Drug companies have made a fortune treating menopause symptoms (hot flashes, sweats, etc.) with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). But HRT has significant risks, as the mainstream media and I have reported. Now new research gives women who suffer from these symptoms two natural ways to get relief.

The first of these treatments is the supplement Pycnogenol. That's right! The very same Pycnogenol that lowers cholesterol and fights disease can also help with hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated 155 perimenopausal women. This is the considered the best kind of study in medicine. The researchers randomized the women to receive either 200 mg of Pycnogenol or a placebo every day. Then they evaluated their climacteric symptoms using the Women's Health Questionnaire. All climacteric symptoms improved in the Pycnogenol group. And it had no side effects.

The other treatment is simply soy isoflavones and aglycones. Researchers in a new study chose 147 menopausal subjects aged 38-60. They had 4-14 hot flashes per day. The researchers gave them either 40 mg per day of the soy supplement, 60 mg of the soy supplement, or a placebo. And they had the participants stay on the treatment for 12 weeks.

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After only eight weeks, both groups taking the soy saw their hot flashes decrease by 41-43%. The placebo group improved only 32%. After the full 12 weeks, hot flashes dropped by 51-52% in the soy groups. But the placebo group dropped by only 39%.

Overall, supplementation decreased hot flashes by 43% after eight weeks, and by 52% after 12 weeks compared to the placebo. There were no adverse effects on sex hormones or thyroid function. Fears of bad effects on your thyroid are one reason you hear warnings about soy. This study found no cause for alarm.

The authors concluded, "(Soy extract) supplementation may be an effective and acceptable alternative to hormone treatment for menopausal hot flashes."

It may surprise you that soy will help hormone-related problems. The weak estrogens in soy may help your estrogen deficient states (such as hot flashes). It can reduce risks of estrogen excess, which can lead to cancer. So, unlike others in my field, I'm urging you to take soy and its supplements if you have hormone-related problems.

So if you're suffering from hot flashes, stay away from hormone replacement therapy. Instead, try Pycnogenol, soy, and even vitamin E (another study on hot flashes finds that vitamin E, 400 IU daily, can reduce episodes). They don't have any side effects and they really work. You can find all of these in any health food store.

Ref: "A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the effect of Pycnogenol(R) on the climacteric syndrome in perimenopausal women," Yang HM, Liao MF, et al, Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand, 2007; 86(8): 978-85.

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