Chinese herbal medicine helps menopause symptoms

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By Jimmy Downs

Saturday Sept 29, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study in the journal Menopause suggests that a Chinese herbal medicine preparation called Dang Gui Buxue Tang can help relieve menopause symptoms like hot flashes.

The phase II clinical trial was intended to investigate the dose-response relationship of the Chinese medicine with short-term menopausal symptoms and quality of life in postmenopausal women.

The randomized double-blind and multiple dose trial involved 60 postmenopausal women who suffered severe hot flashes and night sweats at the time of enrollment.  Participants were asked to use the Chinese herbal medicine at 1.5, 3.0, or 6.0 g/day for 12 weeks.  

Primary outcomes monitored in the study included vasomotor symptoms, Greene Climacteric Scale  score, and Menopause-Specific Quality of Life  score, and secondary outcomes were serum hormones and lipid profiles.

There was a difference in the effect of the Chinese medicine observed in different dose groups.  The greatest improvement in psychological/psychosocial experience was found in the group receiving 6.0 g of Dang Gyui Buxue Tang per day.

Both 3.0 and 6.0 grams of Dang Gui Buxue Tang per day were associated with significantly reduced frequency and severity of hot flashes and night sweats, 14.5 to 21.2% reduction in hot flashes and 28.6 to 39.6 % reduction in night sweats among the group receiving 3.0 g per day, compared to 34.9 to 37.4% reduction in hot flashes and 10.1 to 12.8% reduction in night sweats among the group receiving 6.0 g per day.

No within- or between- group difference was observed in hormones and lipid profiles.

The researchers concluded "DBT (Tang Gui Buxue Tang) preparations at 6.0 g/day significantly improve physical and psychological scores and significantly reduce vasomotor symptoms from baseline. The treatment was well tolerated, with no serious adverse events noted during the 12-week intervention period. The changes do not affect hormones and lipid profiles."

The common treatment for menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats is hormone replacement therapy, which is effective, but long term use can increase risk of heart disease and breast cancer.  

Bioidentical hormones are also used by some women.  It should be noted that according to the Food and Drug Administration, use of bioidentical hormones has not been proved to be safer than the conventional hormone replacement therapy.

Women with menopause symptoms who need to be treated may want to consider non-hormone remedies as a priority.  But should hormone therapy be justified, patients should consider using the conventional hormone therapy.

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