Essential fatty acids are necessary for normal growth and development, but cannot be manufactured by the body. Thus they must be obtained from the diet. There are two families of fatty acids known as omega-3's and omega-6's. Flax seed contains about 60 percent omega-3 fatty acids and 16 percent of omega-6 fatty acids. However, the body can make more omega-6 fatty acids from flax seed through a series of enzyme reactions. So if your enzymes are working well, you may not need more oil of evening primrose, which contains mostly omega-6 fatty acids.
The typical North American Diet results in widespread deficiency of essential fatty acids as well as an imbalance of omega-3's relative to omega-6's. Health Canada recommends a ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 of between 1 to 4 or 1 to 7, versus the usual diet with its ratio of 1 to 20 to 1 to 60.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in marine life such as fish, seal and whale as well as flaxseed. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in evening primrose, borage, black currant, sunflower and safflower oils. Most health experts suggest daily supplementation with one or more omega-3 sources.
Researcher Udo Erasmus, author of Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill , prefers flaxseed oil for omega-3's. However, he believes that people can overdose on flaxseed oil and that maintaining a proper balance of omega-3 to omega-6 is important. So if you think you are taking too much flaxseed oil, you could balance it with another source of omega-6 oils. You may want to experiment with other brands of oil of evening primrose including those derived from borage or black currant.
Meanwhile, there are several herbs that you can use that will successfully relieve menopausal symptoms. Black cohosh extract has been studied for over forty years in Europe and has been shown to eliminate all the symptoms of menopause including hot flashes. Dong Quai is well known in China as the foremost female tonic. It has the effect of balancing the estrogen in the body. Take two capsules two or three times a day with meals or ten drops of the tincture in one-quarter cup of water three times a day. Panax Ginseng, another Chinese herb, will increase energy levels and metabolic rate, stimulate the immune system, and help normalize body functions. It goes well with vitamin-E. It works well for hot flashes, as well as stress, and mental and physical fatigue. However, it should not be used if you feel high strung or jittery, have insomnia or high blood pressure. The dose for ginseng is the same as for dong quai.
Herbalist Susun Weed in her book Menopausal Years (Ashtree, 1992) suggests taking dong quai for four weeks, followed by ginseng for two weeks and repeating this cycle for two years or as long as necessary.
VITAMIN-E enhances the effect of estrogen in the body. It usually doesn't cause palpitations. Experiment with different brands and perhaps make sure you take it after meals, when it is better absorbed. Start with 400IUs (international units) daily. You can increase up to 1,600IUs a day, if necessary. Don't use vitamin-E in high doses if you have high blood pressure, or if you are on drugs that decrease blood clotting.
Bee Pollen is another useful and safe food supplement. Start with two capsules or chewable tablets a day. Work up to as many as 12 or more until the hot flashes stop. Take it throughout the day, whenever it suits you. Test first to make sure you aren't allergic to bee pollen.
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