Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy

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Once women heard hormone replacement therapy may increase a woman's risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke and blood clots, many scrambled to their physicians for other options to treat menopausal symptoms.

Women's health experts say small changes in a woman's diet, medications, and even their environment can help treat hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings and other symptoms. But herbal supplements such as black cohosh and phystoestrogens like tofu and soy products are also alternative treatments.

Both herbalists and physicians agree for patients to get the most benefits out of any alternative treatment, they should always have open communication with all their health care providers.

"People should always let their physicians know if they're taking anything besides prescriptions, whether it's vitamins, herbs, or supplements. People should also let their herbalists know what prescription they're on. The best healthcare people can get is when all providers are communicating," Jeff Gould, Chinese herbalist/acupuncturist.

"It's always wise to bring whatever you're taking to your health care provider and have them look at it and see what's in it and where it's from and the type of quality," dr. Thomas Petroff, Ob-Gyn.

Some natural remedies may have adverse reactions and can lead to high blood pressure or complicate healing from surgery. The best piece of advice is to examine the alternatives and keep those lines of communication with your healthcare providers open.

Avoid: caffeine, alcohol, spicy & greasy foods, cigarettes

Eat more fruit, vegetables and soy.