Concerns over an increased risk of cancer when taking hormone replacement therapy have worried many women.

Technically speaking, if you are only replacing what your body is not producing, there should not be any increased risk. However, if we believe the body's tissues change as we grow older and become more sensitive, or their response to hormones changes, the risk may be greater in some women.

A lack of oestrogen can cause hot flushes, mood changes, early ageing of skin, dry vaginal conditions, osteoporosis and a disturbance in libido. Having said that, many women go through the menopause without much problem.

What can you do naturally to help you through the menopause? Firstly, a well-balanced diet and regular exercise can keep your body's hormonal glands function for longer. Many food items such as soya, tofu, broccoli, yams, beetroot, turnip and nuts contain natural oestrogens which can help.

Yoga and meditation or t'ai chi can help to rebalance the energy flow in the body, stretch muscles and ligaments, improve circulation, calm the mind, maintain good energy balance and help the libido.

According to ayurvedic medicine, everyone is different in body type and will, therefore, require different exercises to suit.

A thin, hyperactive lady whose main symptom is anxiety and restlessness (Vata type) should prefer gentle stretching and Yoga exercise. A fiery body type more prone to anger, red skin and burning sensation (Pitta type) should prefer swimming and running.

A person who is more watery and earthy, with a tendency to gain weight and suffer from water congestion or heavy depression (Kapha type) needs to have more vigorous exercise to mobilise the lymph and fat and to open up the channels of energy flow in the body. This also helps alleviate mood swings and depression.

Some herbs and spices, such as black pepper and sage, stimulate the hormonal system, improve circulation, help mobilise water congestion and elevate mood. Try drinking Asmita's ginger, black pepper, nutmeg and cardamom tea to lift you.

Fennel, liquorice, agnus castus and basil all contain plant sterols which can help rebalance the hormonal system.

Natural progesterone made from wild yam (vidari) is quite popular in France and has proved helpful for many of my patients.

Other ayurvedic medicines which I have prescribed for menopausal symptoms include ashwagandha (withania somnifera)

for moods, anxiety depression and libido and asparagus racemosus, a cooling herb, rich in plant sterols, which helps relieve hot flushes.

Clinical research has proven that the leaves of Brahmi (centella asiatica) contain an alkaloid which helps relieve anxiety and enhances memory, which is often affected during menopause.

Dr Milind Jani works as a conventional and
holistic GP and Dr Asmita Jani as Ayurvedic Consultant from 3 Eaton Gardens, Hove.

Call them on: 01273 777448 or email: