Review on November 10, 2009
Hot flashes are just one of a host of uncomfortable menopause symptoms which many women suffer from as they reach the end of their reproductive life. Often occurring at the most inconvenient and embarrassing times, hot flashes, are thought to be caused by wavering levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body, brought about by low levels of eggs in a woman's ovaries. There are a range of available treatments to combat hot flashes however there is yet to be one definitive treatment that is safe for women to use. Phytoestrogens, which is similar to human estrogen but found in plants, has been reported to be successful in the fight against hot flashes, however until now little research has been successful in finding out the way in which phytoestrogens actually work in the human body.
Current research however, has taken a more detailed look at phytoestrogen and more specifically Isoflavone Clover Extract (ICE) which had been used by some menopausal women in the past to relieve hot flashes. In a randomized controlled trail medical professionals from three separate medical centers in the USA studied a group of 252 menopausal women, all of which were suffering from at least 35 hot flashes a week. Vegetarians and women who ingested large amounts of soy a week were excluded from the trail as their diets may contain more phytoestrogen than the average women usually consumes. The subjects of this test were randomly assigned clover supplements which include phytoestrogen, Promensil (82 mg of total isoflavones per day), Rimostil (57 mg of total isoflavones per day), or an identical placebo and were followed by researchers over a 12 week period.
Each subject in the trail kept a daily diary so that researchers could record the effect the phytoestrogen was having on menopausal hot flashes. 246 women finished the trail and a small improvement in hot flashes suffered could be found in all three groups that took part. The first group, which took Promensil, had a mean of 5.1 reductions in hot flashes per day whilst the Rimostil group had 5.4 and the placebo group 5.0. The fact that very little difference in the improvement of hot flashes could be found in the three groups points to this type of phytoestrogen being ineffective, yet the phytoestrogen in both the Promensil and Rimostil had a small affect on improving hot flashes at a faster rate than the placebo. Researchers believe that the results for this type of phytoestrogen were not definitive enough to clinically establish this supplement as an effective treatment for hot flashes.
Although this research did not demonstrate a notable improvement in the amount of hot flashes the women in this trail were suffering from, it is important never the less. Phytoestrogens were thought to be a natural treatment for hot flashes and the fact that they are clinically effective means that future research can be steered towards other treatments. Researchers do note that other types of phytoestrogens may be more effective in the treatment of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. While hot flashes remain one of the most uncomfortable side effects of menopause, most women will have to try other ways of managing them.