and should only be taken under medical supervision.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Dietary Estrogen Supplement Alternatives
Certified nutritionist Phyllis Balch reports that essential fatty acids, vitamin E and melatonin are used as alternatives. They help the body produce estrogen, possibly decreasing menopause symptoms such as:
- bone loss
- heart disease
- mood swings
Take essential fatty acids in unheated, liquid form. Do not exceed 200 IUs of vitamin E if you take a blood thinner. Take the recommended daily dosage if you have rheumatic heart disease, an overactive thyroid or diabetes. Slowly increase a 100 IU dose to the desired amount, if you have high blood pressure. Take melatonin supplements not more than 2 hours before bedtime, if you do not have a weakened immune system.
- Certified nutritionist Phyllis Balch reports that essential fatty acids, vitamin E and melatonin are used as alternatives.
- Take melatonin supplements not more than 2 hours before bedtime, if you do not have a weakened immune system.
Herbs That Relieve Hysterectomy Side Effects
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Balch recommends anise, licorice, dong quai, and red clover for menopause. Anise strengthens the liver and moistens the skin. Licorice, dong quai and red clover may relieve hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings and forgetfulness. Avoid dong quai if you have diabetes, are sensitive to light or take Warfarin. Avoid licorice if you have diabetes, glaucoma, high blood pressure, heart disease or a history of strokes. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine funded studies on the effects of dong quai and red clover 23. Additional studies are needed to determine if these herbs are actually effective. Meanwhile, the NCCAM acknowledges there is a slight possibility dong quai and red clover may bring relief. Consult your OB-GYN before taking any of these herbs for information regarding safety, dosage and possible drug interactions.
- Balch recommends anise, licorice, dong quai, and red clover for menopause.
Herbs That Contain EFAs
Fennel and fenugreek contain essential fatty acids, the substances that improve brain function, skin and hair, while they help prevent bone loss and heart disease. A lack of these same health benefits is directly related to menopause symptoms such as mood swings, confusion, osteoporosis, vaginal dryness and cardiovascular disease. Balch warns that fennel suppresses the appetite. She also states that fenugreek can cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. These herbs are not intended as a substitute for traditional medical treatment.
- Fennel and fenugreek contain essential fatty acids, the substances that improve brain function, skin and hair, while they help prevent bone loss and heart disease.
- She also states that fenugreek can cause gas, bloating and diarrhea.
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Balch recommends sage and wild yam also. Sage may reduce hot flashes and sweating; however, it interferes with the absorption of certain minerals, including iron. Also, it should be avoided if you have seizures or high blood pressure. Wild yam might improve the sex drive. Still, there is not enough scientific evidence that supports these claims about sage and wild yam.
- Balch recommends sage and wild yam also.
- Still, there is not enough scientific evidence that supports these claims about sage and wild yam.
The NCCAM has also funded studies on the effects of DHEA, a natural body substance that converts to estrogen and testosterone. As a supplement, it may decrease hot flashes and increase sexual arousal, though random trials do not show these benefits. There is not enough scientific evidence showing all of the risks, effects or benefits of long-term use of DHEA supplements, though some studies have shown that high doses of DHEA supplements cause liver damage. Some doctors are concerned that these high doses can also suppress the body's natural ability to produce DHEA. Gather additional information about this product from a health care professional before using it.
- The NCCAM has also funded studies on the effects of DHEA, a natural body substance that converts to estrogen and testosterone.
- There is not enough scientific evidence showing all of the risks, effects or benefits of long-term use of DHEA supplements, though some studies have shown that high doses of DHEA supplements cause liver damage.
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- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Balch, CNC, Phyllis; 2010
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Menopausal Symptoms and CAM; January, 2008
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Herbs At A Glance; July, 2010
- Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Penn State Hershey. Dong quai. Reviewed March 25, 2015.
- Botanical Online. Properties of Dong Quai. Updated March 19, 2019.
- Chao WW, Lin BF. Bioactivities of Major Constituents Isolated From Angelica Sinensis (Danggui). Chin Med. 2011;6:29. doi:10.1186/1749-8546-6-29
- Wen Y, Li J, Tan Y, et al. Angelica Sinensis Polysaccharides Stimulated UDP-sugar Synthase Genes Through Promoting Gene Expression of IGF-1 and IGF1R in Chondrocytes: Promoting Anti-Osteoarthritic Activity. PLoS One. 2014;9(9):e107024. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107024
- Zhuang C, Wang Y, Zhang Y, Xu N. Oxidative stress in osteoarthritis and antioxidant effect of polysaccharide from angelica sinensis. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018;115:281–286. doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.04.083
- CancerNetwork at Oncology Online. Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis). Published January 20, 2011.
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dong Quai. Updated February 14, 2019.
- Yue GG, Wong LS, Leung HW, et al. Is Danggui Safe to be Taken by Breast Cancer Patients?-A Skepticism Finally Answered by Comprehensive Preclinical Evidence. Front Pharmacol. 2019;10:706. Published 2019 Jun 25. doi:10.3389/fphar.2019.00706
- MedlinePlus, National Institutes of Health U.S. National Library of Medicine. Dong Quai. Reviewed July 24, 2019.
Jazzy Joyner is a retired educator who started her career as a poet and creative writer in high school. She majored in English in college and graduated to become a language arts teacher. She edited a school newspaper while teaching adult education. Joyner holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Wayne State University.