Menopause: Expert says phytoestrogens and cannabis help manage symptoms amid HRT shortage

Davina McCall celebrates HRT prescription changes

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Such is the nature of the crisis that the government has appointed a HRT tsar to fix the issue, but campaigners say not enough is being done and so far the biggest change has been the rationing of HRT medication.

As a result, women are looking for ways to alleviate their menopausal symptoms or find ways to replace their oestrogen in other means.

One way, said Menopause Experts CEO Dee Murray, is through the consumption of phytoestrogens.

Naturally occurring plant-based compounds, Mr Murray said “they mimic our own, they’re the vegetable oestrogen”.

Although normally these oestrogens wouldn’t normally be absorbed, because a menopausal woman is so low in oestrogen Mr Murray said “the oestrogen receptors in our body are more able to attach themselves”.

Phytoestrogens can be found in a number of foods including soy, flax seed, chickpeas, nuts, and seeds.

While effective at helping add oestrogen to the diet, Mr Murray cautioned: “This isn’t going to be in the same quantity as HRT but it can be naturally replaced and make you feel a whole lot better.”

Mr Murray added: “We just need to look at balancing out of our lifestyle and diet, especially for women who can’t get access to HRT.”

Alongside a dramatic fall in oestrogen levels the menopause also causes a range of symptoms including:
• Hot flushes
• Night sweats
• Difficulty sleeping
• Reduced sex drive
• Problems with memory and concentration
• Vaginal dryness
• Headaches
• Mood changes
• Heart palpitations
• Joint stiffness, aches, and pains
• Reduced muscle mass
• UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections).

Some of these symptoms, said Mr Murray, can be alleviated with a form of cannabis known as CBD.

He described CBD as a “good natural alternative for women who perhaps cannot take HRT.

“It may help with mood, keeping them calmer, helping with anxiety, so there are lots of ways CBD oil can help”.

Symptoms of the menopause is latest in a extending line of medicinal issues cannabis has been found to help.

In the past medicinal cannabis has been found to help patients with chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer, and anxiety.

Mr Murray added cannabis can help in this regard too, by alleviating stress levels and reducing the likelihood of hot flushes and night sweats, but cautioned: “[CBD] not a magic bullet, it’s not going to cure menopause.”

Nevertheless, evidence suggests cannabis and phytoestrogens – two naturally occurring remedies – could help thousands of women currently suffering.

Work by campaigners, magnified by the HRT shortage, has resulted in a long overdue conversation about menopause finally starting.

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