Integrative Way: Hope for menopausal symptoms

Jun 27, 2011 By Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden

As many women know, the Women's Health Initiative Study from 2002 showed that estrogen was not the dream treatment for menopausal symptoms that we once thought it was; estrogen treatment after menopause, especially when combined with a progesterone (needed for women with an intact uterus), increases a woman's risk of several diseases, including breast cancer, stroke, dementia, blood clots, and possibly lung cancer.

Estrogen alone, used for who have had a hysterectomy, does seem to be a safer option, especially for women in their 50s, but many women still prefer to navigate the menopausal arena without prescription pills.

Thankfully, the results of some new research may provide women with a few more strategies for handling hot flashes and other .

The first study, which was just published in the journal Menopause, examined the impact of mindfulness on menopausal symptoms. In this study, Dr. James Carmody at the University of Massachusetts Medical School randomized 110 women with significant hot flashes and night sweats into two groups.

One group attended the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, a renowned eight-week meditation training program developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, also of the University of Massachusetts. These women attended weekly 2.5-hour classes where they learned the basic skills of mindfulness meditation, as well as body awareness and gentle yoga.

The second group received no intervention. At the end of the eight weeks, the women receiving the meditation training reported a significant reduction in stress and anxiety, as well as a significant improvement in their sleep and overall quality of life. Interestingly though, their hot flash frequency did not change; what changed was their perception of stress and their perceived capacity to deal with whatever symptoms were arising in their body, which ultimately led to the improved quality of life.

The results were sustained for at least three months after the completion of the study.

Many women also try soy foods for menopausal symptoms, hoping that the isoflavones in soy might help to stem the steam of hot flashes.

The data has not always been positive for soy, but some researchers have speculated that it's because we haven't used a high enough dose of these isoflavones to show a benefit.

In an interesting study published in the journal Menopause in 2009, researchers looked at the benefit of the isoflavone genistein for menopausal symptoms in a group of about 240 women.

Half the women in this study were given 54 mg of genistein per day, and half were given a placebo. At the end of 12 months, there was a 56 percent reduction in the average number of per day in the women taking the genestein. The genistein did not appear to have any negative effects on the lining of the uterus, suggesting that it is probably safe for women with .

Other studies also have suggested that it takes about 50 mg of isoflavones per day in order to reduce menopausal symptoms.

If you decide to give this a try, we recommend that you get your isoflavones from whole soy foods, and not from supplement pills. Any benefit should be apparent within six to eight weeks.

So there you have it - two more tips to help you navigate the menopausal years, and hopefully manage things without the need for prescription medications.

Explore further: FTC clears Sun Pharma's $4B purchase of competitor Ranbaxy

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Acupuncture may cool hot flashes

Sep 25, 2006

Researchers at Stanford University are planning further investigation to see if acupuncture can cool the hot flashes of menopausal women.

Menopausal hot flashes may be a good sign for heart

Feb 24, 2011

You are enjoying a night out with friends when it starts; first you feel flush, then a sensation of warmth crawls down your body. Soon you begin perspiring and you feel as if everyone around you can tell what is happening ...

Hormone therapy raises cancer risk

Jan 16, 2008

Menopausal women who take hormone combinations for their symptoms are more likely to get an uncommon type of breast cancer much earlier than experts believed.

Recommended for you

Why aren't there any human doctors in Star Wars?

Jan 30, 2015

Though set "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away," it isn't hard to see in the Star Wars films a vision of our own not so distant future. But Anthony Jones, a physician with a long background in health ...

Cambodia bans 'virgin surgery' adverts

Jan 29, 2015

The Cambodian government has ordered a hospital to stop advertising so-called virginity restoration procedures, saying it harms the "morality" of society.

What's happening with your donated specimen?

Jan 28, 2015

When donating blood, plasma, human tissue or any other bodily sample for medical research, most people might not think about how it's being used. But if you were told, would you care?

Amgen tops Street 4Q forecasts

Jan 27, 2015

Amgen Inc. cruised to a 27 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit and beat Wall Street expectations, due to higher sales of nearly all its medicines, tight cost controls and a tax benefit.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.