Menopausal women suffer from a variety of symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats, which can affect quality of life. Although it has been the treatment of choice for relieving these symptoms, hormone therapy has been associated with increased breast cancer risk leading many women to search for natural, efficacious, and safe alternatives such as botanical supplements. Data from clinical trials suggesting that botanicals have efficacy for menopausal symptom relief have been controversial, and several mechanisms of action have been proposed including estrogenic, progestogenic, and serotonergic pathways. Plant extracts with potential estrogenic activities include soy, red clover, kudzu, hops, licorice, rhubarb, yam, and chasteberry. Botanicals with reported progestogenic activities are red clover, hops, yam, and chasteberry. Serotonergic mechanisms have also been proposed since women taking antidepressants often report a reduction in hot flashes and night sweats. Black cohosh, kudzu, kava, licorice, and dong quai all either have reported 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 7 ligands or inhibit serotonin reuptake, therefore have potential serotonergic activities. Understanding the mechanisms of action of these natural remedies used for women's health could lead to more efficacious formulations and to the isolation of active components which have the potential of becoming effective medications in the future.
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.