A new study review found women experiencing menopause symptoms could find relief from herbal remedies and behavior modification. The finding, published in The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist (TOG) Jan. 10, 2013, suggests there are herbs that can be taken by women to relieve hot flashes that are safe and effective alternatives to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Because hormone replacement therapy is associated with higher incidence of breast cancer, stroke and heart disease, the study authors investigated complementary therapies that can help relieve hot flashes – the most common symptom associated with menopause.
Estrogen levels that decline with menopause can also set women up for health risks that include heart disease and osteoporosis, making it important to find safe options.
According to background information from the authors, approximately 20 percent of women can experience hot flushes up to 15 years after their menstrual period ends.
Other symptoms that can accompany menopause include vaginal dryness, recurring urinary tract infections, joint pain and mood swings.
Iris Tong, Director of Women's Primary Care at the Women's Medicine Collaborative, The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Rhode Island who authored the study explained in a press release, seventy-five percent of women turn to complimentary and herbal medicines to treat symptoms associated with menopause.
“Therefore, it is vitally important for healthcare providers to be aware of and informed about the non-pharmacological therapies available for women who are experiencing postmenopausal symptoms and who are looking for an alternative to HRT.”
The most common herbs used for hot flushes are red clover, soy and black cohosh. The herbs are also the most widely investigated.
The review found soy that can be taken as a supplement or consumed naturally from foods can reduce hot flashes 20 to 55 percent. Red clover that contains estrogen like soy has also been found to help reduce symptoms. Black cohosh can also be recommended for postmenopausal symptoms, the authors concluded.
It's also important to get regular aerobic exercise after menopause to help control weight gain. Exercise can also help prevent mood swings, improve sleep hygiene and alleviate pain.
As a note of caution, Tong says it’s important to know herbal supplements aren't regulated in many countries, so the content of supplements might vary.
Behavior modifications that can help include smoking cessation, wearing layered clothing and keeping your environment cool. Relaxation techniques can also be beneficial, said TOG's Editor –in-Chief, Jason Waugh in an accompanying editorial to the study.
January 10, 2013
“Nonpharmacologic Treatment of Postmenopausal Symptoms”