Herbs and Estrogen Replacement
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Kate Johnson
Posted on: April 4, 1998

I have taken estrogen for the last eight years prescribed from my gynecologist. After reading literature about the patch I have on my on free will wean myself off of it. I told my physician but not the specialist. I take, regularly, 1000 mg of calcium daily, and I drink 4-6 glasses of water daily. Could you kindly reply back with some answers on estrogen replacement and herbs high in calcium?

We encourage consultation with a health practitioner who is fully knowledgeable of your health history and can follow your progress as you make changes in your therapy. Considerations in deciding against HRT are the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis . Note that in conditions where ERT and HRT are contraindicated, such as in fibroids, where increased estrogen encourages fibroids to grow, plant hormones (described below) may also be contraindicated. We offer the following information for support in your research.

Estrogen Replacement Therapy(ERT) and Hormone Replacement Theory(HRT) are given to counteract the effects of a decrease the amount of estrogen and progesterone released in the menopausal years. Some of the symptoms that are associated with menopause ar e hot flashes, emotional instability and osteoporosis. Studies have shown that there is a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease in estrogen users, but an increase in the risk of endometrial cancer, biliary disease and breast cancer.

Rosemary Gladstar in "Herbal Healing for Women" (available at Richters) and Susun Weed in "Menopausal Years" (Ash Tree Publishing, 1992) describe nutritional, herbal, and exercise therapies that can minimize menopausal symptoms, reverse osteoporosis and support the heart.

Calcium rich foods will decrease the risk of osteoporosis. These include tofu, salmon, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, seaweeds, milk products, almonds, sesame seeds, watercress. Herbs containing high amounts of calcium are Horsetail (Equisetum arvens e), Nettle (Urtica dioica), Dandelion leaves (Taraxacum officinale Herba), Oats (Avena sativa). Utilization of calcium in the body is increased with Vitamin D, found in alfalfa, nettle and salmon, and decreased with coffee, white sugar, tobacco & al cohol and in diets with excessive salt. The daily calcium requirement is 1500 mg per day, which can be achieved by dietary means. See the Q&A entry "Herbs High in Calcium" (Past Questions and Answers) for additional information.

Herbs containing phytosterols, or plant hormones, can encourage estrogen production in the body to help relieve menopausal symptoms. Susun Weed includes a list of 30 herbs that may be helpful for hormone balancing, including Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga race mosa) which she states has been proven to be as effective as ERT in relieving symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances and irritability, Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis), Red Raspberry leaf, and Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca).

The risk of heart disease can be minimized by lifestyle changes, particularly by eating a low fat diet, exercising regularly, keeping the blood pressure low, stopping smoking, losing excess weight. Support for these lifestyle changes are offered in Susun Weed’s "Menopausal Years". Examples of herbal support are Hawthorn berries (Crataegus oxyacanthoides) to strengthen the heart, garlic to strengthen the heart and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and lemon balm as a tea, steeped in wine or made int o a salad vinegar.

Whether HRT or herbal therapy is used, it is equally important that a healthy diet and regular exercises for a strong body and peaceful mind are included in your daily routine.

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