Red clover is being investigated to find out how effectively it can be used to treat the hot flushes experienced during menopause. If successful, it might turn out to be an ideal alternative to the current hormone replacement therapy instituted.
It has been a problem of concern as regarding what to recommend for patients who are not willing for hormone therapy. This study has been initiated taking into account the fact that these women switch over to some sort of herbal remedy. The study will also look into any benefits the herbal may have on PMS, or the pain and other side effects of menstruation.
Red clover is widely used by women during menopause as it contains chemicals called isoflavones, which mimic the effects of the female sex hormone oestrogen. A lot of them have switched over from HRT due to the associated risk of stroke and breast cancer. Red clover is also used as a remedy for respiratory problems, particularly whooping cough, and for chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
The study is thought to be the first to investigate red clover's effect on PMS and will comprise of 70 subjects aged between 40-55 in addition to those in the 'peri-menopausal' stage who may still be experiencing PMS.
After a run-in period of two months to identify patients with problems, the women will be randomized to receive either 40mg a day of red clover extract or a placebo for six months. At this point they will be given an option to carry on treatment for a further six months.
The researchers will look particularly at the effect on hot flushes, a symptom that affects around three quarters of all women during menopause. However it is anticipated that HRT will remain to be more powerful effect on menopause symptoms as it is much stronger than the herbal doses commonly used.