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If You Are Considering CAM for Menopausal Symptoms

Although there is very little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of CAM¹ therapies for menopausal symptoms, it is possible that some CAM therapies may provide some relief to women during the menopausal transition. Here are two important points to keep in mind if you are considering these therapies:

  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
  • "Natural" does not automatically mean "safe." As noted earlier, botanical and other dietary supplements can interact with each other and with prescription and over-the-counter drugs, affecting how the body reacts. Supplements can pose other safety issues as well. Some have been found to be contaminated, contain unlabeled ingredients, or have different amounts of ingredients than are listed on the label.
Women who are looking for alternatives to MHT should be aware that CAM therapies are not their only option. Certain lifestyle changes can contribute to healthy aging, including during the menopausal transition. For example, quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly have been shown to reduce the risks of heart disease and osteoporosis.

NCCAM Research on CAM for Menopausal Symptoms

NCCAM supports a number of studies on CAM treatments (such as botanicals and mind-body practices) for menopausal symptoms, as do some of the other institutes and centers at NIH. Recent examples of NCCAM-funded projects include:

  • An initiative to improve measures of hot flashes, which is expected to add to the understanding of hot flashes and to aid future clinical studies
  • A study of whether black cohosh can help with the anxiety that may be experienced as a symptom of menopause
  • A study to identify botanicals from Central America that have been used by the native population for menopausal symptoms and to develop and test standardized extracts from these plants
  • Several studies looking at the effect of acupuncture on the recurrence and severity of hot flashes in postmenopausal women and others who may suffer from hot flashes, such as men being treated for prostate cancer
  • A study to determine the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (a type of meditation) on hot flashes in menopausal women
  • A study to understand how soy supplements might affect hot flashes and night sweats.

In addition, NCCAM and other NIH components are cofunding an initiative to establish a network of research centers looking at potential new treatments for menopausal symptoms.

¹ - Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)

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