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Supplements for your mental wellbeing

Natural remedies can be a great way to boost your mood and support your mental health during the menopause. Here pharmacist, herbalist and nutritional consultant Davide Ferrilli shares the best supplements to help you deal with anxiety, low mood, fatigue and brain fog, all classic symptoms during this important period of change.

Can supplements boost your mental well-being during your menopause?

Natural remedies can be a brilliant way to boost your mood and support your mental health during the menopause. In this blog I’ll share the best supplements to help you deal with anxiety, low mood, fatigue and brain fog – all classic symptoms of the menopause transition.

It’s important to flag that while some women may feel the benefits after a few days, it may take up to one or two months before you feel the full effects of these natural remedies.

Can everyone take these supplements?

Some of the supplements I recommend below can have a phytohormonal activity (meaning they replicate the behaviour or boost the activity of female sexual hormones in the body), so they are not recommended for women who have, or have had, hormone-sensitive cancers. Other supplements that I recommend are considered safe for these women as they are not thought to have activity on sex hormones such as oestrogens – I’ve signposted these below.

Start by speaking to an expert in supplements 

It is important to flag that:

  • your individual reaction to herbal supplements can sometimes be unpredictable, especially when dealing with multiple preparations
  • herbs can interfere with some pharmaceutical treatments

Since every woman has different needs and a different medical history, speaking to a health care practitioner with expertise in supplements (such as a registered nutritional specialist, a herbalist, a naturopath, or a doctor or a pharmacist with expertise in natural medicine), is always the best way to ensure that you are about to take the most appropriate and safest supplement(s) for you.

What supplements do I recommend?

Here are my top recommendations for supplements to boost mental well-being:


This is a native Peruvian root that can relieve anxiety, low mood and fatigue, especially in the early stage of your menopause. It’s also a mood-booster [1] and aids relaxation.  Maca can also improve sexual performance and libido in both men and women [2][3], making it a possible natural alternative to prescription testosterone to boost sex drive. Finally, evidence suggests that it might help improve metabolism and reduce menopause-related weight gain [4][5].

Usually, you should be able to appreciate the benefits of Maca by taking about 500mg of its root extract orally per day.

However, although this herbal remedy does not contain any phytohormones, it may stimulate the body to produce more oestrogens. This means that it should be not used by women with oestrogen-sensitive conditions such as hormone-related breast, ovarian or uterine cancers, endometriosis or uterine fibroids.


Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, this plant creates a positive mood and enhances relaxation[6]. Studies show that it can reduce stress and anxiety and promote healthy sleep[7], above all by helping to stabilise your levels of cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone, involved in many stress-related reactions in your body.

Furthermore, clinical studies have shown that  Ashwagandha may also possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and can exert a positive influence on the endocrine, cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems[8].

Ashwagandha can usually be safely taken by women who have a hormone-related cancer history. However, it should be avoided if you are taking strong prescription sedatives, anticonvulsants or suffer from hyperthyroidism, as this plant may increase your thyroid activity.


Rhodiola is a powerful plant that has been used for centuries as a strong adaptogen. It helps promote a positive mood, can aid relaxation and has also been shown to help improve energy levels, cognitive function and memory [9][10]. In addition to its mental health benefits, recent research suggests that it may help support cardiovascular and bone health in the menopause[11]. Rhodiola is claimed to be safe if you have had hormone-related cancer. However, it should be avoided if you are on antidepressants (especially escitalopram) or suffer from severe high blood pressure.


This is a medicinal mushroom that may boost your energy, reduce stress levels, lower anxiety[12] and improve your mood and resilience.

Studies suggest that it may be also a powerful natural hormonal regulator, particularly effective in modulating menopausal disorders and oestrogen activity [13][14], although further studies are still needed to clearly work out its mechanism of action for this possible additional effect. On top of that, Reishi can improve the quality of your sleep  [15][16] and is thought to act as a potent natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, so you could try it to see if it helps you ease chronic pain such as joint or back pain, migraine, or fibromyalgia[17], for example.

However, there is no clear evidence for the safety of Reishi if you have a hormone-related cancer history, and it should not be taken if you are on strong anticoagulant medication, as it might make your blood thinner, increasing the risk of bleeding.


This herb can be very beneficial in treating anxiety and depression[18].

Although it can be very effective and does not work in a phytohormonal way, it can interact with many prescription medicines.  In fact, St John’s Wort can interact with antidepressants, digoxin, warfarin, anti-asthma drugs, oral contraceptives, migraine drugs, cancer drugs, and HIV drugs. And this list is not fully exhaustive! Therefore, please always check with a doctor or health care professional with expertise in supplementation if you are thinking about taking St John’s Wort, especially if you are on regular prescription medication. It would be safer to avoid St John’s Wort if there is any risk of interaction.

Always speak to a qualified healthcare practitioner

Every woman is unique, and there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ rule when dealing with health, so it is always best to speak with a healthcare professional with expertise in this area before starting your journey with natural supplements. This way, you will not only receive personalised advice on the best menopausal supplementation for you, but also all the nutritional and lifestyle tips to best support your general well-being in this new important phase of your life.


Davide Ferrilli (MSc Pharm, PG Master in Herbal Medicine, MGPhC, MANP, MGNC) is a Registered Pharmacist, Nutritional Consultant, Herbalist and member of the Association of Naturopathic Practitioners. Davide strongly promotes a holistic vision of health, especially for chronic disorders. Whilst practicing as a pharmacist, he studied Herbal Medicine, gained a Diploma as Nutritional Consultant and attended a 2 year course in Bioenergetic Nutrition according to Chinese Medicine. He runs HealisticYou, where he offers personalized holistic consultations and promotes his original nutritional method (PEF). Davide also collaborates with like-minded psychotherapists and healthcare professionals both in Italy and in the UK. His science-based approach is focused on personalized nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle, combining Western and Eastern medicine.


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  1. Stojanovska L, Law C, Lai B, Chung T, Nelson K, Day S, Apostolopoulos V, Haines C. Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women. Climacteric. 2015 Feb;18(1):69-78. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2014.929649. Epub 2014 Aug 7.

  2. Brooks NA, Wilcox G, Walker KZ, et. Al. Beneficial effects of Lepidium Meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to oestrogen or androgen content. Menopause. 2008 Nov-Dec;15(6):1157-62

  3. Gonzales GF, Córdova A, Vega K, et. Al. Effect of Lepidium Meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia. 2002 Dec;34(6):367-72

  4. Valentová K, Ulrichová J. Smallanthus. Sonchifolius and Lepidium Meyenii – prospective Andean crops for the prevention of chronic diseases. Biomed Pap Med Fac Univ Palacky Olomouc Czech Repub. 2003 Dec;147(2):119-30

  5. Gonzales GF, Villaorduña L, Gasco M, Rubio J, Gonzales C. Maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp), a review of its biological properties]. Rev Peru Med Exp Salud Publica. 2014;31(1):100-10.

  6. Auddy B, Hazra J, Mitra A, et. Al. A standardized withania somnifera extract significantly reduces stress related parameters in chronically stressed humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. JANA. 2008 11(1): 50-6

  7. Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Sairam K, Ghosal S. Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera glycowithanolides: an experimental study. Phytomedicine. 2000 Dec;7(6):463-9

  8. Mishra LC, Singh BB, Dagenais S. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Aug;5(4):334-46.

  9. Brown RP, Gerbarg PL, Ramazanov Z. Rhodiola rosea: A phytochemical overview. 2002. Herbalgram. 56(1); 40-52

  10. Bystritsky A, Kerwin L, Feusner JD. A pilot study of Rhodiola rosea (Rhodax) for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Mar;14(2):175-80

  11. Gerbarg PL, Brown RP. Pause menopause with Rhodiola rosea, a natural selective estrogen receptor modulator. Phytomedicine. 2015 Dec 12. pii: S0944-7113(15)00368-2

  12. Ahmad R, Riaz M, Khan A, Aljamea A, Algheryafi M, Sewaket D, Alqathama A. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) an edible mushroom; a comprehensive and critical review of its nutritional, cosmeceutical, mycochemical, pharmacological, clinical, and toxicological properties. Phytother Res. 2021 Nov;35(11):6030-6062.

    doi: 10.1002/ptr.7215. Epub 2021 Aug 19.

  13. Kuniyoshi Shimizu, Ichiko Miyamoto, Jie Liu, Fumiko Konishi, Shoichiro Kumamoto, Ryuichiro Kondo. Estrogen-like activity of ethanol extract of Ganoderma lucidum. J Wood Sci (2009) 55:53–59 DOI 10.1007/s10086-008-0992-2

  14. Ye WY, Wang JZ, Deng GG, Dang YW, Liu HW, Chen G. Estrogenic activities of compound GL-1, isolated from Ganoderma lucidum. Nat Prod Res. 2021 Dec;35(24):6062-6066. doi: 10.1080/14786419.2020.1819270. Epub 2020 Sep 9. PMID: 32901516

  15. Xiangyu Cui Yonghe Zhang. Neuropharmacological Effect and Clinical Applications of Ganoderma (Lingzhi). Adv Exp Med Biol. 2019;1182:143-157.

  16. Xia FengYan Wang. Anti-inflammatory, anti-nociceptive and sedative-hypnotic activities of lucidone D extracted from Ganoderma lucidum. Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 2019 Apr 30;65(4):37-42.

  17. Collado Mateo D, Pazzi F, Domínguez Muñoz FJ, Martín Martínez JP, Olivares PR, Gusi N, Adsuar JC. Ganoderma lucidum improves physical fitness in women with fibromyalgia. Nutr Hosp. 2015 Nov 1;32(5):2126-35. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.32.5.9601.

  18. Qin Xiang NgNandini VenkatanarayananCollin Yih Xian Ho. Clinical use of Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort) in depression: A meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2017 Mar 1;210:211-221.  doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.12.048. Epub 2017 Jan 3.

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