Vasomotor symptoms, like hot flashes or night sweats, are the most common complaints in the menopausal transition.1 Besides them, middle-aged women approaching the end of their fertility are also plagued with other debilitating discomforts, like sleep problems or vaginal dryness, affecting both their physical and psychological well-being.
While herbs have been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine for treating feminine health conditions and other ailments, only some were scientifically studied for medicinal properties. Perhaps one of the most popularly studied Ayurvedic herbs is ashwagandha, which has been shown to increase energy levels, reduce cortisol, or relieve depression, among other properties.2
The objective of this trial was to examine the effects of Ayurvedic herbs for menopause symptom relief in middle-aged women.
This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was conducted by scientists from Australian and German research institutions. The results were published in the Journal of Herbal Medicine.
It consisted of 117 healthy women between the ages of 40 and 65 experiencing menopause symptoms. They were randomly assigned to two groups: the control group receiving placebo capsules and the intervention group receiving herbal capsules. The treatment lasted for 12 weeks.
The intervention capsules contained 75 mg of heart-leaved moonseed (Tinospora Cardifolia), 100 mg of shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), 100 mg of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), and 225 gugul (Commiphora mukul).
All participants filled out the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life (MENQOL) questionnaire, were asked to maintain a log of vasomotor symptoms, and had their hormone levels and health indices (body weight, blood pressure, hematological and biochemistry markers) measured before and after the study.
Researchers observed a significant difference in reported menopause symptoms, including vasomotor, psychosocial, sexual, and physical ones. Most notably, hot flashes and night sweats were significantly reduced in the intervention group in comparison to the control group.
Herbal capsules with Ayurvedic herbs were not observed to change hormone levels nor other health indices.
What Does this Mean?
These findings are of high significance to menopausal women seeking safe and natural relief for their symptoms. By taking advantage of the natural properties of Ayurvedic herbs for hot flashes and other vasomotor discomforts, women can avoid the use of pharmaceutical treatments, such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which have been associated with serious side effects and health risks.
It would be beneficial to see more studies on the effects of each of the aforementioned Ayurvedic herbs to fully understand their medicinal potential for hormonal disorders and other ailments.
- Journal of Herbal Medicine, A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial evaluating safety and efficacy of an Ayurvedic botanical formulation in reducing menopausal symptoms in otherwise healthy women, 2018
- Menopause. (2018). Vasomotor symptoms in women over 60. Retrieved November 27, 2019 from https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2018/10000/Vasomotor_symptoms_in_women_over_60__results_from.8.aspx
- Medline Plus. (2019). Ashwagandha. Retrieved November 27, 2019 from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/953.html