Hot Flashes and Menopause (cont.)
Many women turn to alternative therapies for the treatment of hot flashes. These have included herbal products, vitamins, and plant estrogens as well as other substances. Doctors can be reluctant to recommend alternative treatments because these nonprescription products are not controlled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because they are not regulated like prescription medications, their ingredients and strength can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and testing and proof of safety is not required for marketing of these products as it is with prescription medications. Long-term, scientifically controlled studies for these products are either lacking or have not proved the safety and effectiveness of the product.
Some popular alternative treatments for menopausal hot flashes include:
- Plant estrogens, known as phytoestrogens. This broad category includes different types of compounds found insoy products, red clover, and flaxseed. Some studies have shown that these compounds may help relieve hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. However, some phytoestrogens can actually have anti-estrogenic properties in certain situations, and the overall risks of these preparations have not yet been determined.
- Black cohosh has been widely used in Europe and is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. The North American Menopause Society does support the short-term use of black cohosh for treating menopausal symptoms, for a period of up to six months. While some studies have shown that black cohosh can reduce hot flashes, most studies have not been considered to be stringent enough in their design to firmly prove any benefit. There have also not been adequate scientific studies that establish the long-term benefits and safety of using black cohosh.
- Vitamin E supplements have been used by some women to provide relief from hot flashes, but scientific studies are lacking to prove the effectiveness of vitamin E in relieving hot flashes.
- Other alternative remedies for hot flashes have included includinglicorice, evening primrose oil, dong quai, chasteberry, and wild yam. Scientific studies to prove the safety and effectiveness of these products have not been performed.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/23/2014
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