The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Supplements and relief of menopausal symptoms

This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables are a useful way to look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, to get the most out of the tables, it’s important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.

Introduction: Dietary and herbal supplements have been suggested as ways to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

However, findings from most randomized controlled trials and a meta-analysis have not shown a benefit.

Learn more about flaxseed, omega-3 fatty acids and other dietary supplements in the Complementary and Integrative Therapies section.

Learn more about ways to treat menopausal symptoms.

Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of studies.

Study selection criteria: Randomized controlled trials with at least 60 participants and meta-analyses.

Table note: Relative risk above 1 indicates increased risk. Relative risk below 1 indicates decreased risk.    

Study

Study Population
(number of participants)

Type of Supplement

Treatment Duration

 Supplements Reduced Hot Flashes More Than Placebo?

Randomized controlled trials

Reed et al. [1]

355
women never diagnosed with cancer

Omega-3 fatty acid capsule

12 weeks

No

Tice et al. [2]

246
women never diagnosed with cancer

Red clover extract

12 weeks

No

Pruthi et al. [3]

146
breast cancer survivors and women never diagnosed with cancer

Flaxseed bar

6 weeks

No

Lucas et al. [4]

120
women never diagnosed with cancer

 Omega-3 fatty acid capsule

8 weeks

Yes

Lipovac et al. [5]

109
women never diagnosed with cancer 

Red clover capsule 

13 weeks

Yes

Colli et al. [6]

75
women never diagnosed with cancer 

 Flaxseed capsule or ground flaxseeds

6 months

No

Lewis et al. [7]

66
women never diagnosed with cancer 

Flaxseed muffin

16 weeks

No

Lambert et al. [8]

62
women never diagnosed with cancer 

Red clover extract

12 weeks

No

Meta-analyses

Cochrane review [9]

5 studies

Red clover extract

Various

No

Franco et al. [10]

7 studies

Red clover extract

Various

No

 

References  

  1. Reed SD, Guthrie KA, Newton KM, et al. Menopausal quality of life: RCT of yoga, exercise, and omega-3 supplements. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 210(3):244, 2014. 
  2. Tice JA, Ettinger B, Ensrud K, Wallace R, Blackwell T, Cummings SR. Phytoestrogen supplements for the treatment of hot flashes: the Isoflavone Clover Extract (ICE) Study: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 290(2):207-14, 2003.
  3. Pruthi S, Qin R, Terstreip SA, et al. A phase III, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of flaxseed for the treatment of hot flashes: North Central Cancer Treatment Group N08C7. Menopause. 19(1):48-53, 2012.
  4. Lucas M, Asselin G, Mérette C, Poulin MJ, Dodin S. Effects of ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on hot flashes and quality of life among middle-aged women: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. Menopause. 16(2):357-66, 2009.
  5. Colli MC, Bracht A, Soares AA, et al. Evaluation of the efficacy of flaxseed meal and flaxseed extract in reducing menopausal symptoms. J Med Food. 15(9):840-5, 2012.
  6. Lipovac M, Chedraui P, Gruenhut C, et al. The effect of red clover isoflavone supplementation over vasomotor and menopausal symptoms in postmenopausal women. Gynecol Endocrinol. 28(3):203-7, 2012.
  7. Lewis JE, Nickell LA, Thompson LU, Szalai JP, Kiss A, Hilditch JR. A randomized controlled trial of the effect of dietary soy and flaxseed muffins on quality of life and hot flashes during menopause. Menopause. 13(4):631-42, 2006.
  8. Lambert MNT, Thorup AC, Hansen ESS, Jeppesen PB. Combined red clover isoflavones and probiotics potently reduce menopausal vasomotor symptoms. PLoS One. 12(6):e0176590, 2017.
  9. Lethaby AE, Brown J, Marjoribanks J, Kronenberg F, Roberts H, Eden J. Phytoestrogens for vasomotor menopausal symptoms. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. (4):CD001395, 2007.
  10. Franco OH, Chowdhury R, Troup J, et al. Use of plant-based therapies and menopausal symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 315(23):2554-63, 2016.  

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