Embrace the Change
Photography by: Pornchai Mittongtare
Symptom HOT FLASHES
Solution SAGE (Salvia officinalis)
How to use it: Steep one tablespoon dried sage in one cup of hot water for 15 minutes or longer to make a tea; strain and cool. Drink up to three cups a day. If you don’t like the taste, put the tea into a spray bottle (after it has cooled completely) and spritz it on your neck.
Why it works: “Sage has been passed down from generation to generation in Western herbal tradition as the surefire cure for hot flashes,” explains Sheila Kingsbury, N.D., of Bastyr University in Kenmore, Wash. It’s such an effective astringent that it has been approved in Germany as a treatment for excessive sweating for both women and men. “Sage was also used in Native American cultures to clear negative energy so it may help ease some of the irrational fears that can cycle through your head during perimenopause,” says herbalist Margi Flint, author of The Practicing Herbalist (EarthSong Press).
Solution VALERIAN (Valeriana officinalis)
How to use it: Take two 500-milligram capsules one hour before bedtime as needed.
Why it works: Many studies have affirmed the safety and efficacy of valerian for treating garden-variety insomnia—a common problem during perimenopause. “It works in the same way that Valium or Xanax does, but the effect is much milder. There is no hangover afterward nor any risk of addiction,” says Kingsbury. There’s just one catch: “It’s a reliable sedative for most people, but a small percentage will get jazzed up instead,” she cautions.
Contraindication: Do not take valerian if you’re taking any kind of prescription sleep aids.
Solution ASHWAGANDHA (Withania somnifera)
How to use it: Take two 500-milligram capsules two times every day.
Why it works: In Ayurvedic tradition, ashwagandha is the great revitalizer, says Ayurvedic practitioner Will Foster of Knoxville, Tenn. “It’s an adaptogen that helps balance out scattered energy, which means that when stress or hormonal changes leave you feeling drained, ashwagandha can help fill up your tank.” The herb means “smell of horse,” a nod to the strength and vitality of horses, says Foster. “Take ashwagandha when you need to boost your horsepower.” It also may increase your sex drive.