04/02/2013 10:35 am ET

This Menopause Treatment Could Reduce Hot Flashes, According To Study

If you often experience bothersome hot flashes, a Chinese herbal supplement may be the answer to your menopausal woes, according to a new study published in Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society.

The menopause treatment study, which was conducted by the University of Hong Kong, found that when given an herbal mix called Er-xian decocotian (EXD), women reported a 62 percent drop in the frequency of their daily hot flashes. Women who were given a placebo reported a 52 percent drop. Women who had EXD also reported a drop in the severity of their hot flashes, according to MedicalDaily.

The 12-week study tested 101 menopausal women in their 40s and 50s, with half the group drinking the EXD supplement twice daily. The EXD supplement was comprised of compounds from the roots, stems or leaves of six different Chinese herbs. The women who were given a placebo drank a mix of tea, caramel and a compound called gardenin, according to MedicalDaily.

Yao Tong, an author of the study, told Reuters Health that EXD “can increase a person’s hormonal and anti-oxidant functions.”

Katherine Newton, a menopause researcher at Group Health Research who was not involved in the study, called the study “valid” and “well conducted.” While the study had a strong placebo effect, she said she still thought the herbal supplement had a “modest effect on hot flashes.” She also said that in comparison to other studies about herbal supplements and menopause treatment, this one was on “the strong side.”

Newton explained to Huff/Post50 that, according to the study, women who drank EXD experienced one less hot flash a day.

“One hot flash a day difference is something that we consider a baseline for … what we consider clinically meaningful,” said Newton.

EXD can be purchased online, according to Reuters Health, but Newton emphasized that women should not purchase the supplement without first doing research and talking to their medical provider.

“Herbs are tricky because they’re quite challenging to standardize,” said Newton. “[While the study] did good work in standardizing what they were giving … there is a challenge in knowing that you [are] really getting what these women were getting.”

While hormone replacement therapy is currently considered the most effective way to reduce the symptoms of menopause, Tong told Reuters Health that its potential health risks have women looking for alternative menopause treatments. At the same time, Newton said she would like to see another group replicate the EXD study.

“The study of this size is not proficient to know that [these supplements] are completely safe … or if there are long-term side effects,” said Newton. “All we know is that in a 12-week study [the supplements had] a modest but positive effect.”



Menopause Treatment: 10 Natural Remedies