The Rhubarb about Menopause

| September 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

Rhubarb is a wonderful, old fashioned, garden product featured in classic cook books for strawberry rhubarb pie, pickled rhubarb stems, cookies, casseroles and more. In home remedies, the root has been used for thousands of years as a reliable laxative and detoxifier for liver, gallbladder and colon complaints. It was recorded in cultivation in Siberia in the year 2700 B.C. as part of their “Materia Medica.” Marco Polo brought it to Britain in the 13th century, where it became part of the monastery herb gardens. At that time, it was worth more than opium and ten times the cost of imported, exotic cinnamon or saffron. Initially, only the roots were used, and the leaves and stalks ignored. In the 1700s that changed and the focus moved to culinary uses. Today, you have to look hard to find Rhubarb root in commerce.

This focus on edible parts is now changing. Use of the root as a remedy is coming back, this time in a new form. One of the varieties of rhubarb, rheum rhaponticum, has been studied for its ability to mitigate the symptoms related to menopause and peri-menopause. The extraction process used eliminates the bitter elements , anthro-quinones, that cause the laxative action. What they have left is termed “E Rr 731”. This stands for estrogen receptor type “r”. We, both women and men, have estrogen receptors all over our bodies, controlling every imaginable function. Some estrogen receptors have mild action, others stimulate dramatic changes. To get an idea of how many types of receptors there are, consider that the “r” is arrived at after you have gone through estrogen receptors “alpha,” “beta” … etc. The ER r731 has been identified as the receptor that causes all the symptomatic havoc such as hot flashes, joint pain, mood swings, memory/concentration problems, anxiety, insomnia and even osteo-porosis.

It is completely true that lifestyle, diet and body composition have a lot to do with how much estrogen is circulating in the body and hence, how much is docking with E Rr. It has been demonstrated since 1993 in Germany that use of the rhubarb extract “E Rr731 “ can reliably and selectively block the target estrogen receptor sites to prevent the symptoms of menopause. And before we dismiss these symptoms as simply an annoyance to be tolerated, consider that research has shown that women with the most hot flashes (15-20 a day) are also at high risk for heart disease. In fact, during a hot flash, the intensity of the hot flash can impair the vasodilation capacity, making blood pressure go up and increasing the risk of blood clots. The frequency of hot flashes is also correlated to reduced bone mineral density and increased joint inflammation. You can consider the hot flash to be a neon sign trying to get your attention about danger ahead.
So, anything that can really treat the cause of menopause symptoms is an important health tool.

The extract has been in public use and continued study for the last twenty years in Europe, with a great safety profile, both short term and long term, with no noted side effects. This cannot be said for our usual routine of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Siberian rhubarb can be used a tolerable way to wean off of HRT.

This Siberian rhubarb extract is becoming available to us in the U.S. It is the main ingredient in a product called Estrione at and other merchandisers can be found online. It is important to be careful when looking for the extract to be sure that you are getting the E Rr731 and not simply a concentrated of regular, laxative-type rhubarb root. When in doubt, go with the evidence-based, name brand and not the “generic” version.

As always, be aware that no herb or medication can make up for an unhealthy life style. If you are one of the folks with “metabolic syndrome,” you will get best results for your peri-menopause problems by combining the herbal supplements with a program to improve body composition. There are currently such programs being offered by healthcare providers who have a Metagenics “Lifestyle Educator” on staff to personally coach you through a twelve week program designed to address the core cause of your symptoms for lasting relief. You can check with the Metagenics directory local providers of this service. I will be giving a free talk on this subject at Pharmaca Pharmacy in La Jolla the first Saturday in November.

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Category: Health & Fitness, Life Style

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