Plant-based therapies were associated with “modest reductions” in the frequency of hot flashes and vaginal dryness in menopause, but did not significantly reduce night sweats, according to a systematic review from Dr. Oscar H. Franco and his associates.
A total of 62 studies covering 6,653 women were included in the review. Phytoestrogen use decreased vaginal dryness scores by 0.31 and reduced the number of daily hot flashes by 1.31, but did not reduce the number of night sweats. Individual phytoestrogen interventions, such as dietary and supplementary soy isoflavones, decreased vaginal dryness scores by 0.26 and reduced the number of daily hot flashes by 0.79.
While evidence was limited, Chinese medicinal herbs had no association with a reduction in menopausal symptoms, while non-Chinese medicinal herbs reduced the number of daily hot flashes by 1.62 in one randomized controlled trial.
“This review underscores the lack of data on adverse effects associated with long-term use of plant-based therapies. Information on any detrimental health effects, typically available in long-term intervention studies, is essential, given their potential relevance to postmenopausal health,” Dr. Franco and his colleagues wrote.
Read the full study in JAMA ( doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.8012 ).