As researchers continue evaluating botanical
remedies for hot flashes, here’s what science has to
Black cohosh. This herb has received more
scientific attention for its possible effects on menopause-related
symptoms than any other botanical. In one study testing the black
cohosh supplement marketed as Remifemin, women taking a 20-mg
tablet twice a day for 8 to 12 weeks reported improvement in mild hot
flashes. However, a study funded by National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Institute on
Aging found that black cohosh, whether used alone or with other
botanicals, failed to relieve hot flashes and night sweats in
postmenopausal women or those approaching menopause. Unfortunately,
recently there have been several reports of liver problems in some
women on black cohosh. Although this is a rare occurrence and the
relationship to the herb is not proven, it bears
Soy. The scientific literature on soy for hot
flashes includes both encouraging and discouraging results. Isoflavones
(weak, plant-derived estrogens), most commonly found in soy foods
but also in dietary supplement pills, have been found to reduce
mild hot flashes by about 15% to 30% in some studies. However,
other studies show no effect. Eating 1 or 2 servings of soy foods
daily may provide greater benefits than supplements, but an effect on
hot flashes, if any, may take weeks.
quai. Only one major study of dong quai has been done.
Researchers did not find it to be useful in reducing hot flashes. Plus,
dong quai is known to interact with the blood-thinning medicine
warfarin. This can lead to bleeding complications in women who take
concluded that ginseng may help with some menopause-related symptoms,
such as mood symptoms and sleep disturbances, and with one's
overall sense of well-being. However, it has not been found helpful
for hot flashes. Ginseng is also a blood thinner, so women taking
anticoagulant therapy should be
Kava. The herb kava may decrease anxiety, but there is no
evidence that it decreases hot flashes. It is important to note that the
Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to patients and
providers about kava and Canada has banned the supplement because
of its potential to damage the liver.
clover. A total of 5 controlled studies found no consistent
or conclusive evidence that red clover leaf extract reduces hot
flashes. Some studies have raised concerns that red clover, which
contains plant-derived estrogens, might have harmful effects on
hormone-sensitive tissue (for example, in the breast and uterus).
reviewed: September 2008
The Co-Editors of Menopause Flashes are Elizabeth Contestabile, RNC, BScN, Nurse Educator, Shirley E. Greenberg Women's Health Centre, The Ottawa Hospital, Riverside Campus, Ottawa, ON, Canada; and Marcie K. Richardson, MD, Co-director, Harvard Vanguard Menopause Consultation Service, Boston, MA.
This e-newsletter, developed under the direction of the Consumer Education Committee of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), provides current information, but not specific medical advice. It is not intended to substitute for the judgment of an individual’s healthcare provider. To unsubscribe, send us an e-mail request.
Copyright 2008. Distributing print copies of this e-newsletter, in whole or part, is strictly prohibited.
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