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Little or no evidence that herbal remedies relieve menopausal symptoms

Little or no evidence that herbal remedies relieve menopausal symptoms

There is no strong evidence either way for several herbal remedies commonly taken to relieve troublesome menopausal symptoms, concludes the January issue of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB). And for some, there is hardly any evidence at all.

Between 30% and 70% of women in industrialised countries will experience vasomotor symptoms around the menopause, such as hot flushes and night sweats, prompted by the sharp fall in oestrogen levels.

On average, such symptoms last for around four years, but in around one in 10 women, they can last more than 12 years.

Herbal remedies commonly used to relieve menopausal symptoms include black cohosh, red clover, Dong quai, evening primrose oil, and ginseng. Others include wild yam extract, chaste tree, hops, sage leaf, and kava kava.

But little good quality evidence on the effectiveness of herbal medicines, or how they might react with prescription medicines is available, says DTB.

And, in general, safety has been under researched, which is a major concern given that herbal remedies are often assumed to be “safe” just on the grounds that they are “natural,” says DTB.

Published studies are often poorly designed, include too few participants, or don’t last long enough to be of real value.

Commenting on the move, DTB editor Dr Ike Iheanacho, said:

“For over 45 years, DTB has strived to produce rigorously researched information and advice for healthcare professionals, to help ensure patients get the best possible care. The newly redesigned version of the publication aims to continue and build on this tradition.”

DTB

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