herbs for menopause weight gain

One of the most disheartening aspects of going through menopause is the sudden weight gain occurs and the realization that the “eat less and exercise more” philosophy just doesn’t work anymore. If you’re currently in this particular situation, don’t despair because there are herbs for menopause weight gain that can help you to start turning things around.

In this article we’re going to look at:

  • Why we need to take a different approach to weight loss during menopause.
  • The main types or categories of herbs that can help you.
  • Some herbs that you can incorporate into your diet.
  • Supplement brands that you can use to get started.

Note: this post contains affiliate links and I earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you use them to make a purchase.

HOW TO CHOOSE HERBAL REMEDIES FOR WEIGHT LOSS DURING MENOPAUSE

herbal remedies for weight loss during menopause - ashwagandha

Losing weight during menopause requires a holistic approach. This means using herbs that:

  • lower stress.
  • support liver function.
  • regulate blood sugar.
  • support gut health.

Ideally, you should work with a herbalist or doctor who is knowledgeable about herbs to put together a custom blend that meets your specific needs.

In the meantime, you can use the information in this article as a starting off point of things to look into.

1. Choose An Herb for Stress and Inflammation

Menopause is often a very stressful time not only because of the changes that your body is going through, but also because:

  • By the time we start transitioning into menopause, we’ve been on the planet for 4+ decades.
  • In those 4+ decades we’ve developed long-standing lifestyle and dietary habits that may or may not serve us. In addition, we’ve been exposed to multiple toxins (via food, water, cosmetics), and pathogens (fungi, viruses, bacteria).
  • In addition, we may have also developed nutritional deficiencies that have quietly gone unnoticed.

All of this creates imbalance and puts the body in a state of stress. More specifically, chemical stress.

Let’s also remember that we often tend to have responsibilities – career, kids, hubby, taking care of aging parents, etc. – during this phase of life. So, again, more stress (in this case, emotional stress).

Now, the thing with stress is that regardless of the source, the body reacts in the same way: our inflammatory response system kicks in and triggers the production of cortisol.

And chronically elevated cortisol can eventually lead to (source):

  • a slower metabolism.
  • increased sugar cravings.
  • sleep disruptions.
  • elevated blood sugar.
  • gut imbalance.
  • an overworked liver (especially when you’re dealing with a lot of chemical stress).

Any one of these factors alone can contribute to weight gain. But if they all occur at once then that exacerbates weight problems.

So, the first step to losing weight during menopause is to use herbs that support our stress response system. 

This stress response system involves the central nervous system and the endocrine system (specifically, the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenals aka the HPA axis).

In addition to herbs for stress, it can be helpful to also use herbs that help with liver function, blood sugar regulation and gut health. Here’s a quick overview of why these herbs can help with weight loss.

2. Choose a Liver-Friendly Herb

A healthy liver is essential for converting thyroid T4 hormone to T3 (thyroid hormones regulate our metabolism).

In addition, the liver is responsible for metabolizing hormones and helping us get rid of harmful compounds (i.e. detox) that contribute to hormonal imbalance.

3. Choose an Herb for Blood Sugar Regulation

Chronic stress of any kind goes hand-in-hand with elevated blood sugar, which could potentially evolve into insulin resistance. And unfortunately, insulin resistance often leads to weight gain (source).

4. Add An Herb for Gut Health

The gut produces hunger hormones (like leptin and ghrelin), regulates estrogen and also plays a key role in detoxification.

In addition, gut bacteria can affect the types of cravings we have.

Furthermore, chronic stress negatively affects gut function and contributes to inflammatory conditions like leaky syndrome. At this point you can get stuck in a vicious cycle with stress, impacting the gut, the gut not being able to regulate hormones being out of whack and leading to more stress. 

Herb TypeWhy Use It
Stress-lowering herbsthey support the central nervous system and help to lower cortisol
Liver-Friendly herbsa healthy liver is necessary for thyroid hormone conversion and detoxification.
Blood Sugar Herbselevated blood sugar can contribute to insulin resistance, which makes weight loss more difficult.
Gut-Friendly Herbsthe gut regulates estrogen and cravings, supports detoxification.

9 BEST HERBS FOR PERIMENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE WEIGHT GAIN

best herbs for perimenopause and menopause weight gain

There are lots of different herbs that can be used to support weight loss during menopause. The list below is not meant to be exhaustive. 

Rather it focuses on herbs that have historically been used to address the things we talked about in the previous section. 

Some of these herbs have modern research to validate their traditional use and I’ve included links to studies when relevant.

Lastly, please remember to always check with your doctor before adding herbs to your regimen. They can interact with other drugs (as well as with each other, if combined incorrectly).

1. Stinging Nettle Leaf

Nettle is by far my favorite herb for women because it supports so many different parts of the body and it is very rich in nutrients.

I’ve written a more detailed article here about the benefits of nettle for hormones, so I won’t dive into everything. But here’s a brief summary of its properties:

  • Rich in iron.
  • Supports thyroid function.
  • Balances blood sugar.
  • Supports liver health.
  • Fights inflammation.
  • Good source of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and proteins.

My favorite way to consume nettle is in the form of a strong infusion (the instructions for making it are in the article I linked above).

But you can also take in the form of a capsule.

2. Milk Thistle

In the world of herbalism, milk thistle is one of the go-to herbs to support liver function.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the liver’s main jobs is to get rid of toxins. Now, when the liver metabolizes toxins, free radicals are released.

These free radicals can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress.

However, research shows that milk thistle is able to reduce inflammation and damage to the liver (source).

In order to balance your hormones and naturally lose weight, optimal liver function is critical. 

And milk thistle is one herb to consider adding to your regimen.

Alternative liver herb to try: dandelion, red clover.

3. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is in a class of plants known as adaptogens. These adaptogens are ideal for supporting our stress response system (the HPA axis) and helping to lower cortisol levels.

Ashwagandha provides a lot of benefits including:

  • restoring healthy cortisol levels.
  • Improving insulin sensitivity.
  • regulating estrogen and progesterone levels.
  • supporting healthy thyroid function.
  • lowering inflammation.

If you’d like to learn more about adaptogens, be sure to check out this guide which covers a variety of adaptogenic herbs for hormones and weight loss.

Alternative adaptogenic herbs to try: maca, rhodiola rosea, schisandra.

4. Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms are adaptogens. But unlike other adaptogens (like ashwagandha) that work directly on the HPA axis, reishi’s main focus is on boosting the immune system.

This can be beneficial if you are struggling with excess candida (which contributes to gut inflammation) or if you are generally prone to getting infections.

Remember that an overworked immune system means your body is stressed out. So, by using an adaptogen like reishi, your immune system gets the support it needs.

Last but not least, one animal study suggests that reishi has a positive effect on gut bacteria, weight loss and insulin resistance (source). Human studies are needed to confirm this, but so far it sounds promising.

Alternative adaptogenic mushrooms to try: cordyceps, turkey tail, maitake.

5. Oats (Avena Sativa)

If stress has you feeling depleted, frazzled, depressed or you’re struggling to sleep, then oats are something to look into.

Oats have nervine properties, meaning that they nourish the nervous system.

Nourishing the nervous system is all part of supporting our stress response because every part of the body relies on nerves – that originate from the spine – for communication.

So by nourishing your nerves your entire body benefits and experiences more balance.

Please note that oats are available in two different forms:

  • Milky oats: tops of the oat plant. These are harvested before the development of the oat grain that is used in oatmeal. At this stage, the tops release a milky liquid when squeezed.
  • Oatstraw: the stem of the oat plant. This is also harvested when the plant is in the milky stage.

Either form, or both, can be used, depending on what you have access to.

Alternative nervines to try: st. john’s wort, chamomile.

6. Cinnamon

One of the best herbs for regulating blood sugar is cinnamon. This is because cinnamon can mimic insulin, therefore helping to get glucose into our cells where it belongs.

And the best part? It doesn’t take a lot of cinnamon to start seeing improvements. Some studies have produced results with as little as 0.2 tsp of cinnamon.

For a deeper understanding of how cinnamon helps with hormone balance, be sure to check out this article.

7. Ginger

Ginger is a household herb that is great for the gut and digestive system. Not only is it rich in antioxidants that support gut health but it’s good for stimulating MMC (migrating motor complex).

If you’re not familiar with MMC it’s basically a mechanism that supports healthy digestion (so that food doesn’t stagnate and ferment in the body).

To add to this, research indicates that ginger has prebiotic properties i.e. it acts as “food” for the probiotics or good bacteria in our gut (source).

NOTE: the same study also showed that cinnamon has a prebiotic effect.

Alternative prebiotics to try: marshmallow, inulin, cinnamon, fenugreek.

8. Red Clover

Red clover has two main benefits. First it appears to have a protective effect on the liver and has historically been used as a blood cleanser (1, 2, 3). This blood cleansing effect can be helpful for eliminating toxins.

Second, red clover contains isoflavones (plant estrogens) that are helpful for regulating estrogen. Since estrogen imbalance plays a significant role in weight gain, red clover can be helpful in bringing the body back to harmony.

In addition, red clover has traditionally been used to support female health at various stages of life, including menopause. It’s said to help with hot flashes, bone health and cardiovascular health.

9. Green Tea

Whether you use regular green tea or matcha (green tea powder) it can be a great way to support weight loss because it (source):

  • improves insulin sensitivity and regulates blood sugar.
  • is rich in antioxidants that help to lower inflammation.
  • contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can reduce stress and cortisol levels.
  • protects the liver and reduces the risk of liver disease.
  • contains the antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which has thermodynamic properties (i.e. boosts your metabolism).

By the way, if you use green tea powder over regular green tea, then you also get more antioxidants. In fact, research shows that matcha generally has at least 3 times more antioxidants that standard green tea (source).

BEST OVER THE COUNTER, HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR FASTER MENOPAUSE WEIGHT LOSS

1. Green Juice

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NOTEWORTHY INGREDIENTS

  • Ashwagandha
  • Matcha green tea
  • Turmeric (very helpful for inflammation)

PROS

This is one of the most complete green powders you can find because it gives you:

  • nutrient dense greens that also support detoxification: spirulina, chlorella, moringa and wheatgrass.
  • stress and cortisol support from ashwagandha and matcha.
  • additional detox support from beetroot.
  • prebiotic powder to support the gut.
  • minty fresh flavor that covers the taste of the strong greens.
  • doesn’t clump up like many powders and dissolves well in plain water.

CONS

  • contains “natural flavors” which can be confusing because natural flavors generally contain similar components as artificial flavors. However, since this powder is organic, the natural flavors used in it should be cleaner. This is based on the fact that natural flavors in organic products are legally required to be produced without preservatives, synthetic solvents or carrier systems.

OVERALL OPINION

If you’re looking for a supplement that checks all the boxes for supporting weight loss, while also giving your body serious nourishment, this is a must have.

2. Pink Stork Menopause

NOTEWORTHY INGREDIENTS

  • Ashwagandha
  • Milk Thistle
  • Red Clover
  • Maca
  • Red Raspberry Leaf
  • Black Cohosh
  • Vitex

PROS

This supplement has one major benefit compared to the previous supplement: it includes adaptogens (ashwagandha and maca). 

And it still has all the herbs you’d expect to find in a menopause formula, such as liver-friendly herbs (milk thistle) and traditional female support herbs (red raspberry leaf, black cohosh and vitex).

CONS

  • No nervines included.

OVERALL OPINION

If you want a blend that includes adaptogens, then this is a great option. The main advantage of this supplement over the previous one is that it contains adaptogens which help to regulate cortisol.

3. Women’s Balance

NOTEWORTHY INGREDIENTS

  • Milky Oats
  • Dandelion
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Red Clover
  • Black Cohosh

PROS

Aside from having liver-friendly herbs (like dandelion) and nervines (like milky oats and st john’s wort) this blend also incorporates traditional “female herbs” like black cohosh, sage and vitex.

CONS

There are no adaptogens included.

OVERALL OPINION

This is a good blend for general hormone support. Combined with a healthy diet, it can create more harmony in the body and support your weight loss goals.

FAQs ABOUT MENOPAUSE AND WEIGHT GAIN

What is the best diet for weight loss during menopause?

An anti-inflammatory diet that contains most whole foods and plenty of plant protein (with moderate amounts of clean animal protein) is ideal for menopause.

For a detailed outline of what this type of diet looks like, plus a printable food guide to get you started, check out this hormone balancing diet plan.

CONCLUSION

Losing weight during menopause can seem like a mission impossible, particularly when the old weight loss tricks we’ve been taught no longer work.

But by taking a more holistic approach, and understanding that weight loss involves more than just “calories in, calories out,” then you will be better able to maintain a healthy figure through menopause.

Also, please remember that herbs are a great way to support your diet. But they’re not a substitute for a healthy diet.

So, if you know that your diet could use some improvement, do that first. Then add on the herbs as a booster.


Hey, if you’re curious about the best supplements overall for women’s hormones, here are my top picks (my in-depth review of these supplements can be found here):

  • Green Juice: this is a multipurpose powder that can help with weight loss, stress and cortisol balance, fatigue, detoxing and more. It contains amazing ingredients like matcha, turmeric, ashwagandha, beets and much more.
  • Moon Balance: this powder combines some of the best herbs for menstrual support, such as hibiscus, maca and shatavari. If your cycle is off balance and you struggle with things like PMS, period pain and other menstrual imbalances, this is one to check out.
  • Formula 4|5: formulated specifically for women in perimenopause, these herbal capsules include vitex, milk thistle and EstroG-100 (a trademarked blend of 3 herbs that has been shown to improve menopause symptoms).
  • Women’s Balance: this supplement combines “classic” female herbs (like red clover and vitex) with herbs to support the nervous system (hello stress!) and detox-friendly herbs (like dandelion). These herbs have traditionally been used to support female health at all stages of life.

Related Posts:

7 Amazing Benefits and Uses of Sage Leaf For Menopause

How to Go Through Menopause Naturally: 7 Steps To Start Using Today

Hibiscus Tea and Menopause: Uses For Weight Loss, Hot Flashes and More

Menopause Smoothie: Best Ingredients To Use For Relief (+ Recipes)

Everything You Need To Know About Estrogen Dominance During Perimenopause

Best Menopause Supplements Without Black Cohosh (for 2022)