The Effect of Phytoestrogens on Hot Flashes
Phytoestrogens are heterophenolic compounds derived from plants that when decongugated in the gastrointestinal tract exhibit estrogenic effects (1). Consequently, food products and tablet form phytoestrogens are being increasingly promoted as natural alternatives to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in postmenopausal women who are either not eligible or chose not to follow the traditionally prescribed treatment. Such suggestions were coupled to reports that demonstrated that Asian diets rich in phytoestrogens contributed to a decrease in climacteric associated symptoms (8). Although there is some evidence that phytoestrogens are effective in reducing menopausal symptoms, such investigations are still in their infancy (16, 17). More interventional clinical trials are required to determine phytoestrogen efficacy and safety before definitive conclusions can be made. A review of the trials investigating the effect of isolated and dietary phytoestrogen on the frequency and severity of hot flashes is presented, with additional attention to given safety, individual effectiveness considerations, and a comparison of Asian and American diets.