Hot Flash Remedies – Hormonal Versus Herbal
Hot flash remedies are sought after by 75% of women over age 50. That is the number of women over 50 estimated to be experiencing them.
The traditional medicine approach to hot flash remedies was a one fits all approach of hormone replacement therapy or HRT. That is, until recent research has shown that HRT increases the risk of breast cancer and heart disease, plus a number of other health problems.
HRT is no longer recommended for menopausal relief because of these risks. But there are natural alternatives. These include changes in lifestyle and diet, nutritional and herbal remedies.
First let’s look at the facts concerning hormone replacement therapy, then at herbal remedies.
Hormone replacement therapy and menopause-risky business.
In 2002 the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that rocked the world of medicine. Called the Women’s Health Initiative Trial, the study followed 160,000 women between 1993 and 1998. The study compared health outcomes for women on HRT (Premarin-estrogens from pregnant mare’s urine, and Provera-synthetic progesterone) with women who were not..
The study reported that the women on HRT had greater risk for a variety of health problems:
* Breast cancer increased by 26%
* Strokes increased by 41%
* Heart attacks increased by 29%
Note that the study reported on the ill effects of Premarin (estrogens extracted from pregnant mare’s urine) and a synthetic form of progesterone. That is to say that these ill effects were shown to be associated with taking hormones foreign to the human body.
Estrogen from horses is not the same as human estrogens. And the molecular structure of the progesterone in Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate) is different from human progesterone. In other words this study did not assess the health benefit or ill effects of supplementing with bio-identical hormones.
Bio-identical hormones are “identical” to what your body makes naturally. Most medical doctors (even endocrinologists) do not prescribe bio-identical hormones. “Why not?” is the million dollar question.
The answer is partly that a pharmaceutical companies have no incentive to produce bio-identical hormones because they cannot patent a hormone natural hormones. When a pharmaceutical company creates a new drug it has a patent right on the hormone or synthetic drug it created. This gives it the exclusive right to its manufacture and sell it, charging whatever it chooses. It is not unheard of for drug companies to mark up a drug 10,000% and more.
Bio-identical hormones cannot be patented, and so marketplace competition drives the price down. Drug companies are not interested in selling products with a low markup, and so they don’t.
On the other side of the equation are medical doctors, who have been brainwashed by drug companies to prescribe only synthetic drugs and not the body’s own bio-identical hormones. It’s lunacy.
In fairness to M.D.’s another reason that they don’t prescribe bio-identical hormones is that there has been very little clinical research on their use. To date most of the research money available has gone into validating synthetic hormones. Fortunately, more and more doctors are now prescribing bio-identical hormones anyway.
Herbal remedies for hot flashes.
Plants such as soybeans, red clover, kudzu and others contain what are called phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are natural estrogens made by the plants normally. They are not bio-identical to human estrogen, but do act like weak estrogens in the human body.
The phytoestrogens found in different plants are unique to the plant. Consequently each plant herb (with a different plant estrogen) will have a different effect in humans.
Clinical research into herbal remedies such as soy, red clover, kudzu several others. shows them to be only marginally helpful for relief of hot flashes and night sweats.
That is except for one, which has only recently been introduced to the United States (in 2009). The herb is a specific extract of Siberian rhubarb root that researchers call ERr 731.
Siberian rhubarb root extract
This herbal extract has been used in Germany for effective relief of hot flashes, night sweats and many other symptoms of menopause, all without any negative side effects.
Several clinical studies have confirmed that Siberian rhubarb root extract significantly reduces menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. Amazingly, one study showed that this hot flash remedy reduced hot flashes by 72%. This makes (low dose) hormone replacement therapy and Siberian rhubarb root extract equally effective hot flash remedies.
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