Menopause supplements are suddenly everywhere, but do they really work?

Imagine going through menopause without Actually coping with menopause. Say goodbye to hot flashes, weight gain and irritability. Painful intercourse is not a thing in your world. All you need is to take one or two pills a day.

If this sounds too good to be true, you’re right. There is no magic pill that can make menopause go away. But with few options for menopause care, women vie for some form of control against these troublesome symptoms.

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Several health companies are responding to the call for help. Some fem-tech leaders are disrupting the menopause market with companies focused on undoing the stigma and inequality associated with menopause. Dietary supplement brands also claim a major share in this arena. With more women seeking natural alternatives to pharmaceutical treatments, companies have seen a dramatic increase in sales of herbal solutions. Financial experts predict that the menopause supplement industry will grow to $22.7 billion by 2028.

Now more than ever, there is a growing movement to support women during and after menopause. Dietary supplements may be part of the answer, but it all depends on whether they can back up their health claims. Phenology’s Daily Balance gummies, for example, use genistein as an active ingredient that has been shown to reduce hot flashes in three different clinical studies. With little oversight from the FDA, it’s up to the consumer to investigate whether a supplement is good or all the hype.

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Phenology is a sponsor of Flow, however, all products in this article have been independently selected by our editors. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission on the sale.

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The number one question when it comes to any type of drug is whether it will work. When it comes to menopause supplements, the answer is maybe. It all depends on the ingredients.

Fat black

A popular ingredient for getting rid of hot flashes and night sweats is black cohosh. This white-flowered plant has historically been used as a pain reliever that calms the nervous system. It works by binding to opioid receptors found throughout the brain. For example, one brain imaging study found that activating opioid receptors in the hypothalamus (often called the brain’s control coordination center) partially helped restore core body temperature for postmenopausal women. Black cohosh also targeted opioid receptors in emotional areas of the brain that could affect a person’s perception of pain.

While black cohosh relieves discomfort, does it actually eliminate hot flashes? The answer is mixed. A 2018 study found that women who took black cohosh had a significant reduction in the severity and number of hot flashes compared to women who took other herbal remedies. Meanwhile, this Phase 3 clinical trial failed to find any evidence between black cohosh and fewer hot flashes. In the study, women who took black cohosh for one month were 20 percent less likely to have hot flashes. However, those taking an identical-looking pill that didn’t contain any medications showed a 27 percent decrease in hot flashes.

One reason for the conflicting results between studies is that not all Black Cohosh behave the same way. One of the chemicals produced by the plant is vital for temperature regulation, but not all black cohosh plants express the gene-encoding enzyme needed to produce this phytochemical, explains Yufang Lin, MD, an integrative medicine specialist, at Cleveland Clinic.

Evening primrose oil

Evening primrose is a yellow flower commonly used by Native Americans to heal bruises, wounds, and swollen skin. For menopause, the real value is the oil in its seeds. The oil contains omega-6s which help create the building blocks for different molecules. There is some research suggesting that evening primrose oil may help with menopausal night sweats as it disrupts the blood vessel activity that causes these symptoms.

The medicinal oil has also been explored for the treatment of increased irritability, anxiety and low mood of menopausal women. In an 8-week trial, researchers found evening primrose oil to be helpful in improving people’s psychological symptoms during menopause, though they caution that a longer trial is needed to truly understand the efficacy and safety of the oil. ‘oil. In fact, the National Institute of Health warns that there isn’t enough evidence to support the use of evening primrose oil for any health condition, including menopausal symptoms. A review by the American Academy of Family Physicians, for example, found no benefit in taking the oil every day for six months and reducing hot flashes.

Soy

A popular ingredient for soothing menopausal symptoms is soy. Soybeans contain chemicals that mimic estrogen and the idea is that it helps with hot flashes and night sweats because it helps compensate for low estrogen production. Research on the plant has had mixed results. There have been studies that have noted a modest improvement with hot flashes and the number of times it happens. Additionally, menopausal women appear to show lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease when they take regular soy supplements. Meanwhile, other long-term studies have reported no change in menopausal symptoms or the rate of bone loss when taking soy supplements.

Valerian root extract

Valerian root has historically been used as a natural sleep aid because it acts as a sedative. The idea is that it raises the level of a brain chemical called GABA. GABA activation has a calming effect as it slows down neural activity, allowing your mind to relax enough to fall asleep. Since insomnia is a common complaint during menopause, valerian root can help someone sleep better.

The herb is also considered a phytoestrogen. Acting like estrogen, it should help restore balance to declining hormone levels. Taking a pill with a high dose of valerian helped reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes in menopausal women. According to the NIH, valerian is generally safe for short-term use in adults, though how it affects the body with extended use is still debatable. They note that studies between valerian root and menopausal symptoms are promising, but there’s little evidence to know for sure.

The FDA doesn’t regulate drug supplements, so a product can technically be sold without proof that it works. As long as the product doesn’t claim to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure disease, anything is fair game. Another thing to consider is whether the natural ingredients found in the supplements contain the right dosage to work or if they are safe to consume.

Supplements are unregulated and can cause serious health problems, such as liver toxicity, said Pelin Batur, MD, a menopause specialist Cleveland Clinic. Just because something comes from a health food store doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe.

Hormone therapy remains the best way to relieve the range of symptoms you may experience during menopause. Because the ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone during menopause, treatment restores hormone levels with artificial hormones. It can be taken as a pill, a patch, and as a topical medication.

There is limited research finding greater effects when people combine hormone therapy with dietary supplements.

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