You likely see this every day.
Given that chiropractic care enjoys a great deal of popularity among middle-age adults, it only stands to reason that you will see a number of female patients who are menopausal and experiencing unpleasant symptoms related to their transition to menopause. If so, they are likely among the two-thirds of women who experience symptoms such as hot flashes, breast tenderness, vaginal dryness, and fatigue.
Unfortunately, they may also be among the 75-90 percent of women who do not discuss their symptoms with their regular, primary-care doctor.1,2 Furthermore, those women who do discuss their menopausal symptoms with their doctor may not want to undergo hormone therapy, which is the standard treatment.1,2
There is clearly a gap in women’s healthcare when it comes to treating the symptoms of menopause that must be addressed. Fortunately, there are several supplements that may help ease the symptoms of menopause. What does the research tell us about some of these supplements to help women have an easier menopausal transition?
1.Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Black cohosh is perhaps one of the best known of all vitamins and supplements, aside from soy, when it comes to treating the symptoms of menopause. A 2003 article from the journal Maturitas investigated the connection between black cohosh and hot flashes in a group of 135 women, ages 35 to 52, who had survived breast cancer.3
The researchers assigned the patients to either receive 20 mg of a supplement containing black cohosh or standard care. Almost half of the women assigned to the black cohosh reported being free of hot flashes. Furthermore, only 24 percent of these women reported severe hot flashes, while 74 percent of those in the standard-care group reported such symptoms.3
2. Soy Protein
A 1999 article in the journal Climacteric studied the effects of soy protein on menopausal symptoms.4 A group of 37 women with estrogen deficiency were randomized to receive 40 mg or 160 mg of soy protein supplements, or placebo, over the course of 12 weeks. At the end of the study, patients taking the soy protein supplement showed a statistically significant increase in “good” high-density lipids (HDL) of 18 percent.4
There was also a reduction in both triglycerides and “bad” low-density lipids (LDL). This appears to show a benefit for soy protein in terms of an improved lipid profile.
A more recent study from the Iranian Journal of Public Health shows some benefit from soy in treating the frequency and severity of hot flashes for a group of 204 women.5 Patients received either 50 mg of soy isoflavone daily or a placebo and were asked to track the frequency and severity of their hot flashes.
At the end of both six and 12 weeks, those patients taking soy reported fewer hot flashes than those taking the placebo. The patients taking soy also reported that their hot flashes were less severe at both the six- and 12-week mark.5
3. Red Clover
Although not as popular as either black cohosh or soy, red clover has shown some promise in treating menopause symptoms. A 2003 article in JAMA looked at the efficacy of dietary supplements containing red clover in treating hot flashes.6
A group of 252 menopausal women who reported at least 35 hot flashes per week were randomized to receive either one of two different red clover supplements (Promensil, 82 mg per day; Rimostil, 57 mg per day), or placebo. At the end of the 12-week study, all three groups reported reductions in the daily, mean episodes of hot flashes, but the group taking Promensil reported a more rapid reduction in the number of hot flashes than did those in the Rimostil group.6
With the Baby Boomer population aging, and Gen X following on its heels, you will no doubt be seeing more female patients who may be suffering from symptoms of menopause. Supplements can provide a safer, better tolerated alternative than hormone therapy to help your patients through this transition of life.
Geller SE, Studee L. Botanical and dietary supplements for menopausal symptoms: What works, what does not. Journal of Womens Health (Larchmont). 2005;14(7):634-649.
Brosage P. Hormone therapy: The woman’s decision. Contemporary Nurse Practitioner. 1995;1:3-4.
Hernández Muñoz G1, Pluchino S. Cimicifuga racemosa for the treatment of hot flushes in women surviving breast cancer. Maturitas. 2003 Mar 14;44 Suppl 1:S59-S65.
Knight DC, Howes JB, Eden JA. The effect of Promensil, an isoflavone extract, on menopausal symptoms. Climacteric. 1999;2:79-84.
Vahid Dastjerdi M, Eslami B, Alsadat Sharifi M, et al. Effect of soy isoflavone on hot flushes, endometrial thickness, and breast clinical as well as sonographic features. Iranian Journal of Public Health. 2018;47(3):382-389.
Tice JA, Ettinger B, Ensrud K, et al, Cummings SR. Phytoestrogen supplements for the treatment of hot flashes: The Isoflavone Clover Extract (ICE) Study: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2003;290:207-214.