I was delighted to attend a lecture on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) recently given by a GP colleague who works in gynaecology.

It was refreshing to hear the clinical evidence and feedback from women taking natural products containing phytoestrogens natural plant estrogens and progesterones.

Many women taking natural hormone therapy have had great relief from distressing symptoms like hot flushes, headaches, irregular periods and mood swings, while avoiding the side effects of synthetic HRT.

However, it must be stressed that hormone replacement pills have dramatically changed the life of many women going through very distressing symptoms,such as severe depression,irri- tability,dry vagina and uncontrollable sweating making their life more bear- able or even enjoyable again.

The downside of synthetic hormone replacement is the slightly increased risk of thrombosis,high blood pressure, weight gain and cancer (after prolonged use over ten years).

Natural plant estrogens found in soy and all its by-products, including tofu and miso, flax seed oil, linseed, bran, yam and various herbs avoid these problems.

Miso the Japanese preparation of fermented steamed rice mixed with steamed soya beans, salt and water allowed to age under natural conditions is a particularly easy source. Herbs, spices and roots, which have been found to benefit women who have taken them, include red clover, ginseng root, ashwagandha root, shatavari (asparagus racemosus root), celery, fennel, licorice, anise and rhubarb.

One Ayurvedic preparation for the natural management of menopausal symptoms is Kumari asav made from aloe vera juice processed in the extracts of other herbs.Wild yam preparations have been reported to contain enough progesterone to give relief of menopausa symptoms.

Having a balanced diet, rich in greens and avoiding very rich foods, smoking and too much alcohol also has many advantages on the hormonal function.

A simple daily yoga work out, meditation, and brisk walking may just get your body and mind tuned to the change so that it does not react!

How on earth did millions of women in India, South America and Africa survive centuries of menopausal years, we wonder?