Complementary and alternative therapies for the management of menopause-related symptoms: a systematic evidence review

Arch Intern Med. 2006 Jul 24;166(14):1453-65. doi: 10.1001/archinte.166.14.1453.


Background: Nearly half of adults in the United States use complementary and alternative therapies each year for a variety of reasons. These therapies are increasingly popular among women seeking alternatives to treatment with estrogen for managing menopausal symptoms. The objective of this review was to assess the effectiveness of complementary and alternative therapies in the management of menopausal symptoms.

Data sources: MEDLINE, PsychINFO, Cochrane Library database, MANTIS, and AMED.

Study selection: Full-text, English-language, randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses comparing a complementary or alternative therapy with placebo or control for treatment of menopausal symptoms.

Data extraction: All eligible trials were reviewed, abstracted into evidence tables, and rated for quality.

Data synthesis: Seventy randomized controlled trials met inclusion criteria. Forty-eight studies of phytoestrogens and other biologically based agents showed mixed results. Smaller numbers of studies using mind-body, energy, manipulative, and body-based therapies and whole medical systems showed little benefit in treating menopausal symptoms.

Conclusions: Although individual trials suggest benefits from certain therapies, data are insufficient to support the effectiveness of any complementary and alternative therapy in this review for the management of menopausal symptoms. Many of these potential therapies warrant further study in trials with rigorous scientific designs to determine benefit and safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Menopause / physiology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome