Research: SEIDL and STEWART,

Listed in Issue 40

Abstract

SEIDL and STEWART, Toronto Hospital, Canada review the scientific literature (115 references) regarding common alternative remedies for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.

Background

Methodology

The authors searched MEDLINE, CINAHL and HEALTH databases from 1966-mid-97 for English language published articles. More than 200 references were reviewed and 85 were selected for citation based upon specific references to alternative medicine for menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, effects of changing oestrogen levels, such as irregular menses, vaginal dryness and to reported side effects of the treatments.

Results

The scientific literature was classified under the headings of nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, homoeopathic remedies and physical approaches. The authors discovered scientific evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of alternative treatments for the menopause. The strongest evidence emerged in favour of phytoestrogens, which are in high concentrations as isoflavones in soy products.

Conclusion

In the available controlled studies, the strongest data support phytoestrogens for their role in diminishing menopausal symptoms related to oestrogen deficiency and for their possible protective effects upon bones and the cardiovascular system. Required are randomised controlled trials, dosage standardisation and accurate safety and efficacy labelling, which will help to ensure proper use of alternative remedies.

References

Seidl MM and Stewart DE Alternative treatments for menopausal symptoms. Systematic review of scientific and lay literature. Can Fam Physician 44: 1299-309 June 1998.

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