Josephine P. Briggs, M.D.
Many women suffer from the bothersome symptoms associated with menopause. Hot flashes, in particular, are a common problem for women my age. For decades, hormone therapy such as estrogen or progestin was the common treatment for these symptoms, but findings from the Women’s Health Initiative research program raised serious concerns about the long-term safety of menopausal hormone therapy. These concerns are one reason that many women are turning to mind and body practices and natural products to help with these symptoms. But how useful are these practices?
Researchers have looked at mind and body therapies for menopausal symptoms and have found that yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, and meditation-based programs may help reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms. However, there is little evidence that many natural products, including black cohosh, red clover, soy isoflavone supplements, and DHEA, are helpful. It is also important to note that natural products marketed for the relief of menopausal symptoms can have side effects and can interact with other supplements or medications.
We have information on our Web site on what the science says about complementary health practices for menopausal symptoms. If you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms, I encourage you to take a look at this information. Get the facts on the research so you can be an informed consumer, and be sure to talk with your health care provider about any practice you are considering. Take care and be well!