What is Red Clover?
Red clover, a herbal medicine is a natural treatment for lowering menopause symptoms, like soothing hot flush symptoms and hormonal fluctuations. When red clover is taken in a fermented form, it decreases both the number and severity of daily hot flushes, reveals a new research.
‘Red clover reduces menopause symptoms, but fermented-red clover extract prevents hot flushes, hormonal mood swings and bone loss.’
One in three women over the age of 50 is at increased risk of menopausal bone loss. In this study, it was found that the accelerated menopausal bone loss can be prevented with the red clover extract (e.g. results showed treatment blunted bone loss in the spine completely).
The results are very promising as there are no side effects of traditionally proscribed hormone therapies that increase the risk of cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
The study led by Professor Per Bendix Jeppesen previously presented partial unpublished data to the media, as these findings have rapidly been miss-reported to mean "Red Clover works", which as Per Bendix Jeppesen and his colleague Ph.D. Max Norman Tandrup Lambert explain that it is an oversimplification that is very close to being incorrect.
Fermentation Process Of The Red Clover
Max Norman Tandrup Lambert explained that it is the fermentation process of the Red Clover extract that makes the difference. The lactic acid fermentation increases the bioavailability of the bioactive estrogen-like compounds, such as isoflavones or phytoestrogens that Red Clover has in abundance.
"The challenge with isoflavones is that they can be difficult to digest as they naturally occur in the plant bound to sugar molecules which prevent absorption. Hence, a large proportion of the isoflavones that are consumed (e.g. as a pill or capsule) can pass through the intestine without entering circulation. This problem is bypassed when the Red Clover extract undergoes a fermentation process. To be technical the process separates the sugar molecules from the isoflavones, thereby increasing bioavailability," explains Max Norman Tandup Lambert.
The research findings inadvertently provide an invaluable seal of approval to an ecological farmer and business owner Michael Mohr Jensen. He has patented the production process of the fermented Red Clover extract, who sells the product from his private company "Herrens Mark" on Fyn.
Researchers Max and Per Bendix Jeppesen goal is to help women in their menopause, which also adds value in the commercial market.
"That characterization does not apply to me, because for me, when I can see that research has a realistic use practically I get extra curious. The fact that the research we have contributed has direct practical application is a great positive, it doesn't happen enough even with all the universities talking about becoming more business orientated and the necessity of collaboration with businesses," says Per Bendix Jeppesen.
Findings of the Research
Michael Mohr Jensen, was the person who contacted Per Bendix Jeppesen to ask if he and other researchers from the Dept. of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine could investigate his hypothesis, which was regarding fermented Red Clover extract as a healthier alternative to traditional estrogen therapy that has been forbidden by doctors.
Per Bendix Jeppesen and Max Norman Tandrup Lambert advised the farmer in fine-tuning his Red Clover extract, which helps in improving the gastro-intestinal uptake of the active isoflavone compounds.
The fermentation development of Red Clover extract was a success. The results are now being tested in Max Norman Tandrup Lambert's Ph.D. Project. In this study, about 130 women with menopause symptoms were recruited, of which 60 were selected based on the criteria of a minimum of at least five severe hot flushes per day and blood tests (including FSH, that indicates the "stage" of menopause).
The women were separated into two groups of 30, of which 30 drank 150ml Red Clover extract per day for 12 weeks, and the other 30 drank a masked placebo product. After 12 weeks both the groups were tested again and the results found were astounding, as there was much greater effect than the researchers have hoped for.
Researcher Per Bendix Jeppesen also emphasized that the research project avoided relying only on "self reports", as they could be a considerable source of error in investigations into whether a treatment works or not.
For example, the women's hot flush symptoms were measured using a 'skin conductor' in this study. Skin conductor is a device that is applied to the underside of the wrist, which helps in determining the number hot flush events and their severity based on the secretion of sweat. Similarly, the effect of the Red Clover extract on bone health was tested using DXA scans of the spine and hips.
Before and after 12 weeks of treatment, all the measurements were taken in the same way, which enhances the credibility of the research findings, as the symptoms for menopause are difficult to measure.
The information provided above is from the scientific article "Combined Red Clover isoflavones and probiotics potently reduce memopausal vasomotor symptoms", and the researchers at the Dept. of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine under the Dept. Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University/ Aarhus University Hospital published the study in the journal PLOS one.
- Max Norman Tandrup Lambert, et al. Combined Red Clover isoflavones and probiotics potently reduce menopausal vasomotor symptoms. PLOS one (2017).DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0176590