Many women have turned to a variety of dietary supplements to help curb hot flashes, sometimes with the mistaken belief that "natural" products can cause no harm. All supplements have potentially harmful side effects, and supplements can also interact with medications you're taking for other medical conditions. Always review what you're taking with your doctor.
Dietary supplements commonly used for menopause symptoms include:
Jun. 11, 2011
- Plant estrogens. Women in Asian countries, where soy is a regular part of the diet, are less likely to report hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms than are women in other parts of the world. One reason might be related to ingestion of estrogen-like compounds in soy, red clover and many other plants. However, studies giving soy to women with hot flashes have generally found no benefit.
- Black cohosh. Black cohosh has been popular among many women with menopausal symptoms. But there's little evidence that black cohosh is effective, and the supplement can be harmful to the liver.
- Ginseng. While ginseng may help with mood symptoms and insomnia, it doesn't appear to reduce hot flashes.
- Dong quai. Study results indicate that dong quai isn't effective for hot flashes. The supplement can increase the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications, which can cause bleeding problems.
- Kava. Kava may ease anxiety, but not hot flashes. It also can damage the liver.
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- Midlife transitions. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/ab013.cfm. Accessed April 14, 2011.
- Casper RF, et al. Menopausal hot flashes. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 14, 2011.
- Hot flashes. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..C2009-0-38600-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&about=true&uniqId=230100505-53. Accessed April 14, 2011.
- Loprinzi CL, et al. Hot flashes. In: Walsh D, et al. Palliative Medicine. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?sid=1146104700&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05674-8..50177-8--cesec2&isbn=978-0-323-05674-8&type=bookPage§ionEid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05674-8..50177-8--cesec2&uniqId=239287562-5. Accessed April 14, 2011.
- Gaudet T. Menopause: Integrative therapy. In: Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-2/0/1494/0.html. Accessed April 15, 2011.
- Menopausal symptoms and CAM: What the science says. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/menopause-science.htm. Accessed April 15, 2011.