What about so-called “natural” treatments for menopause?

Some women decide to take herbal or other plant-based products to help relieve hot flashes. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Soy. Soy contains phytoestrogens (chemicals from plants that are like estrogen). But, there is no proof that soy–or other sources of phytoestrogens–really do make hot flashes better. And the risks of taking soy–mainly soy pills and powders–are not known. The best sources of soy are foods such as tofu, tempeh, soymilk, and soy nuts. These soy products are more likely to work on mild hot flashes.
  • Other sources of phytoestrogens. These include herbs such as black cohosh, wild yam, dong quai, and valerian root. Again, there is no proof that these herbs (or pills or creams containing these herbs) help with hot flashes.

Products that come from plants may sound like they are safe, but there is no proof they really are. There also is no proof that they are better at helping symptoms of menopause. Make sure to discuss these types of products with your doctor before taking them. You also should tell your doctor about other medicines you are taking, since some plant products can be harmful when combined with other drugs.