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Red Clover Isoflavones
Throughout history, herbal supplements and more recently, vitamins have been used to ease hot flashes and night sweats. The most commonly used plants are soy, red clover, and some herbs like black cohosh and Siberian ginseng.
The safest and most effective option for reducing hot flashes is Vitamin E, the only vitamin with proven clinical efficacy in reducing hot flashes, possibly because of its restorative action on estrogen levels. Clinical trials reported a significant reduction in the occurrence of hot flashes after four weeks of vitamin E supplements at a dose of 400 IUs per day. For Vitamin E dosage, take 400-800 IU/day of a mixed tocopherol complex (containing alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocopherols). If you have a condition such as heart disease or diabetes, do not take more than 400 IU/day.
There is increasing evidence that soy isoflavones can be an alternative to hormone replacement therapy for some women. One study of 60 post-menopausal women showed that those who received isoflavones supplements for sixteen weeks had a 50% reduction in hot flashes, while those on hormone replacement therapy had a 46% reduction in hot flashes. But there are different forms of isoflavones: genistein, daidzen, and glycitein. Isoflavones with higher amounts of genistein are more effective in reducing hot flashes. However, unfortunately these supplements are not effective against night sweats, insomnia, or depression. Isoflavones are generally well tolerated without any serious side effects; but, they function like estrogen in the body, so long-term use (greater than five years) may carry risks. The recommended dosage is 40-50 mg/day for 12-16 weeks.
If night sweats are disrupting your sleep, you can consider red clover. Red clover isoflavones are quite good at easing night sweats. However, you should discuss this with your doctor first if you are on birth control, hormone replacement therapy, or taking cancer medications, especially tamoxifen.
Other commonly used herbs include black cohosh and ginseng. Although the effects of black cohosh are not consistent, some studies show the combination of black cohosh with isoflavones or vitamin E resulted in reduced hot flashes. Black cohosh is not recommended for women with liver conditions. Likewise, Siberian ginseng is often used to help fatigue, headaches, insomnia and depression during menopause. However, in studies there is no strong evidence to support that it works better than a placebo. Do not take Siberian ginseng with blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin or aspirin.
Other products, including Saint-John's-wort, evening primrose oil, chaste tree, and wild yam haven't shown efficacy in clinical trials and are not recommended at this time.
You can also try cooling patches. We've also heard some women find Estroven, a supplement, beneficial at relieving hot flashes. You can check out their FAQs page to learn more about the product.
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