Use Herbs and Supplements for Natural Weight Loss

Use herbs and supplements for natural weight loss and treatment of amenorrhea, includes Q and A with leading natural health experts.

| May/June 2005

Use herbs and supplements for natural weight loss and treating amenorrhea, including evening primrose oil, Dong quai and green tea.

Use Herbs and Supplements for Natural Weight Loss

When I started nursing school a year ago, I was tremendously stressed out. I gained 30 pounds in one semester. Also, I developed amenorrhea. I’ve had that for more than a year. I still haven’t lost the weight—I am 5 foot 4 inches and 190 pounds. I am taking black cohosh, evening primrose and bladderwrack for the amenorrhea. I have always had a slow metabolism, so what can I do about my weight in addition to exercise and diet?
Valley Stream, New York

Keville responds: You certainly are on the right track and may already be taking at least part of the correct formula for amenorrhea (lack of menstruation). The tricky part is that a number of things can cause it and it’s difficult to know the source. It is a good guess that it’s associated with your stress level, which definitely influences hormones. Although more often connected with weight loss, amenorrhea can develop in women who carry excess body weight. If you’ve been on a strict diet to drop the extra pounds, that too can contribute. For one thing, hormones rely upon an adequate amount of cholesterol in the diet. An underactive thyroid can disrupt hormones and that’s probably why you’re taking the seaweed bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus).

I hope you’ve been checked by a doctor to rule out some of the other causes of amenorrhea, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, tumors and infection. Most commonly, the problem is hormonal imbalances, especially very low levels of estrogen. That’s where your use of black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) fits. However, you may be taking too little of the herb or haven’t allowed enough time — three to five months—for it to work.

Or, perhaps you need a better formula. Black cohosh isn’t considered an estrogenic herb and doesn’t directly increase estrogen in the body. Try vitex (Vitex agnus-castus), one of my favorite herbs to adjust menstrual imbalances. It helps the pituitary gland regulate female hormones and is especially helpful when menstruation stops due to an excess of the hormonal substance prolactin. It also makes the action of the hormone progesterone stronger by adjusting the ratio between estrogen and progesterone. Take at least three droppersful of tincture or four capsules a day. Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) can’t hurt and depending upon your situation, may indirectly help you achieve hormonal balance.

You may wish to go to an acupuncturist in addition to taking herbs. One who also practices Traditional Chinese Medicine will probably look for signs of “blood deficiency.” One important herb that builds blood and also promotes menstruation is dong quai (Angelica sinensis).

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