A Herbal Alternative to Hormone Replacement Therapy

Noting the University of Oxford research published in the Lancet today that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) increases the risk of ovarian cancer the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) draws attention to research published in the journal Family Health of trials that show menopause symptoms can be treated safely and effectively by medicinal herbs (see: http://fampra.oxfordjournals.org/content/24/5/468.abstract?sid=ac553b88-7bb9-41df-a146-0be2a1d4e1ad ).

Other new research undertaken by the international Cochrane Group and published today has found that there is also a small increased risk of blood clots and possibly stroke for women on HRT. (see: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD002229.pub4/abstract;jsessionid=

In addition to this, a top advisor to the government on keeping woman over 50 in the workplace has warned that many women going through the menopause are being forced out of work by employers who do not understand the challenges brought on by this life changing event. Dr Ros Altmann said the impact of the menopause is largely ignored in the workplace with many women choosing to either go part time or leave their jobs altogether rather than struggle on.

NIMH’s Director of Communications Dee Atkinson said:  “Between about 40 and 52 years of age most women will experience the menopause. During the menopause ovarian hormone levels decline, leading to a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. These include not just the better known hot flushes but also loss of confidence, nervousness and mood swings. Symptoms can precede the cessation of a regular period, often presenting as a marked increase in pre-menstrual symptoms.

“Increasingly women are understanding more about HRT and its potential side-effects, and many prefer to use natural therapies at this time.

“Herbs can provide a gentle and effective approach to the menopause, supporting the hormonal and nervous systems. Many medicinal herbs and foods contain ‘phyto-oestrogens’ which can be used to enhance the body’s hormonal status. These phyto oestrogens provide the body with their starting point for manufacturing its own hormones, helping to balance fluctuating hormonal levels. The herbs employed by medical herbalists when working with individual patients help to maintain a healthy hormonal system.”

The Lancet article:  http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2961687-1/abstract


The National Institute of Medical Herbalists is the UK’s leading professional body representing herbal medicine practitioners.

First established as the National Association of Medical Herbalists in 1864, today the National Institute of Medical Herbalists has more than 700 members across the UK and beyond.

The Institute promotes the benefits of herbal medicine and oversees the provision of the best patient care through the work of its members.

NIMH members undergo a lengthy training programme before they can register as qualified medical herbalists. Practitioners train for at least three years and adhere to a strict code of conduct before they can gain MNIMH or FNIMH after their name. Recently qualified practitioners will have taken a BSc in Phytotherapy (herbal medicine). All NIMH-registered herbalists are fully insured, and follow a strict code of conduct.

NIMH-registered medical herbalists are trained in the same diagnostic skills as mainstream doctors but take a more holistic approach to treating illness. Herbalists treat a wide range of acute and chronic conditions and frequently work in collaboration with GPs and consultants to achieve the best combination of treatments for individual patients.