Sage: The little green leaf of hope in a sea of hot flashes?
As a sit here at my desk, looking out at the September sun I'm sipping a wee cup of green tea. No, not actual Green Tea of antioxidant fame, but a lightly tinted green tea brewed freshly after a quick pluck from the sage bush that sits pride of place in my rather sad looking herb garden.
My herb garden was needing a bit of green fingered good lovin' and yesterday I had myself a little rage-against-the-weeds that were infiltrating slowly but assuredly across my herb garden. Some new herb-tastic additions are on their way but my foray into all things green gave me food for thought when it comes to hormonal balance.
You see, I turned 43years last week and it felt rather more momentous than usual. I'm really not sure why, other than the fact that I spend a great deal of my time researching, supporting and discussing all things peri-menopause for my clients and it seems like that time may soon be upon me also? As a former Nurse Specialist I'm keen to avoid the assumption of the menopause as a disease than needs a prescription pad, an empathetic head tilt and a stiff upper lip but rather I'd like to view it as a natural part of every woman's health journey; where biological and physical changes (in terms of ovarian function) can be anticipated, understood and effectively managed with sensitivity to one's wider life (i.e. stepping out of that Zoom meeting due to a puce face ain't really an option folks). So that brings me back to the Sage - and indeed sage advice.
Sage has long been recognised for it's role in supporting the perimenopausal vasomotor symptoms that present as hot flashes and night sweats. Whilst not immediately life threatening the disruption in sleep quality has a knock on effect to cognitive function and mood whilst the hot flashes impact on many aspects of daily life, often causing stress and social discomfort at a time when women are busy spinning the many plates of raising kids, caring for aging relatives, progressing in their chosen career and (if she's lucky) some sort of social jollies.
I'll often suggest to clients that we eat foremost with our eyes and nose; so in fact pausing to pinch some sage leaves from the garden is a great way to start that mindful moment. Cooking with sage is a lovely way to add flavour and texture to food whilst adding a handful of leaves to hot water offers a tasty alternative to our usual black cuppa. In fact limiting caffeine intake to one cup a day and swapping out for a herbal alternative is one of my first go-to suggestions when working with peri-menopausal women as excess caffeine can have a negative impact on our adrenal glands (where stress hormones are made); further driving up anxiety and stress.
However this ancient plant performs well in clinical trials also; a 2011 multi-centred study of 71 women experiencing five or more hot flushes a day found half the women experienced a significant decrease in symptoms over 8 weeks whilst taking a daily supplement of fresh sage leaves. After a further four weeks the frequency of hot flashes decreased further for 64% of the women and severe hot flashes stopped altogether; with no adverse side effects noted. Similiar results have been replicated with symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, panic, fatigue and poor concentration improving for 30 perimenopausal women supplementing with 100mg sage extract over 4 weeks in a 2019 study. Further adding to the sage cheer-leading were a team of researchers studying 100 women in a double blind study (where neither the study subject or researcher know what the subject is taking) who reported 100mg of sage more effective than the palcebo (sugar pill) in significantly reducing duration, frequency and intensity of night sweats and hot flashes; making it a viable adjuvant or alternative to HRT.
So it apears a trip to your local garden centre for some Salvia Officinalis (sage) might be worth a punt? Alongside supporting dietary changes that focus on a low Glycaemic load, hormone balancing, nutrient dense diet I often call on a few firm favourites of supplements to further support my clients, each chosen dependant on need. If I'm thinking of sage, I'm a fan of BioCare Female Balance blend with other supportive phyto-oestrogens, and I'm experimenting with Nutri-Advanced MegaMag Peri-Meno that combines a healthful blend of much needed magnesum, B-vits and VitC alongside our herbal friend; with both these companies offering Sage advice to anyone wishing to discuss their needs. As always if you're not currently working with a Nutritional Therapist I recommend checking in with your Pharmacist or Doctor to ensure any supplementation is aligned with current medications or heath conditions.
If you feel ready to take action on your peri-menopausal health and well-being then please do reach out and book a complementary consultation with Pam.
Sending you love and light until next time,