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Alternative Therapies May Not Ease Menopause Symptoms

A new review of 70 studies shows that alternative and complementary therapies may have little or no effect in easing symptoms associated with menopause.// The review article is published in the July 24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Twenty-five million women will go through menopause in the next decade, and many of them will experience hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, sleep problems and other associated symptoms. Approximately 40 percent of women seek medical help for these complaints, according to background information in the article. After the Women's Health Initiative, a large clinical trial of hormone therapy, was halted because of an increased risk of breast cancer, many physicians and patients began to seek other options for menopausal symptoms.

Anne Nedrow, M.D., Oregon Evidence-based Practice Center and Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, and colleagues reviewed 70 previous studies of alternative and complementary therapies for menopause-related symptoms. Forty-eight of the studies examined vitamins, proteins, complete diets or other biologically based treatments; nine focused on mind-body therapies, including meditation and guided imagery; one studied osteopathic manipulation, a body-based therapy; two looked at the energy-based treatments reflexology and magnet therapy; and 10 assessed whole medical systems, such as traditional Chinese medicine or ayurvedic medicine (a traditional therapy from India that includes yoga and dietary modifications).

Although some of the individual studies suggested benefits for certain therapies, the overall quality and quantity of data was not sufficient to recommend any of the treatments, the authors write. The 48 studies of biologically based treatments had mixed results. For example, of 15 fair- or good-quality studies of the soy-derived compounds known as phytoestrogens, only four suggested the supplements provided a be
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