Menopause is an important transition period in a woman’s life, mostly with the last menstrual period as the cut-off point, and 1 to 2 years before and after, this period is called the menopausal transition, for most women, about 45 to 55 years old.
During this period, due to the violent fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone, it is often accompanied by the following physical and mental symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood swings, loss of libido, insomnia, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, depression, palpitations and joint pain, which seriously affect life, social and gender relations.
Thanks to advances in health care, life expectancy has increased dramatically, which means that there are more than 30 to 40 years left to live after menopause, so women should be more aware of changes in their bodies and have more control over their bodies.
In empirical medicine, what health ingredients are helpful for women’s menopause? See text analysis for details
What are the health foods that are beneficial for women’s menopause?
Isoflavones are a class of phytoestrogens (others are lignin and coumadrol), have estrogen-like effects, are widely found in legumes, and are most abundant in soybeans, other sources include lentils, kidney beans, green beans, broad beans and chickpeas.
Dietary observations have found that Asian women who consume more legumes face significantly less discomfort during menopause than the American diet.
A model-based meta-analysis (16 studies, 1710 participants) noted that soy isoflavones were slightly and slower in reducing hot flashes than the drug estradiol (E2) (4 times longer than estradiol). Note 1
Another meta-analysis (10 randomized placebo-controlled studies of 1024 postmenopausal women) showed that taking soy isoflavones had positive effects on cognitive function and visual memory, especially for those who started using them longer and younger (under 60 years of age). Note 2
Another small, double-blind controlled study (4-month, 38 postmenopausal women) showed that isoflavones helped improve sleep efficiency (measured using Polysomnography) and reduce a variety of insomnia-related symptoms. Note 3
Conclusion: Soy isoflavones may be of positive help for menopause-related hot flashes, cognitive deterioration and sleep problems, but more studies are needed to support this due to small sample sizes and heterogeneity between studies
Red clover also known as safflower alfalfa is a perennial herb found throughout Europe and western Asia, characterized by pink-purple flowers that have traditionally been used as animal feed due to their rapid growth and high nutritional value
In recent years, it has been found that safflower alfalfa and soybeans have similar isoflavone substances, including genistein, daidzein, formononetin, and biochanin A, so it should often be used in women menopausal related symptoms.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (10 randomized controlled studies) suggested that safflower alfalfa helped reduce the frequency of hot flashes (especially in subjects with more than 5 episodes per day) and improve vaginal atrophy (but not significantly improve mental status, sexual problems, and sleep disturbances). Note 4
Another double-blind controlled study (12 weeks, 60 menopausal women) found that safflower alfalfa (enhanced absorption formula) has a positive effect on bone health (lumbar spine and femoral neck are more obvious, measured by bone mineral density/BMD, T-score and bone resorption index/CTx levels), can inhibit osteoclasts and enhance osteoblastic activity. Note 5
*Conclusion: Safflower alfalfa may be a positive help for menopause-related hot flashes, vaginal atrophy and bone problems, but due to the heterogeneity and methodological flaws of the included studies, more studies are needed to further verify
Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil)
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are essential nutrients because the body cannot produce them on its own, from brain development in infancy to brain cardiovascular health in adults.
Omega-3s are mainly composed of docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and are found in fish oil, other seafood, nuts and leafy greens.
A meta-analysis (3 randomized controlled trials involving 483 women with menopausal vasomotor symptoms) noted that omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil) supplementation reduced night sweats, but was not significantly helpful in improving hot flushes, sleep quality, and quality of life. Note 6
*Conclusion: For the symptoms of night sweats associated with menopause, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation (fish oil) may have a positive help, but limited by the small sample size, more studies are needed for further verification
Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Ginseng is a popular medicinal plant with fleshy roots that belongs to the genus Panax of the family Araliaceae, whose name comes from the Greek words pan (all) and akos (cure) and is widely used to treat various ailments.
Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2000years, and its first use was recorded in the ancient Chinese Shennong Materia Medica, there are about 13 varieties in Asia, North America and Europe, and the common production areas are ginseng in Northeast China, the Korean Peninsula, Russia and North America, with Korean ginseng, Chinese ginseng and American ginseng being the most famous
A systematic review (10 double-blind randomized controlled trials) found that the use of ginseng (including Korean ginseng, Chinese ginseng, or American ginseng) was associated with improved sexual function and arousal (but no significant improvement in hot flashes frequency, hormone levels, or endometrial thickness) in menopausal women. Note 7
*Conclusion: For female menopausal symptoms, the use of ginseng products is only effective in improving sexual function, and the bias and heterogeneity of the included studies are limited, which need to be further verified by more rigorous experiments
Hypericum Perforatum, also known as St. John’s wort, is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia, historians believe that St. John’s wort was given the name to it by the first Christians, who noticed that the plant bloomed on June 6, the birthday of St. John the Baptist.
St. John’s wort is believed to have calming and astringent properties and has traditionally been used to treat neuralgia, bursitis, sciatica, menopausal symptoms, anxiety, depression, and for wound repair.
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (9 randomized controlled trials, 6142 female menopausal participants) suggests that both St. John’s wort extract alone and in combination with other herbs can help relieve menopausal discomfort (especially hot flashes). Note 8
*Conclusion: St. John’s wort may be helpful in alleviating menopause-related hot flashes, but more studies are needed to verify this due to the small sample size and the heterogeneity of the studies included
Black cohosh, belonging to the buttercup family, is an herb native to eastern North America that is currently a widely used dietary supplement as hormone replacement therapy to improve menopausal symptoms in women, as well as to relieve various gynaecological conditions, including premenstrual syndrome and irregular menstrual cycles.
It is generally accepted that black cohosh should have estrogenic effects, however in vivo and in vitro studies have shown that black cohosh neither stimulates nor inhibits estrogen signaling.
A Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (16 studies with 2027 perimenopausal or postmenopausal women) pointed out that to date, there is insufficient evidence that black cohosh can improve menopausal symptoms, such as vasomotor symptoms (such as hot flashes, night sweats), vulvovaginal symptoms, menopausal symptom scores, libido, bone health. Note 9
*Conclusions: Due to high heterogeneity between studies and small sample sizes, there is currently insufficient evidence to support the use of black cohosh for menopausal symptoms