Those of us women who suffer from menopause symptoms – hot flashes in particular – often wonder if menopause supplements really work. Well, our friends at ConsumerLabs have tested some of the more popular herbal remedies for menopause as well as the hormone creams.
Before we get down to the findings, let’s briefly recap what the various popular menopause supplements are:
Soy and Red Clover Isoflavones:
Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like plant compounds, although they are considerably weaker than estrogen itself. The most well-studied phytoestrogens are the isoflavones, particularly those found in soy and red clover. Unfortunately, not all women handle isoflavones the same way, so test results will vary.
Soy has been associated with reductions in menopause-related hot flashes. However, the results were mixed depending upon which specific isoflavone was given. Apparently there is a fermented soy germ product rich in a different soy isoflavone, daidzein, another isoflavone called genistein and even other aglycone isoflavones.
Red Clover and Kudzu:
These two plants also contain isoflavones. Again, results were varied with these two supplements.
Often misspelled as Black Cohosh, it is most often used for the treatment of menopause symptoms. Some evidence suggests that this herbal remedy for menopause may reduce hot flashes, relieve vaginal dryness, and possibly protect the bones from osteoporosis. Unlike isoflavones, black cohosh does not have general estrogen-like actions. Rather, it may act like estrogen only in certain places: the brain/hypothalamus (reducing hot flashes), bone (potentially fighting osteoporosis), and vaginal epithelium (reducing vaginal dryness).
Progesterone is one of the two primary female hormones. For use as a drug or topical cream, progesterone is synthesized from chemicals found in soy or Mexican yam and is called a bioidentical hormone when given like this. Although the evidence is mixed, use of progesterone cream may decrease menopausal hot flashes but does not provide enough progesterone to prevent bone loss or improve bone density.
The Isoflavones : look for at least 15 mg of genistein or at least 24 mg daily of daidzein on the label.
Black Cohosh: ConsumerLabs was unable to test for amounts of black cohosh due to general scientific uncertainty over the chemical constituents, however, they did test for lead. Look for products made from root extract as opposed to root powder to avoid extra lead.