Perimenopause consists of the three stages of menopause: pre-menopause, menopausal transition, and early post-menopause. This transitional time has been known for some pretty interesting symptoms throughout the ages and these symptoms can seriously affect your life. Some of the most notable symptoms of this time include hot flashes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, fatique, weight gain (especially in the abdomen and thighs), vaginal dryness, increased need to urinate, insomnia, dry skin, and emotional changes such as mood swings or even mild depression. Sounds pretty awful, right? Underneath it all, these symptoms are just your body responding to the changes in hormone production. With a few changes in your diet, a few supplements, and a new mindset, perimenopause doesn’t have to be all about decline. This time can be an awakening as women take back their power in a whole new way.
There are plenty of herbs that can help balance stress levels and help us adapt to these new changes. These herbs are called adaptogens and some adaptogens work especially well for perimenopausal symptoms. We talked about adaptogens in the last article on Rhodiola. Adaptogen herbs can lower stress on the body, which helps with adrenal function. Adaptogens make you less prone to physical and emotional stress.
While there are a good handful of these herbs out there, I’d like to start by introducing you to four of my favorites.
Tulsi Ocimum sanctum
Tulsi, quite possibly, is my favorite adaptogen. Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries upon centuries as a tonic and to help countless, specific health. Science is also catching up with this concept. Over the years, Tulsi has been the subject of much research and many of its traditional uses are appropriate still today. While I could simply discuss the benefits of this wonderful herb all day, I’ll keep it short and sweet.
Tulsi helps to support the immune system and reduce inflammation. This is a great benefit for women going through hormonal shifts, such as those that happen during perimenopause. It also helps to reduce fatigue and anxiety, improve blood pressure and blood sugar, and it can help prevent and/or treat adult acne. Relaxing with a cup of Tulsi tea can help support the adrenals and reduce stress, all of which contribute to those pesky shifting moods that tend to happen with perimenopause. You can consume this herb by itself or add it to your favorite blend. Try brewing a cup of You Me and Uni’s Meditative State of Mind tea with a pinch of Tulsi.
Ashwagandha Withania somnifera
Ashwagandha is another important herb in Ayurvedic medicine and has often been called Indian Ginseng. This herb has a long history of use in many Ayurvedic formulas that help both the body and the mind and may well be one of the most researched herbs in recent history. Though it shares a common name, Ashwagandha is not at all related to Ginseng. However, it does share some of the same benefits.
Ashwagandha has been shown to work both physically and psychologically to help balance out stress hormones, reducing symptoms of anxiety, and generally improving the mood. Speaking of “the mood,” this herb can help improve sexual function in both men and women. In women, it helps increase libido, reduce vaginal dryness, and decrease pain during intercourse. Though one of its best uses may be to help improve memory and reduce the brain fog so many women complain of during perimenopause. Since the most beneficial part of this herb is the root, it may be best taken as a capsule or a tincture, though a nice tea is not out of the question.
Maca Lepidium meyenii
Maca may be an unfamiliar name for many of you. This plant is commonly grown as a food crop and is closely related to broccoli, kale, and beets. In Peru it is often called Peruvian Ginseng and is used in traditional medicine. Like Ashwagandha, Maca has no relation to Ginseng, but it, once again, does share some of the same benefits.
Maca root has traditionally been used to help improve stamina and strength while normalizing energy levels. As an adaptogen, it helps balance out stress hormones and generally improves mood. Maca has been used to help balance and improve the mood of perimenopausal women as well as to support a healthy libido. It can also help maintain a healthy blood pressure level and reduce hot flashes. Though one of the most important uses of this herb, for perimenopausal women, is to help maintain balanced hormone levels. Since this is considered to be a new superfood, the most common way to find Maca is in powder form where it is often used to add into smoothies or mixed with Matcha powder and milk, and then served as a warm or cold drink.
Licorice Glycyrrhiza glabra
Licorice may be the most familiar name in this list. Known as the predominant flavor of a favorite childhood sweet and one of the best ways to get children to take their medicine. However, Licorice is also an amazingly useful little herb. It can be made into a sweet syrup and used as a cough syrup to help break up mucus in the lungs. It can be added to virtually any herbal formula to sweeten it. But above all, Licorice is an adaptogen.
Licorice has almost as many traditional uses as Tulsi, so I won’t list them all here. Instead, I will focus on the biggest use of this herb for perimenopausal women, hot flashes. Yes, this little root can help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes, if used regularly. It has been the subject of a handful of scientific studies focused on just this one topic, and most of these studies have had positive results. It works especially well when combined with Red Clover, which is another herb that is great for perimenopause, though it is not an adaptogen. If you want to read more about Red Clover, check out this previous post. Many people prefer to add Licorice to their tea, and You, Me, and Uni happen to have a tea blend with Red Clover already in it, Know Your Gut Trust Your Gut. Simply add a slice of licorice root to this tea when you brew it, and you’ll help improve those perimenopausal hot flashes. However, this one comes with one caution. In some people, Licorice can raise blood pressure, so be careful if you are prone to high blood pressure issues.
Perimenopause is a time of transition, for your body and your mind. If you are experiencing any of the common symptoms, there is natural help available to make symptoms more manageable. But above all, you should trust your body to do what it is meant to do and help ease the stress of this transition with a cup of tea.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden
Writer and Editor in Gainesville, FL
Owner of Walden Writes For Women