Study debunks the myth about herbal
Scientists have found no strong evidence proving
the efficacy of commonly taken herbal remedies in
relieving troublesome menopausal symptoms. In fact,
for some of these medicines there is hardly any evidence
at all, according to the researchers. A large number
of women experience vasomotor symptoms around the
menopause, such as hot flushes and night sweats, prompted
by the sharp fall in oestrogen levels.
used herbal remedies to relieve menopausal symptoms
include black cohosh, red clover, dong quai, evening
primrose oil and ginseng. Others include wild yam
extract, chaste tree, hops, sage leaf, and kava kava.
However, according to the study, only a little good
quality evidence on the effectiveness of herbal medicines,
or how they might react with prescription medicines
is available. Generally speaking, safety has been
under-researched, which is a major concern given that
herbal remedies are often assumed to be "safe" just
on the ground that they are "natural," said the authors.
Usually published studies are poorly designed, include
too few participants, or don't last long enough to
be of real value. Also, the chemical make-up of various
preparations of the same herb may differ, which can
make it difficult to compare trial results.
drugs regulator, Medicines and Healthcare products
Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has given a Traditional
Herbal Registration to Menoherb, which contains black
cohosh, under a scheme designed to boost the safety
of herbal products on sale. However, the authors said
that clinical trial data on black cohosh are "equivocal,"
with some studies suggesting that the remedy works
well, while others suggest that it does not relieve
symptoms effectively. One of the potential side-effects
of black cohosh is liver toxicity. The authors said
that there is "no convincing evidence" that red clover
extract is effective. Also little evidence is there
one way or other for dong quai, evening primrose oil,
wild yam, chaste tree, hops or sage. The study, titled
'Herbal medicines for menopausal symptoms' is published
in the latest issue of the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin