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Tryptophan Use In Menopause
Menopause is a normal and natural part of a woman's life. It occurs twelve months after her final menstrual period, but her symptoms of hormonal imbalance may begin several years before menopause actually takes place (perimenopause).
The average life expectancy for women in the US today is age 84, and the average age when a woman reaches menopause is age 51. This means many woman will spend almost half of their lives post-menopausal.
If you are lucky enough to have an easy transition, being menopausal can be a freeing and rewarding time of life. Unfortunately, women often experience troublesome and even debilitating symptoms that can begin in their 30's and last for several years after their last menstrual cycle.
Perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms may include:
• bone loss
• muscle tenderness
• loss of sex drive
• vaginal dryness
• hot flashes
• bladder leakage
Doctors can prescribe hormone replacements to ease some of these symptoms and it works fine for many women. However, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does have it's drawbacks. The most common form of HRT involves taking synthetic estrogen and progesterone. Side effects with these synthetics are common, including an increased risk for some types of cancer.
Fortunately, there are a myriad of other options available to help correct hormonal imbalance and manage the symptoms associated with it. Functional Medicine Specialists, Naturopathic Doctors, even traditional MD's and OBGYN's are turning to herbs and nutritional supplements to support their female patients.
Estrogen and progesterone decline during menopause and perimenopause, but not always at the same rate. It's important to get blood and/or saliva tests done to determine what your individual hormone levels are and the best treatment options available for you.
If progesterone decline is a significant problem, then wild yam cream can be used to increase levels. Estrogenic herbs like red clover and licorice can be used to help raise estrogen levels. Some women use this time to undergo a complete nutritional overhaul. Diet modification, detoxification protocols (such as infra-red sauna, chelation therapies, candida cleanses), liver cleansing, and vitamin, mineral and amino acid supplementation can correct underlying imbalances and help diminish symptoms and restore health.
Tryptophan supplements are widely used in managing menopausal symptoms. Next to hot flashes, mood imbalances and sleep disturbances are two of the most common complaints in menopause. Tryptophan has a well documented history of helping with anxiety, depression and insomnia. Tryptophan is also used to manage symptoms of muscle pain, cravings, and even PMDD (Premenstral, Dysphoric Disorder.)
Studies show that hormonal changes in woman can affect the metabolism of tryptophan and it's conversion into serotonin. This may be one reason women crave more sweets and carbohydrates during different points of their monthly cycle, and during menopause. SSRI's are commonly prescribed for PMS and menopause. Using tryptophan to boost your serotonin naturally is a much safer option.
Doses as low as 250mg of tryptophan per day have been shown to improve sleep quality, but it's not uncommon for woman to use anywhere from 500mg to 1500mg daily to gain relief from symptoms. Studies have used amounts as high as 6000mg per day, with great efficacy and safety.
As a guideline, we recommend starting off with a low dose and increasing in increments until you find the right dose for you individually. Amino acids are powerful agents and more does not necessarily equal better.
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