For women feeling the heat of menopause, a little red plant may be the key for the treatment of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
A new study has shown that a chemical in the red clover, a wild plant commonly used for livestock grazing, seems to be safe and effective at reducing the side effects of menopause, particularly hot flashes. This chemical, isoflavone, has been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, but this is the first study to show that isoflavones do not seem to increase a woman's risk of other serious diseases.
Up to this point, the most common treatment for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms has been hormone-replacement therapy, which works by replacing the estrogen that is no longer produced once a woman reaches menopause. While hormone replacement therapy is effective, it has caused concerns because it significantly raises a woman's risk of uterine and breast cancer.
Therefore, isoflavones from the red clover may present a safe and effective alternative for women seeking relief from menopause symptoms.
"Isoflavones have been suggested as a promising alternative because they seem to avoid undesired estrogen-related effects," write the study authors in Maturitas.
For the study, researchers from the University of Vienna recruited 109 women over the ago of 40 who had begun menopause at least a year ago. They were each placed into one of two groups; one group received 80 mg of isoflavone twice daily, the active component in red clover, while the other group received a placebo.
After 90 days, each group stopped taking their pills for a week and the researchers then placed them into the opposite group. So, each woman in the study had a 90 day period of taking the isoflavone.
At the end of the study, the majority of the women reported a relief in their symptoms after using the isoflavones. More importantly, the authors noted that the women's uterine lining was unchanged by the drug, suggesting that isoflavones do not increase a woman's risk for uterine cancer.
Additionally, the researchers found that the drug does not have any affect on other hormones in a woman's body, further bolstering their suggestion that red clover is safe to use. Some older studies have even shown that besides lowering the frequency and severity of hot flashes, red clover may even lower the risk of heart disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis that is tied to menopause.
"This study provides further evidence for a role of isoflavones in the treatment of menopausal disorders and for their safety," the authors write.