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Plant Based Therapies and Menopause

Posted 7/6/2016

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  For many women, an early and intense menopause is part of cancer treatment. For others, surgery or chemotherapy or hormonal therapies can bring on something like a second menopause. Since the most common treatments for menopause symptoms contain estrogen, they are verboten for women with estrogen-related cancers. It is important to note here that the most highly lauded plant based treatments or natural treatments work because some plants have something v like estrogen in them, referred to as phytoestrogens.

  From Eureka Alert! Science News comes this review of more than 60 studies. The conclusions are that some plant treatments help a little with vaginal dryness and hot flashes, but not with night sweats. Here it is:

Some plant-based therapies associated with modest improvement in menopausal symptoms

An analysis of more than 60 studies suggests that some plant-based therapies are associated with modest reductions in the frequency of hot flashes and vaginal dryness but no significant reduction in night sweats, according to a study appearing in the June 21 issue of JAMA.

Medical treatments for symptoms associated with menopause are available, including hormone replacement therapy. However, given the potentially negative health consequences of hormone replacement therapy on cardiovascular health and breast cancer, 40 percent to 50 percent of women in Western countries choose to use complementary therapies, including plant-based therapies. A broad range of plant-based therapies may improve menopausal symptoms. These therapies include the oral use of phytoestrogens such as dietary soy isoflavones and soy extracts; herbal remedies such as red clover and black cohosh; and Chinese and other medicinal herbs. Although associations of these therapies with menopausal symptoms have been evaluated in randomized trials, most of these studies were limited by sample size, a short follow-up period, suboptimal quality, and inconsistent findings.

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