Eight weeks of supplementation with the herbal combination led to a significantly lower Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index score (a lower score is a sign of better sleep), according to a study with 76 postmenopausal women.
“The results of the current study reported that the Fennel-Valerian capsule was effective for relieving sleep disorders, the severity, and frequency of hot flashes compared with the placebo,” wrote researchers from Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Iran in the Journal of Menopausal Medicine. “Therefore, this extract can be an alternative to hormone therapy.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), menopause is one point in a continuum of life stages for women and marks the end of their reproductive years. The loss of ovarian follicular function in women usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 years, as a natural part of biological aging.
Perimenopause means "around menopause" and refers to the time during which the female body makes the natural transition to menopause. This transitional phase begins with changes in the length of time between periods and may last for 4 to 15 years.
Hormonal changes associated with perimenopause and menopause can affect physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being. Associated symptoms vary substantially from person to person and can last for several years. Changes in the regularity and flow of the menstrual cycle, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, pain during sexual intercourse, incontinence, difficulty sleeping, and changes in mood, depression, and/or anxiety, are common symptoms experienced.
Currently, hormone replacement therapy is the first line of treatment for menopausal symptoms. As the Women’s Health Initiative’s (WHI) randomized clinical trials suggests, health risks associated with hormone replacement therapy have led to more women seeking pharmaceutical alternatives such as plant-based products and dietary supplements. This growing demand for safe and effective menopausal products highlights a commercial opportunity for manufactures, brands and retailers.
The menopausal market size is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.29% from 2022 to 2030, according to Grand View Research, with the North American Menopause Society estimating there will be one billion menopausal women globally by 2025.
For the new study, menopausal women were randomly assigned to a placebo group or to receive one gram of the Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Mill) extract combination per day for eight weeks.
Results from the 70 women who completed the study indicated that the herbal supplement was associated with a lower Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index score, compared to placebo, after both one month and two months of supplementation.
While the frequency and severity of hot flashes in the fennel-valerian groups was significantly lower compared to placebo after both one and two months, both groups displayed increases in the mean duration of hot flashes.
“Increasing the duration of hot flashes can be an undesirable variable for women. However, the cause may be due to the low sample size of the study,” wrote the researchers.
“This study found that fennel-valerian extract was effective for relieving sleep disorders as well as the severity and frequency of hot flashes compared with a placebo,” they concluded.
Source: Journal of Menopausal Medicine
2023, Volume 29, Issue 1, Pages 21-28. Doi: 10.6118/jmm.22026
“Effect of Fennel-Valerian Extract on Hot Flashes and Sleep Disorders in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Trial”
Authors: E. Jenabi, et al.