A new study confirms that the Mediterranean herb fennel can help manage postmenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, sleeplessness, and vaginal dryness, without serious side effects.
With a flavor similar to licorice, fennel has long been used for its health benefits, particularly for the relief of indigestion and premenstrual symptoms. It contains essential oils and has phytoestrogenic properties.
Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like chemicals in plants that have been used to effectively treat a wide array of menopause symptoms.
“This small pilot study found that, on the basis of a menopause-rating scale, twice-daily consumption of fennel as a phytoestrogen improved menopause symptoms compared with an unusual minimal effect of placebo,” said Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society.
“A larger, longer, randomized study is still needed to help determine its long-term benefits and side effect profile.”
In recent years, the use of complementary and alternative medicine for the management of menopause symptoms has grown increasingly popular as women have been searching for alternatives to hormone therapy (HT).
Although HT is still an effective treatment for managing many symptoms of menopause, some women have turned to herbal medicine because they are either not candidates for HT or are concerned about the potential side effects.
The research, conducted in Tehran, Iran, involved a small trial of 79 women aged 45 to 60 years who were given 100 mg of fennel in a soft capsule twice daily for eight weeks. Improvements were compared between the intervention and placebo groups at four, eight, and 10 weeks, with a significant statistical difference documented.
In Iran, the average age of women at menopause is younger than in the United States: 48.2 years versus 51 years, respectively.
At the end of the eight-week treatment, fennel was concluded to be a safe and effective remedy to help reduce menopause symptoms without serious side effects.
The study is one of the first clinical studies to look at the benefits of fennel for managing menopause symptoms, even though it had been previously studied and confirmed to manage premenopause symptoms.
The findings are published online in the journal Menopause.