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Phytoestrogens, such as those found in soybeans and red clover, can improve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Night sweats should not be alleviated by this. This is the result of a mega-analysis published in JAMA by a research team from the Netherlands.
The meta-analysis included data from a total of 62 randomized clinical studies with 6,653 subjects who examined the effect of herbal therapies versus placebo or no therapy on the symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. 36 of these studies analyzed the effects of phytoestrogens (isoflavones from soybeans, red clover etc.), 16 the effects of black cohosh and another 10 the effects of medicinal herbs (including Chinese). The participants were between 52 and 53.5 years old on average.
The evaluation showed that the use of phytoestrogens led to a significant, if only slight, reduction in the number of daily hot flashes and the degree of vaginal dryness. The number of daily sweats decreased by a factor of 1.31, the vaginal dryness on the vaginal dryness score by 0.31 points. The night sweats were unchanged.
No positive effects were observed for the black cohosh. This puzzles the authors, since the effectiveness has already been proven. The scientists suspect that this result is due to the great heterogeneity of the individual studies. Overall, they sum up that further studies are necessary due to the general quality of improvement and the heterogeneity of the current findings. You can find the study here.