World Menopause Awareness Day is held on the 18th of October every year to raise awareness of the health issues faced by women during and after the menopause. In the lead up to this year’s event, it is an ideal time to take a closer look at the causes and symptoms of the menopause and how a hidden element of the humble hop flower might be able to help ease some symptoms.
What is the menopause?
The menopause is a natural part of ageing for women, normally occurring between the ages of 45 and 65, when their periods stop for good. It is triggered by a natural alteration in the balance of sex hormones in the body, in particular oestrogen. Also known as the second puberty, the menopause is an important stage of women’s life but one which is mainly associated with the various complaints and distresses it can cause.
What are the symptoms of the menopause and can they be treated?
Vasomotor symptoms (VMS), such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, and fatigue, are the most common menopause symptoms affecting about 50% to 80% of middle-aged women. These symptoms, resulting from oestrogen deficiency during menopause, can exert negative effects on women’s health and quality of life and thus need to be managed through medical treatments such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Oestrogen deficiency is associated with complaints that may increase the risks for both illness and early death, including increased cognitive changes and osteoporosis. For this reason, HRT for menopausal women seems the most appropriate answer. However, HRT comes with its own set of risks and potential health conditions, which you can read about on the NICE website here.
Common mood changes that menopausal women may experience include irritability, nervousness, anxiety and depression. Mood changes often go hand-in-hand with poor sleep and fatigue, and night-time symptoms certainly contribute to this.
Is there a natural way to support your health during the menopause?
During the past decade, growing attention has been paid to the use of herbal medicines or complementary therapies for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.
Many herbal treatments for menopausal symptoms contain hops (Humulus lupulus L.). Within hops there are components such as 8-prenylnaringenin (8-PN; a potent phytoestrogen), 6-PN and isoxanthohumol (two well-known flavanones), and xanthohumol (a prenylated chalcone). The high oestrogenic potency of 8-PN has the ability to interact with oestrogen receptors and therefore is an attractive choice for menopause sufferers. For this reason, it must be avoided by anyone with an oestrogen receptor positive disease or cancer.
The healing power of the humble hop…?
Hops have been known for their calming abilities for centuries. This is thought to be partly due to the xanthohumol it contains, which induces mental and physical wellbeing*. Hops containing terpenoid, flavonoid glycoside and catechin are widely used to treat tension, headache and sleep disorders (through impact on the central nervous system), activating the stomach and appetite.
Despite their confirmed benefits, the mechanisms through which hops relieves menopausal symptoms are not clearly understood. Considering the possible negative effects of HRT, flavonoids extracted from hops can serve as a useful complementary treatment for the alleviation of some problems during the menopause. Keen to give it a go? Why not explore our high-quality Xanthohumol supplement ‘Hops & Dreams’ here.
*ESFA Article 13.1 botanicals on hold list