Among the areas of treatment women can try for relief of menopausal symptoms without resorting to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is homeopathy, a method of using highly diluted substances that actually cause the very symptoms for which they're used. Homeopathy is not new; it dates back to 1796 as a treatment philosophy.
The many hundreds of homeopathic preparations sold over the counter (mostly in health food stores) or by prescription may not show up better than a placebo in some clinical studies but have also shown some positive effect in others. While you can find sources on the Web that do not consider homeopathy a legitimate medical philosophy, millions of people around the world use these preparations for various ailments, and many do find relief.
What Is It?
Homeopathic practitioners use the term "remedy" to mean the substance, not necessarily a cure or even an agent of relief. The remedies are usually made from plants or minerals, have been regulated in the U.S. since 1938, and are considered natural and safe. They are drugs, not herbal supplements FDA regulates as food. Remedies might be formulated in soft or compressed tablets, medicated pellets, dilutions, or topical preparations (ointments, oils, and sprays).
The philosophy of homeopathy is "like heals like," meaning the body can heal itself using the very same treatment that would cause the symptom in a healthy person. This is similar to allergy treatments and vaccines in conventional medicine, in which a small amount of the offending substance or the impotent form of the virus is given to the patient. It is important to note, however, that homeopathic remedies are not recommended by the medical establishment for the treatment of serious diseases, such as cancer.
One Woman, One Remedy
Homeopathic health practitioners will not use the same remedy for all patients with the same symptom, such as hot flashes. They seek to match the woman's symptom with a "picture" of the symptom and the remedy. There might be several different remedies that can be used for hot flashes, for example, but trained practitioners will decide which one remedy is right for a particular woman based on how she presents.
In other words, if one patient is full of energy and another shows exhaustion from her menopausal experience, the remedy chosen will be different. "Each remedy has a certain picture," says Nancy White, a homeopathic nurse, "which has been and is constantly being observed in nature. Plants, animals, and substances all have characteristics of certain traits, which when exhibited in the human being match that which is in nature."
Let's look at some examples of homeopathic remedies used for menopausal symptoms. Lachesis, derived from snake venom, can help with both hot flashes as well as the insomnia a woman suffers from menopause. Calcarea Carbonica, also known as calcium carbonate, helps some women control night sweats, depression, and anxiety. It's made from the middle layer of oyster shells and pounded into a fine powder. Sepia is from the inky juice of cuttlefish and relieves some women's hot flashes, along with other menopausal symptoms.
If we look at the homeopath's "picture" of Sepia, as White explains, it is the kind of woman who has a dragged down sense; her energy is dragged down, she needs someone to encourage her to get up and move. Also her uterus or cervix could be drooping down, even out of the vaginal canal. We think of the structure of Sepia, the cuttlefish, which has a droopy sac out of which dark ink is squirted in times of either escaping or attacking enemy prey. Sometimes that's how emotionally women respond when being provoked during menopausal symptoms—attacking or retreating in a cloud of black ink!
Do Your Homework
Homeopathic products are another option to try for your hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms without the use of HRT. Although anyone can study the many homeopathic remedies and claim to be able to match the remedy with the patient, it would be wise to find a licensed practitioner who is trained to match you with a particular remedy. As always, you should be your own best advocate and do your homework before self-medicating with anything besides chicken soup. ♀
Resources for you: http://www.homeopathic.org/about