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Women's Health

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Red Clover Supplement Eases Monthly Breast Pain

WebMD Health News

Nov. 26, 2001 -- Many women just put up with premenstrual breast pain each month. But a red clover herbal supplement might bring some relief.

A supplement containing red clover isoflavones reduced breast pain by 44%, reports David Ingram, MD, director of the Breast Centre at Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital in Perth, Australia. His study is published in a recent issue of The Breast Journal.

Premenstrual breast pain is related to hormone changes during the menstrual cycle and is very common among women -- at least those in Western countries. Until now, doctors have had difficulty treating this problem, but the red clover supplement looks like a "realistic option" for women suffering from it, Ingram says in a news release.

There has been growing scientific evidence over the past five years that isoflavones, which are natural compounds found in plants like red clover, mimic the activity of the body's own hormones. Women in Eastern countries have less trouble with premenstrual breast pain; they also have more isoflavones in their diet compared to Western women, largely from soy products.

The red clover isoflavones are believed to act as a weak estrogen, which reduces the amount of estrogen produced in breast cells, thereby reducing pain.

In his five-month study, 18 women were given 40 mg or 80 mg of red clover supplements or a placebo. Nine of the 12 women taking red clover had significant improvement in their pain: 44% taking the 40 mg treatment had relief, compared with 31% taking 80 mg and 13% taking placebo.

The supplement used in the study -- sold under the brand name Promensil -- has been used in clinical trials involving more than 1,000 women, Ingram says. It is a standardized formulation that contains four dietary isoflavones shown to play an important role in human health. The supplement has been analyzed and approved by, an independent examiner of quality in health and nutrition products.

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