Do herbal remedies work for hot flashes?April 3, 2016 April 3, 2016
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania say that moderate to severe hot flashes continue, on average, for nearly 5 years after menopause, and more than a third of women experience moderate/severe hot flashes for 10 years or more after menopause. 1 Clearly, hot flashes present a problem to many women.
Many studies have come out in support of herbal remedies as an aid in menopausal symptoms and other ailments affecting menopausal age women including this recent study in the medical journal Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
- According to the research, herbal and complementary medicines could be recommended as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for treating postmenopausal symptoms.
Menopause is defined as the time after a woman’s menstrual periods have ceased (12 months after a woman’s final menstrual period). It is associated with an estrogen deficiency and can cause an increase in vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes), genitourinary symptoms (vaginal dryness, sexual dysfunction, frequent urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence), and musculoskeletal symptoms (joint pain) as well as sleep and mood disturbance.
One of the most common menopausal symptoms is hot flushes; approximately two-thirds of postmenopausal women will experience them, and 20% of women can experience them for up to 15 years, states the review.
Estrogen deficiency can also lead to longer-term health issues such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. While pharmacological agents are available to treat postmenopausal symptoms, many non-pharmacological treatment options are also available.
HRT is the most effective treatment of hot flushes, improving symptoms in 80 – 90% of women, says the review. However, the author notes that there are possible health risks associated with HRT, such as links to breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, and cardiovascular problems.
Due to these possible risks, other treatment options may be equally effective, such as behaviour modification and herbal and complimentary medicines, says the author.
The review states that as many as 50 – 75% of postmenopausal women use herbal options to treat hot flushes, and of the complimentary therapies, soy, red clover and black cohosh have been the most investigated.
Red Clover is one of the most extensively studied food supplements. Some research suggests the Red Clover Isoflavones helps with flashes and flushes, depression and other symptoms. Research suggests that Red Clover Extract (RCE) “exerted a subject improvement of scalp hair and skin status as well as libido, mood, sleep, and tiredness in postmenopausal women.” 2
- Frequency of hot flashes in red clover groups was lower compared with that in the control groups
- Vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy showed a significant improvement with 80-mg dose of red clover.
- Red clover consumption may decrease frequency of hot flashes, especially in women with severe hot flashes (more than 5 per day). 3
Recently, red clover was cited as being more effective than placebo was more effective than placebo in reducing daily vasomotor frequency and overall menopausal intensity in postmenopausal women.4
Other earlier research has validated the benefits of red clover including “significantly decreased menopausal symptoms and had a positive effect on vaginal cytology and triglyceride levels.” 5
Red clover is a plant that grows in the wild and is a favorite of grazing cattle. It contains isoflavones, plant based chemicals that produce estrogen like effects in the body. Isoflavones have shown potential in the treatment of a number of conditions associated with menopause. 6
Women who experience moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats during menopause also tend to have lower bone mineral density and higher rates of hip fracture
Women who experience moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats during menopause tend to have lower bone mineral density and higher rates of hip fracture than peers who do not have menopausal symptoms, according to a study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
- Postmenopausal women face a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become structurally weak and more likely to break, than either younger women or men.
The risk for this group is higher because the menopausal transition speeds the body’s normal process of bone loss. In postmenopausal women, the body tends to breaks down old bone tissue faster than it can be replaced.
The analysis found women who reported having moderate or severe hot flashes when they entered the study were more likely to fracture a hip during the follow-up period than women who had no menopausal symptoms. After researchers adjusted for age, body mass index and demographic factors, they found women who had moderate to severe menopausal symptoms had lower bone mass density at the neck and spine during the follow-up period than women with no symptoms.7
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3. Ghazanfarpour M, Sadeghi R, Roudsari RL, Khorsand I, Khadivzadeh T, Muoio B. Red clover for treatment of hot flashes and menopausal symptoms: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
J Obstet Gynaecol. 2016 Apr;36(3):301-11. doi: 10.3109/01443615.2015.1049249. Epub 2015 Oct 15.
4. Lipovac M, Chedraui P, Gruenhut C, et al. Effect of Red Clover Isoflavones over Skin, Appendages, and Mucosal Status in Postmenopausal Women. Obstet Gynecol Int. 2011;2011:949302.
5. Lipovac M, Chedraui P, Gruenhut C, The effect of red clover isoflavone supplementation over vasomotor and menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2011 Aug 26.
6. Hidalgo LA, Chedraui PA, Morocho N. The effect of red clover isoflavones on menopausal symptoms, lipids and vaginal cytology in menopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2005 Nov;21(5):257-64.