Indexed on: 14 Dec '11Published on: 14 Dec '11Published in: Climacteric : the journal of the International Menopause Society
Non-hormonal treatment for menopausal vasomotor symptoms (VMS) is needed in women in whom there are medical or personal concerns on the use of hormone therapy. This paper reviews conventional and phytochemical therapies available for the relief of VMS, on their mechanisms of action, their efficacy and safety concerns.Medline was searched through Pubmed on the names of the diverse therapies analyzed, up to June 2011. The Cochrane Controlled Clinical Trials Register Database was searched for relevant trials that provided data on treatment of menopausal hot flushes.All non-estrogen treatments for VMS are less efficacious than estrogen treatment. Randomized trials with neuroendocrine agents show globally modest to moderate reduction of VMS and frequent bothersome adverse events. The variability of effects makes it possible to undergo treatment in search for individual response where estrogen treatment is contraindicated. The antidepressants that interact with cytochrome P450, inhibiting tamoxifen metabolism to endoxifen, interfere with tamoxifen therapy in breast cancer patients. Otherwise, botanical products containing isoflavones from soy bean or red clover have great variability in bioavailability, have a broader spectrum of action than estradiol, and have predominant estrogen receptor-b activity. The efficacy of phytoestrogens on VMS is similar to placebo. They should be avoided in women with breast cancer and, in particular, in women being treated with tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors due to possible antagonism. Cimicifuga racemosa is not a phytoestrogen, has partial serotonin agonist action and has a modest effect on VMS.There are safe non-hormonal conventional treatments for menopausal VMS, although they are less efficacious than estrogens. The indication of phytochemicals is for women who make this choice on personal beliefs; long-term studies of larger groups of patients are needed to assess safety.