The Best Post-Menopausal Herbs from Chinese Medicine - Root + Bones

The Best Post-Menopausal Herbs from Chinese Medicine

It’s deeply inspiring to see a lot more conversation centering awareness about—and support for—the perimenopause and menopause stages, but what about the era that follows? The post-menopausal period begins when there have been twelve moons without menstrual bleeding, an end to (or meaningful reduction of) menopause symptoms, and decreased production of sex hormones. Since the entire duration of a woman’s life after menopause is considered post menopause, we would be wise to also generate awareness about holistic support for this more substantial chapter, which is best initiated as preventive care during the time of transition.  


While the post-menopausal period, called the Second Spring in TCM, can be beautiful in many ways, there are certain physiological concerns that can compromise a woman’s quality of life during this time. Osteoporosis is one of the most common risk factors women face following menopause, correlated with lower levels of estrogen. The decrease in bone mass and bone mineral density leads to structural changes and brittle bones, but thankfully there is a rich tradition of tonic herbal support, now corroborated by promising modern research.


Deer Antler Velvet is a renowned longevity tonic that exhibits profound regenerative qualities, including the preservation of the bone marrow, which otherwise degenerates with time. As one of the best Kidney and Jing (essence) tonics, it is highly replenishing to our most foundational and primal energetic reserves; indeed, the depletion of Jing is crucial to a TCM understanding of difficulty not only in the aging process, but in menopause specifically. Amazingly, modern research has shown that Deer Antler Velvet can actually reverse osteoporosis in subjects induced with menopause through ovariectomy, evaluated by markers like bone weight coefficient, bone mineral density, bone mineral content, and bone microarchitecture. 


Eucommia is another highly prized Kidney Jing tonic herb with a long history of use in maximizing the quality of life for elders through support of the skeletal structure, including healthy joints and ligaments. It strengthens tendons and sinews, helping to repair damage and promotes elasticity of joints, thus helping to prevent injuries. However, it’s also been shown to support both the prevention and mitigation of post-menopausal osteoporosis specifically. It has exhibited preventive effects on estrogen deficiency-induced osteoporosis in laboratory studies, indicating great value during the peri- to post-menopausal periods. Eucommia has also been shown to effectively suppress the loss of bone mass, with evidence suggesting it has a positive effect on osteoblasts (cells that form new bones and grow/heal existing bones). 


During and following the transition to menopause, women are at greater risk of experiencing sleep disturbances. This can also be attributed to hormonal changes, including lower levels of estrogen, with insomnia affecting an estimated 50 percent of post-menopausal women. Of course, sleep is crucial to the body’s reparative processes, such that sleep deprivation can have a detrimental cascade effect on overall health and quality of life. TCM’s sedative herbs have been studied extensively for both effectiveness and mechanism detection, and it has been deduced that these herbs have a balancing effect on neurotransmitters like GABA, dopamine, serotonin, and 5-HT, thus supporting regulated sleep cycles. Most of these herbs—namely Polygala, Albizia, Reishi, and Jujube Seed—are all found in our Shen blend. Schizandra is another renowned sleep aid that has also been specifically found to be highly effective for menopausal symptoms like dysregulated sleep cycles, hot flashes, sweating, and heart palpitations. 


Cognitive impairment is also connected with compromised sleep, and though it’s extremely beneficial for all elders to protect against neurodegeneration, a majority of women seem to experience some degree of menopause-related cognitive issues. Research shows that Tremella is a wonderful choice for relieving subjective memory complaints and enhancing cognitive function. As a Yin Jing tonic, it can be understood as helping to restore balance between Yin and Yang energies in the body; indeed, estrogen is a Yin sex hormone, while Jing is intimately connected to the root of all Yin and Yang energetics. Of course, TCM deems balance between Yin and Yang as crucial to the cultivation of vibrant health. It is no coincidence that this beloved mushroom has also long been revered by East Asian women for its longevity and anti-aging properties.  


In Chinese tradition, preventive medicine is primary care and it’s never too early to begin cultivating balance and resilience. Because tonic herbs are safe for regular use and each offer such a wide variety of benefits, intentionally incorporating them into our daily lives can offer robust support through all of life’s transitions.