September 11, 2012 — An estimated 6,000 women in the U.S. reach menopause every day (about 2 million annually). The most common menopausal complaints include hot flashes, sleep disturbances, anxiety, poor mood, and physical and mental exhaustion.
Hot flashes affect 80 percent of peri- or postmenopausal women, with 30 percent reporting hot flashes severe enough to seriously affect their quality of life. Conventional menopausal hormone therapies have potential risks, and the latest statistics from IMS Health show a steady downward trend in their use from 2006 to 2010.
Many healthcare professionals and their menopausal patients are seeking safer options that offer reliable relief.
Deanna Minich, PhD FACN, CNS, is vice president of scientific affairs at Metagenics Inc., a nutrigenomics and lifestyle medicine company. She is also a well-respected lecturer on women’s health issues and healthy aging. As a teaching clinician, Minich helps healthcare practitioners and patients discover nutritional and lifestyle medicine strategies for effectively relieving common menopausal symptoms.*
“Millions of women suffer every day from severe menopausal symptoms that often cause discomfort, exhaustion and even embarrassment,” said Minich. “With so many approaches, making a decision can be daunting. It’s important that a woman educate herself to be her own personal advocate in helping her healthcare provider develop appropriate recommendations.”
Minich compiled a list of five helpful tips women should consider when choosing an option to help relieve their menopausal symptoms:
Know your symptoms and medical history. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms or to the same degree, and your symptoms may change over time. The type and severity of your menopausal symptoms may also affect available choices for relief. Some women may not be eligible for certain conventional options based on their age or menopausal phase. Some may also have an increased risk of adverse events to certain options due to personal or family health history.
Research conventional options and understand the risks. Menopausal hormone therapies are not recommended for all women or for milder symptoms, and are typically recommended at the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time possible due to concerns of adverse events. And several other commonly recommended conventional options lack supported data on efficacy and safety in use for relief of menopausal symptoms.
Explore natural approaches for menopausal relief. Phytoestrogens (e.g., soy, flax, hesperidin, flax, hops, kudzu, red clover) and non-phytoestrogens (e.g., black cohosh, traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic botanicals) are widely recommended, but may not offer the same degree of menopausal relief or be an appropriate choice for all women.
However, a special and well-researched extract of Siberian rhubarb known as ERr 731 (the active ingredient in Metagenics’ Estrovera) offers a safer and well-tolerated approach that has also demonstrated comparable efficacy to hormone therapies for relieving hot flashes in placebo-controlled studies — without the associated risks. ERr 731 has also shown significant relief (compared to placebo) for other common menopausal symptoms.
Consult your doctor. Having an open dialogue with your physician is a vital step in the decision-making process. When considering a natural option — even those that may be available over the counter — consult a professional with experience recommending these approaches so protocol adjustments can be made if needed to find effective, personalized relief for menopausal symptoms.
Listen to your body and track progress. After you’ve done your due diligence by researching all available choices and talking with your doctor to develop a program, notice how your body reacts to it. Keeping a hot flash diary can help you identify if the recommendations are working effectively. If you experience adverse effects, it may necessary to revisit other options. The body is an important indicator of whether you’ve made the right decision, so pay close attention to what it’s telling you.
According to Minich, healthcare professionals in Europe have been successfully recommending ERr 731 since 1993 — with more than 60 million doses and no serious adverse events reported to date. Multiple, well-designed clinical studies that demonstrate effective relief with ERr 731 have been published.
And Metagenics’ Functional Medicine Research Center (FMRC) recently conducted a short-term clinical trial with Estrovera that demonstrated noticeable improvements in psychological symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depressed mood), somatic symptoms (e.g., hot flashes/night sweats) and urogenital symptoms (e.g., urinary tract symptoms, vaginal dryness) in just four weeks.
“In addition to finding the right option for menopausal symptoms, women need to look at this transition as an ideal time to adopt healthy habits — including healthy eating, appropriate nutritional supplementation (e.g., bone nutrition) and regular exercise — that help maintain body composition, bone density, cardiovascular health, blood sugar balance and cognitive health,” Minich said.
For more information on the natural management of menopause, with details on the benefits and science behind Siberian Rhubarb, healthcare practitioners may view the complementary Metagenics webinar “Scientific Breakthroughs in the Natural Treatment of Menopause” hosted by Minich.
Source: Metagenics Inc., metagenics.com
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.