Treating Hot Flashes Without Hormones
Review Shows Estrogen May Work Better Than Nonhormonal Therapies
WebMD News Archive
Review's Results continued...
"These therapies may be most useful for highly symptomatic women who
cannot take estrogen but are not optimal choices for most women," write
Nelson and colleagues.
The researchers found no sign that red clover isoflavone extracts reduced
flashes. The results on soy isoflavone extract studies were
As Nelson's team noted, some studies were higher in quality than others.
Also, some trials included women who had had breast cancer and
were taking tamoxifen; those women may not represent other menopausal women.
Hot flashes are a common side effect of tamoxifen use. Those limits may make it
hard to draw definite conclusions.
The research review was "technically rigorous" but showed mixed
results, and several of the drugs studied can have side effects, states a
The editorialists were Jeffrey Tice, MD, and Deborah Grady, MD, MPH, of the
medicine department at the University of California, San Francisco. Grady also
works at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
"Antidepressants, clonidine, and gabapentin have been marketed for a
long time but large, long-term trials (similar to the Women's Health Initiative
trials of hormone therapy) are lacking," write Tice and Grady.
"Safety is a particular concern for isoflavone extracts because they
contain estrogenic compounds and thus may be subject to some of the same
long-term adverse effects as hormone therapy," the editorialists add.
More research is needed to understand how hot flashes work, write Tice and
Grady. Meanwhile, they offer these tips for managing hot flashes:
- Dress in layers.
- Keep the home and bedroom cool.
- Know that most symptoms resolve over several months to several years.
- Understand the risks and benefits of hormonal and nonhormonal
- With all medicines or dietary supplements used as treatments, take the
lowest effective dose and stop as soon as symptoms improve or end.