There is no convincing evidence that herbal remedies commonly taken to relieve troublesome menopausal symptoms actually work, say experts.
And some 'natural' treatments, like black cohosh, can cause serious harm, says the Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB).
But herbalists said a lack of proof did not mean the treatments lacked effect. Polls suggest 40% of UK women have used complementary and alternative therapies for their menopausal symptoms. Common remedies include red clover, Dong quai and evening primrose oil. Others include ginseng, wild yam extract, chaste tree, hops, sage leaf, and kava kava.
The DTB says little good quality evidence on the effectiveness of these herbal medicines, or how they might react with prescription medicines is available. There was some clinical trial data on black cohosh, but the results were "equivocal", with some studies suggesting that the remedy works well, while others suggested that it did not relieve symptoms effectively.
And, in general, the safety of herbal remedies has been under researched, which is a major concern given that these products are often assumed to be "safe" just on the grounds that they are "natural," says the DTB.
Black cohosh in particular has been linked with liver damage, although this is rare.
Source - BBC