Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Darlene
Posted on: October 5, 1999

I have just learned that I have entered menopause. I have just started ERT (estrogen replacement therapy) but I don’t feel good about it. I have been trying to educate myself about herbs hoping that I could go through this stage of my life naturally. I have been reading a book by Susun S. Weed called "Menopausal Years...The Wise Woman Way." This book recommends tons of different herbs to ease through, but it all becomes very confusing. What do you recommend? I am actually peri-menopausal. The author in the book highly recommended nettles many times. What is nettles and how do get them? I would appreciate any help you can offer.

Susun Weed’s book is a good resource for menopause, as are others that I have recommended in previous answers. (Please go to our website at, and then go to the "Q&A" area and search for menopause). I do recommend keeping these books on hand to provide explanations for what is happening to your body, why it is happening and for recommendations for specific health problems.

In general, in the menopausal years, we want to decrease the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis and ease menopausal symptoms by avoiding hormonal swings. The most important factors here are diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors that can increase a sense of well-being and decrease the symptoms of stress.

The diet should be high in fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) in the diet help to ease the symptoms of change: soy products, oats, corn, wheat, apples, almonds and cashews. Spicy foods, alcohol, emotional stress and hot beverages may exacerbate hot flashes. Avoid alcohol, sugar, white flour, refined and processed food, salt.

Foods and herbs rich in essential fatty acids will moderate cardiavascular disturbances (flashes, flushes, sweats), strengthen the liver, keep energy high and the heart healthy: Evening Primrose Oil, oily fish, nuts, pulses (e.g. lentils). Deficiencies may be caused by alcohol, margarine, purchased salad dressings, refined vegetable oils. Calcium-rich food and herbs promote a deeper sleep, more even emotions and stronger bones.

Calcium-rich foods for bone health, to prevent osteoporosis and hot flashes, include seaweeds, fish, yogurt, milk products, tofu, almonds, sesame, broccoli, kale, watercress, parsley, horsetail, chickweed, dandelion greens. Vitamin D (from daily sunlight) helps absorption.

Regular daily exercise decreases the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.

The particular combination of herbs for menopausal women depend on specific symptoms. These symptoms and herbal remedies are well described in all of the recommended books.

Nettle (Utica dioica) grows in waste places, and the leaves are gathered in spring and early summer. Fresh nettles can be steamed and eaten as a vegetable. Dried nettles are available in health food stores, and be made into a nourishing tea by steeping 2 - 3 teaspoons in boiling water for 15 minutes. Nettle can be used as a "tonic" herb in the menopausal years to nourish and strengthen the whole body, to improve circulation and add vitamins and minerals to the diet.

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