These time-tested natural menopause remedies have been passed down from generation to generation around the world. Now, as it turns out, research proves their efficacy! Here are five natural (and global!) menopause cures for annoying symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, recurrent UTIs, low libido, and more.
Tame hot flashes with soy.
Women from Japanese families report fewer menopausal hot flashes than Americans, suggests a UMass study. A possible reason? A Japanese diet often includes a lot soy-rich foods like edamame and miso. Soy’s phytoestrogens may offset a hot flash–triggering drop in estrogen; as a result, some women find that eating a diet high in phytoestrogens helps tame their menopausal symptoms. (Note: Japanese-Americans also report fewer symptoms of many conditions as compared to people from other ethnic groups, so this finding should be taken with a grain of salt.) A study in Menopause additionally found that eating a low-fat, vegan diet and soybeans reduced the hot flashes of participants significantly. To get your soy fill, try eating a handful of dry roasted edamame or a cup of miso soup daily.
Nix vaginal dryness with yams.
Women in West Africa have used yams, a native staple in their cuisine, to ease vaginal dryness. Although there isn’t much research supporting this folkloric claim, a clinical trial with results published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that replacing two thirds of a staple food with yam for 30 days improved the status of sex hormones, lipids, and antioxidants in participants. Study authors say these effects might reduce the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular diseases in postmenopausal women; plus, vaginal dryness in menopause is often caused by low hormone levels, so potentially increasing your levels with some yams can’t hurt — and they’re pretty tasty, to boot!
Speed-heal UTIs with hibiscus.
Hibiscus flowers grow in the Polynesian Islands, but their beauty isn’t their only purpose — they might also be plucked and brewed to improve urinary health during menopause. In a trial conducted by French scientists, the tropical flowers’ gossypetin (a flavonol) appeared to be effective at blocking bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract and bladder walls, cutting the risk of cystitis and recurrent UTIs.
Reverse a low libido with licorice.
The ancient Indian practice of eating licorice could help restore the higher levels of desire you had before menopause. A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine found licorice may increase arousal; additionally, the results of a study published in International Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine showed that the use of licorice vaginal cream had a positive effect on increasing the symptoms of sexual desire, lubrication, satisfaction, orgasm, pain relief, and arousal in participants. Credit may go to licorice’s phytoestrogen sterols, which mimic the body’s own sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone). One to try: Panda All Natural Soft Licorice (Buy from Amazon, $5.65).
Try the ginseng all-body solution.
A study published in The International Journal of Biomedical Science found taking 500 mg. of Peruvian ginseng (also known as maca) twice daily helped diminish symptoms such as night sweats, anxiety, and low libido for participating perimenopausal women. Maca may cut down the stress hormone cortisol that spikes with menopause, and it might also increase the production of symptom-taming estrogen and progesterone. One to try: NOW Foods Maca (Buy from Amazon, $29.99).
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.