How do you cope with hot flushes and other uncomfortable menopausal symptoms if you can’t, (or don’t want to) use conventional therapy options? Like thousands of other women you may be turning to the vast array of complementary therapy options.
While herbal remedies may successfully help thousands of women with varying symptoms of menopause, naturopath and herbalist Sandra Villella from the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health is urging women to only use herbal therapies prescribed by a qualified or trained practitioner. Ahead of national herbal medicine week, Ms Villella is speaking out about the common myths and misconceptions that exist around herbal and other complementary therapies.
“Complementary and herbal remedies are really important for a lot of women with menopausal symptoms,” she said. “But to ensure appropriate use it’s important that any therapy be taken under careful supervision by a practitioner trained in their use.”
Herbal medicine is the oldest form of healthcare in the world, used by many cultures and indigenous groups. It forms part of what is commonly referred to as ‘complementary’ therapies. And with their growing worldwide popularity in Western countries, their role alongside conventional medicine needs to be better understood.
Ms Villella is keen to bridge the gap of understanding between complementary therapies and conventional medicine to help people achieve true complementary health. “It’s important for all health practitioners to work together to make a difference to the wellbeing of people in our communities,” she says, adding, “This includes our physical and emotional health.”
With Australian women becoming aware of the positive effects that healthy eating and regular physical activity can have on their health, especially at midlife, Ms Villella acknowledges that while these recommendations on their own may not totally alleviate the symptoms of the perimenopause, they usually help a woman feel better in general and therefore better able to cope with her symptoms.
“Healthy eating and regular physical activity are of great benefit for the body and mind, irrespective of the therapy path women choose.”
Key myths about Herbal Medicines
- It’s natural, so it must be safe. It’s important to understand that just because a drug or supplement is labelled as ‘natural’ does not mean it’s any safer than a drug or supplement that was created in a lab. Don’t buy over the counter – always see a trained practitioner. And remember, all medicines, whether conventional or complementary, can have side effects so make sure you tell your GP and any other health practitioner that you may be seeing about all medicines and supplements that you’re taking.
- I have to choose between taking conventional or herbal medicines as you can’t combine them. Herbal medicines are part of what is commonly referred to as ‘complementary’ therapies – that is, they add to, or supplement, other medicines.
- Research available therapy options.
- Choose credible and trained practitioners.
- Tell your doctor about any supplements you are taking to avoid interactions with other medicines.
- Tell your complementary therapist about any conventional medicines that you are taking.
To find out updated evidence-based informaton about complementary therapies go to www.jeanhailes.org.au
To help find a trained practitioner you can call the National Herbalists Association of Australia on 02 8765 0071 or go to www.nhaa.org.au