A supplement made from the herb black cohosh has been found to be an effective alternative treatment to oestrogen for women suffering from the menopause.
A study published in the current issue of The Journal of Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine showed that RemiFemin Menopause, an over-the-counter supplement produced by Schaper & Brümmer worked in a different way to oestrogen-based treatments in combating the symptoms.
Dr Eckehard Liske, lead author of the study, said: "This data confirms that RemiFemin provides a safe and effective option for women who want to relieve menopause symptoms naturally. The product reduces menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, mood swings, night sweats and occasional sleeplessness without affecting hormone levels or specific cell lines associated with some female cancers."
In addition to examining the product's lack of oestrogenic effect, the study compared the effectiveness and safety of two dosage forms of RemiFemin Menopause. After six months, the currently recommended daily dose (40 mg) showed similar benefits compared to a three-fold higher dose. Specifically, the study showed that the majority of women saw a 70 per cent reduction in their physical and emotional menopausal symptoms when they took RemiFemin twice daily for 12 weeks.
The results also show that doses above 40 mg per day do not demonstrate any significant therapeutic advantages nor does the higher dose result in a significantly greater number of side effects.
The controlled, randomised, double blind, multi-centre trial was conducted at four gynaecological clinics in Poland in accordance with the Good Clinical Practice Guideline. The study included 150 peri- and post-menopausal women between the ages of 42 and 60 with moderate to severe menopause symptoms. The study was conducted over a 12-week treatment period, with the majority of women enrolling in a continuation study to 24 weeks. A number of scales were used to measure menopause symptoms, including the Kupperman Menopause Index and the Self-Rating Depression Scale.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a commonly prescribed treatment for relief of distressing menopausal symptoms, but there are a number of possible side effects associated with the treatment that have caused scientists to raise questions regarding the safety of HRT use in all women. Because HRT is contraindicated in certain populations, particularly in patients with oestrogen sensitive cancers of the breast and uterus, natural herbal treatments are gaining popularity for the relief of short-term symptoms of menopause.
While many herbal remedies have not been widely studied, there is a substantial body of evidence to suggest that black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) extracts can be effective for the treatment of menopause symptoms. The German Commission E, a regulatory body established by the German Federal Health Authorities to approve food and medicines, has approved black cohosh as a treatment for menopausal symptoms, and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has issued guidelines on the use of botanical menopause treatments, which consider black cohosh to be helpful for hot flushes.
Schaper & Brümmer, which funded the research, claimed that RemiFemin Menopause was the most studied black cohosh supplement and that it had been the subject of numerous clinical trials as well as open-label studies monitoring its effects in physicians' practices.