Black cohosh proves ineffective in relieving symptoms of menopause

According to a recent study, black cohosh does not significantly relieve hot flashes and night sweats in menopausal women.

According to a recent study, black cohosh does not significantly relieve hot flashes and night sweats in menopausal women.

Hormone replacement therapy has long been the treatment of choice to treat menopausal symptoms, until the results of a substantial study demonstrated that estrogen-progestin hormone supplements increase the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Since then, many women have stopped taking them, turning instead to natural alternatives such as isoflavones and black cohosh. However, like most herbal treatments, studies on their efficacy were not available.

In a recently published year-long study, 351 menopausal women were given either black cohosh, hormones, a placebo or a mixture of medicinal plants. Those who took hormones obtained the greatest relief for their hot flashes and night sweats, with an average decrease of four episodes per day. Those who took black cohosh or the herbal mixture noted a decrease of less than one episode per day, as did those who took the placebo. It is therefore safe to say, the herbal medicines tested in this study proved entirely useless.

These results are quite a disappointment for women looking for natural alternative ways to treat their symptoms of menopause. According to many gynaecologists, if hot flashes become a hindrance and affect a woman’s quality of life, hormone replacement therapy may be considered. However, most of them will try to prescribe the lowest dose possible, and for the shortest time possible. The decision should only be reached once the hazards and benefits of this type of treatment have been carefully considered and evaluated with the treating physician. If this course of treatment is chosen, he or she is likely to recommend a close follow-up to nip a potential problem in the bud.

Do not despair, hot flashes are temporary! They usually disappear after a few years. But for a woman going through menopause, it feels like eternity! Many pharmaceutical companies are currently trying to find an alternative medication to hormone replacement therapy. Some antidepressants and antiepileptic medications already on the market can potentially bring some relief.

Many women find that certain choices they make help diminish hot flashes and night sweats. For example, wearing a few layers of clothing that can be removed or put back on when needed, sleeping in a cool room, doing physical exercise daily, avoiding spicy foods, hot drinks and alcohol, or taking cool baths and showers are useful to some women.

Share any tips you may have with your friends. As you know, support from our girlfriends is always good medicine!

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