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
The best way to lose weight faster during menopause is to take a holistic approach. This means using a blend of herbs that lower stress, support the liver and gut, regulate blood sugar and balance hormones.
Now, in my experience as an integrative health coach, I’ve come to realize that stress-lowering herbs are by far the most important. Here’s why:
- By the time we start transitioning into menopause, we’ve been on the planet for 4+ decades.
- In those 4+ decades we’ve consumed various foods and drinks, developed various lifestyle and dietary habits, been exposed to toxins (via food, water, cosmetics), and been exposed to various 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 (emotional stress in this case).
Now, the thing with stress is that regardless of the source, our bodies react in the same way: cortisol production increases.
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.
A healthy liver is essential for converting thyroid T4 hormone to T3 (thyroid hormones regulate our metabolism). In addition, the liver is responsible for filtering hormone disrupting compounds and other toxins from the blood. So supporting the liver is essential.
Blood Sugar Herbs
Chronic stress of any kind goes hand-in-hand with elevated blood sugar, which could then evolve into insulin resistance. And unfortunately, insulin resistance often leads to weight gain (source).
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 Type||Why Use It|
|Stress-lowering herbs||they support the central nervous system and help to lower cortisol|
|Liver-Friendly herbs||a healthy liver is necessary for thyroid hormone conversion and overall detoxification.|
|Blood Sugar Herbs||elevated blood sugar can contribute to insulin resistance, which makes weight loss more difficult.|
|Gut-Friendly Herbs||the gut regulates estrogen and cravings, supports detoxification.|
7 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.
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.
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.
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.
BEST OVER THE COUNTER, HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR FASTER MENOPAUSE WEIGHT LOSS
1. Gaia Herbs Women’s Balance
- Milky Oats
- St. John’s Wort
- Red Clover
- Black Cohosh
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.
There are no adaptogens included in this blend.
This is one of the most complete blends I’ve come across. And even though it doesn’t contain adaptogens, the inclusion of nervines will still help to support the central nervous system.
In addition, Gaia is a brand that I personally use whenever I need high quality herbal blends.
This company has very high production standards (from my perspective) and I never hesitate to share this brand with my private clients as well.
While no one company is perfect, so far I’ve not had a bad experience with any of their products.
Go here to get this Women’s Balance formula on Amazon.
2. Pink Stork Menopause Supplement
- Milk Thistle
- Red Clover
- Red Raspberry Leaf
- Black Cohosh
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).
No nervines included.
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 the adaptogens will specifically target cortisol, helping to lower it.
Get Pink Stork’s Menopause Supplement here on Amazon.
3. Gaia Herbs Microbiome Food
- Marshmallow root
This is a prebiotic supplement that is helpful for supporting the growth of healthy gut bacteria as well as for promoting healthy digestion.
This focuses exclusively on the gut. So you’d have to combine it with another supplement on this list to get the other herbs we’ve discussed
If you struggle with digestive issues and gut issues, or if you’re not having regular bowel movements (at least 2 a day, ideally) then consider using this.
Get Gaia Herbs’ Microbiome Food here on Amazon.
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.
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.