Related Topics: Advice, HRT, Nutrition

Hormone therapy in your kitchen

Rhubarb could act as a natural alternative to HRT.

Dr Harald Gaier

Rhubarb has been used for hundreds of years to treat various female complaints but it is only in recent years that we find it can be used as an alternative to conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

Attitudes towards HRT began to change in 2002 when surveys revealed it left the recipient with higher chances of coronary heart disease, breast cancer and strokes. On top of these dangerous risks the common side effects include nausea, stomach cramps and loss of appetite making it a highly undesirable process. Despite so much recent discussion over HRT and its alternatives it seems that many of us have to look no further than our fridge!

Although more commonly found in home cooking and often overlooked as a healing food, rhubarb is in fact a great source of phytoestrogen, which has been used for centuries in the treatment and relief of menstrual and menopausal problems. For women contemplating the use of HRT it appears that this natural alternative could be a much-welcomed option. Phytoestrogen has a very similar structure to oestrogen but unlike natural or synthetic oestrogen has none of the off putting health risks.

Research has shown the benefits of using Phytoestrogen alongside the contraceptive pill in its medication form; Phytoestrol. Investigations have suggested that the week long withdrawal from the hormone combination found in the pill was often the cause of monthly nausea, headaches and exhaustion. Evidence has shown that by taking a small 4mg dose of rhubarb root throughout the 7-day gap in the pills routine that these undesirable effects can be easily avoided.

Through more research Phytoestrol has also been known to have highly positive effects in:

  • Encouraging the start of a menstrual cycle when it’s been absent for an extended period of time or has failed to begin at all.
  • Helping those who suffer from severe pain in the uterus during their menstrual cycle.
  • Reducing the inflammation of the uterus lining in those who suffer from oestrogen deficiencies.

Surprisingly, rhubarb is very high in calcium and studies show that Phytoestrogen has positive effects acting upon connective tissues. For menopausal women this can greatly improve their chances of avoiding Osteoarthritis, which can become common at this stage in life.

Rhubarb also contains added bonuses such as niacin, magnesium, vitamin B6, and zinc. Niacin is a vital component in the synthesis of Oestrogen and a magnesium deficiency will cause women to experience the dreaded pre-menstrual tension syndrome. As if that wasn’t enough zinc can help to restore regularity to irregular and erratic periods. What’s more, this Phytoestrogen is not hard to find, naturally occurring in herbs and vegetables such as anise, celery, fennel, ginseng and even liquorice.

The added benefits of natural remedies such as Phytoestrols means they really should not be overlooked as they offer so much more than simply hormone therapy. This form of therapy may not be as quick to act but it brings about a long-term lasting improvement, in contrast to HRT, which once finished often leaves the patient the same as when they first began treatment.

For more information on Dr Gaier’s work go to or to keep up to date with health news visit or follow him on twitter

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