In the absence of any safe pharmaceutical treatment for menopause, the search for natural alternatives has taken on increasing importance for women. The best and most studied treatment for menopause is the herb black cohosh, and several other nutrients and herbs, like soy isolflavones, flax seeds and hops, have been proven to help. The newest addition to the menopause list is the herb fenugreek. . . .

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study gave either 500mg of fenugreek seed husk extract or a placebo twice a day to 88 menopausal women. All of the women were suffering with moderate to severe discomfort and were experiencing 3-5 hot flashes a day.

The women who took the fenugreek had significantly greater improvement on the Greene Climacteric Scale. The women who got the placebo experienced little improvement: from 34.25 at the beginning of the study to 30.49 at the end; the women who got the fenugreek experienced significantly greater improvement: from a similar 34.83 at the beginning of the study to a much better 19.64 at the end. Hot flashes decreased by 47.8% in the fenugreek group, and 32% of the women who took fenugreek had no hot flashes at all. There was also a significant improvement in night sweats (57.1%), insomnia (75%) and headaches (53.9%) compared to the placebo. Vaginal dryness also improved significantly more in the fenugreek group.

Fenugreek was not only superior to placebo for the physical symptoms of menopause, but for the psychological symptoms as well. Mood swings improved by a significant 68.2%. Depression, anxiety and loss of sexual desire all improved significantly more in the fenugreek group.

Compared to the placebo, there was also a significant improvement in quality of life in the fenugreek group. The women who took fenugreek experienced improvements in physical and mental fatigue, concentration and interest in daily work as well as overall health, mental health and well-being.

The fenugreek also reduced total cholesterol, the dangerous LDL cholesterol and triglycerides without lowering the heart healthy HDL cholesterol in women who had elevated cholesterol.

In the fenugreek group, estradiol increased by 120% versus less than 5% in the placebo group. The authors of the study say that the increase in estrogen and the improvement in menopause symptoms “point towards the establishment of a healthy hormonal balance.”

There was no toxicity and no adverse events in the fenugreek group.

Phytother Res 2016;doi:10.1002/ptr.5680

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For much more on menopause, see our book, The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

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