Hello, hormones! Its is Menopause Awareness Month. I must declare that, officially menopausal though I am (the Mayo Clinic defines it as kicking in one year after the last menstrual period), that I have never been less aware of my hormones. All my adult life, I experienced three to six days a month of uncomfortable, exhausted misery. Now that this is behind me, I feel as fit as fiddle, mostly good humored, and my skin and hair are better than they’ve been for years. Consequently, I don’t feel the need to focus on potions and lotions aimed at menopausal women.

Still, it is Menopause Awareness Month, and when I was sent a cream designed for women over 40 whose skin is the victim of hormonal change,  I was curious to see what its approach would be. Zen Attitude Cream ($69) is made by Paris-based Dr Jules Nabet co-author of the book The Hormone Solution: Stay Younger Longer with Natural Hormone and Nutrition Therapies.

Zen Attitude sounds like an oxymoron to me and I wondered if something had got lost in translation - a thought that came to me again when perusing Dr Nabet’s website page for Zen Attitude, which contains three typos and refers to the skin becoming “floppy”, which put me in mind of a cocker spaniel for some reason.

The ingredients include a handful of common anti-agers, such as moisture retaining sodium hyaluronate, wheat protein and camelina sativa seeds, whose oil is rich in fatty acids. Not much there that you would think of as menopause specific.

More interesting is dioscorea villosa, wild yam and its not surprising that a hormone guy like Dr Nabet would go for it. There is research showing that wild yam is beneficial for post menopausal women. For example, a study on 22 women who ate yam for 30 days, replacing two thirds of staple food, showed improved status of sex hormones, lipids, and antioxidants. The researchers speculated that these effects might reduce the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular diseases in postmenopausal women, although they admitted that “the exact mechanism is not clear”. And, to my mind, the study implies that you have to consume an awful lot of yam to see any effects.

Reassuringly though, a Japanese study concluded that wild yam supplements (due to the diosgenin content) resulted in the “restoration of keratinocyte proliferation in aged skin”. And yam may be useful against sun spots – a 2007 study concluded that diosgenin inhibits melanogenesis and “may be an effective inhibitor of hyperpigmentation”

Nymphaea, or blue lotus, led me to the Neurosoup Trip Guide. This is a guide not to vacation or even business trips but, to my great amusement, hallucinogenic ones. Water lilies are narcotic, it seems, and may have played a part in ancient Eyptian drug rituals. Perhaps it is in a serum aimed at menopausal women in recognition that there are certainly days when we could do with some mind altering. There is some evidence of antioxidant compounds in blue lotus, but otherwise its role in Zen Attitude isn’t terribly convincing.

Then there is a northeast Asian shrub that is supposedly a stress reducer, mildly anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. In a move reminiscent of Prince, it was formerly known as Siberian ginseng but underwent an official name to change to the unpronounceable eleutherococcus senticosus. This may have compounds that are able to hang on to estrogen receptors, although I couldn’t find enough evidence to back this up and is often sold as a destressor and an aid for sporty types, although research seems to mostly disprove this. Panax ginseng, which is also in Zen Attitude, has a spotted history regarding whether it can relieve menopause symptoms, with some studies saying that it does not.

Maybe its because my hormones are fairly placid these days that I can’t get excited about this formulation. However, I know that there are many in the TIA community that swear by bioavailable hormone therapy. If one of you would like to test Zen Attitude and review if for the rest of us, raise your hand.

Ingredients: Water, sodium hyaluronate, carylic/capric triglyceride, glycerin, potassium palmitoyl hydrolyzed wheat protein, glyceryl stearate, cetearyl stearate, methylmetacrylate crosspolymer, camelina sativa seed oil, evening primrose oil, cyclomethicone, shea butter, polyacrylamide-C13-14 isoparaffinum-laureth-17, tocopheryl acetate, dioscorea villosa extract, nymphaea caerulea extract, Eleutherococcus senticosus, panax ginseng, soybean germ extract, phenoxyethanol, fragrance, methylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, chlorphenesin, disodium EDTA, linalool, hydroxycitronellal, limonene