Menopausal Symptoms and Complementary Health Approaches
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A number of studies and systematic reviews on complementary health approaches for menopausal symptoms have been published. There is limited evidence on the effects of mind and body practices for menopausal symptoms, but a few hold promise. Scientists have found little evidence that natural products, such as herbs and other dietary supplements, are helpful. The long-term safety of phytoestrogens such as soy, red clover, and flaxseed, has not been established.
This issue of the digest provides highlights from current research on several frequently used complementary health approaches for menopausal symptoms, including phytoestrogens, black cohosh, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and yoga.
Modality and Summary of Current Research
Soy isoflavone supplements or soy protein may help to reduce the frequency and severity of menopausal hot flashes, but the effect may be small.
Research suggests that certain black cohosh extracts and some combination products containing black cohosh may reduce some menopause symptoms. Most of the research has been on the single extract Remifemin. Research on other black cohosh products has had inconsistent results. Guidelines released in 2015 indicate that there is a lack of consistent evidence for any benefit from black cohosh for menopause symptoms. But a 2017 review of research suggests that black cohosh extracts approved for treatment in Europe seem to decrease menopause symptoms.
Studies on the effects of red clover on menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, and on blood levels of cholesterol and other lipids have had inconsistent results.
Studies have had conflicting results on whether flaxseed helps with symptoms of menopause.
There is some evidence that yoga may reduce menopausal symptoms, but the effect is similar to other exercise interventions.
There is some evidence suggesting that hypnosis may help improve certain menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes. A 2015 position paper from the North American Menopause Society recommended hypnosis for managing hot flashes but acknowledged that favorable evidence is limited.
Results of studies have been inconsistent as to whether acupuncture is beneficial for menopausal symptoms.