Fatigue commonly impacts women going through menopause. Fatigue is characterized as recurrent and ongoing feeling of tiredness, exhaustion, and lack of energy. Fatigue has a wide range of causes. Herbal remedies can be used to treat menopausal symptoms like fatigue.
What Causes Fatigue?
Fatigue can happen to anyone, but it tends to impact women more than men, and the people affected by it tend to be in their 40's and 50's. Although it is hard to tell what role menopause and hormonal changes play in fatigue, it is clear that fatigue disproportionately affects women going through menopause.
Causes of fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome
Fatigue is a general word used to describe feeling tired and exhausted. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition where a person is chronically tired and exhausted. Chronic fatigue syndrome also has other symptoms such as sore throat, sleep disorders, headaches, feeling unwell after physical exertion, body pain, and memory problems. Doctors are unsure what exactly causes chronic fatigue syndrome.
However, not all chronic fatigue is caused by chronic fatigue syndrome. Fatigue can have many causes, including:
- Over-exercise or a sedentary lifestyle
- Not getting enough sleep
- Some medications, such as antidepressants
- Poor diet
- Anxiety, stress, depression, or grief
Fatigue can also be a symptom of some medical conditions, such as:
- Thyroid disorders
- Kidney, lung, or liver problems
- Sleep disorders
It is important that if you have any of these conditions that you talk to your doctor to find a treatment plan that is right for you. Self-medicating, even with herbal supplements, can interfere with the medicine that your doctor is already prescribing to you or have unwanted side effects.
Herbal Remedies for Fatigue
Some women who are going through menopause find they are able to relieve their fatigue using herbal remedies and supplements like phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating supplements. Some women find that these supplements also relieve other symptoms caused by menopause as well.
Phyestrogenic herbal supplements
These supplements, the most well-known of which is black cohosh, contain phytoestrogens, which are plant-derived estrogens. These compounds may help treat hormonal imbalances caused by menopause because during menopause, the body produces less estrogen, and plant estrogen may help replace this loss.
These supplements may help treat fatigue and other symptoms caused by menopause. Their use is based in historical and traditional beliefs. It is thought that they work by nourishing the glands that produce hormones.
Some herbs used to treat fatigue, underlying causes of fatigue, or symptoms of fatigue include:
Ginseng. Ginseng has a long history of health benefits in Chinese medicine and is a phytoestrogenic plant, which contributes to why it is used by women to ease menopausal symptoms. Ginseng is used to help the body protect itself from disease and stress. It is usually not used as a medicine to treat a specific condition, but rather to help the body overall.
Ginkgo. Ginkgo is also part of Chinese traditional medicine and preliminary studies show it may help treat Alzheimer's, memory loss, and reduced blood flow in the legs. Ginkgo also contains antioxidants.
Echinacea. Echinacea has been a traditional part of Native American medicine. It is commonly used to fight the common cold and activate the immune system.
Gotu kola. Gotu kola has been used for thousands of years in India, China, and Indonesia to help heal wounds, treat anxiety, and treat insomnia.
Vervain. Vervain has many traditional uses in cultures around the world. It is often associated with the divine and supernatural.
Fatigue ranges from a minor concern to a serious problem that interferes with daily life. Herbal remedies are natural options to help manage menopausal symptoms like fatigue. These herbal remedies may help you, but they are still active compounds that have side effects, so it is important to talk to a doctor before you start taking one.
- Bruton-Seal, J. & Seal, M. (2009). Backyard Medicine. New York: Skyhorse Publishing.
- National Center of Alternative Medicine. (2012). Menopausal Symptoms and Complementary Health Practices. Retrieved August 13, 2014, from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/menopause/menopausesymptoms
- National Health Service UK. (2013). 10 medical reasons for feeling tired. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/tiredness-and-fatigue/Pages/medical-causes-of-tiredness.aspx
- National Institutes of Health. (2014). Fatigue. Retrieved August 13, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/fatigue.html
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2013). Gotu kola. Retrieved August 13, 2014, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/gotu-kola