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Valerian in menopausal women with hot flashes.

Jenabi E, Shobeiri F, Mohammad S, Hazavehei M, Roshanaei G. 2017. The effect of valerian on the severity and frequency of hot flashes: A triple-blind randomized clinical trial. Women & Health. Available online doi:10.1080/03630242.2017.1296058

Hot flashes are the most frequently reported symptom of menopause and are associated with declining oestrogen levels. Other factors associated with hot flashes of menopause may include lifestyle factors, tubal ligation, obesity, surgical menopause, and race/ethnicity. Valerian officinalis (valerian) is a widely used herbal supplement with phytoestrogenic qualities. A previous study conducted in Iran reported a reduction of hot flashes in menopausal women after treatment with a valerian intervention compared to placebo; however, the study was limited by a lack of standardisation. Accordingly, authors of the current study aimed to investigate the effect of valerian on the severity and frequency of hot flashes in a triple-blind, randomised, controlled clinical trial.

The study was conducted over a three month period with postmenopausal women from western Iran. Women were eligible for inclusion if they were aged 45-55 years, were at least one to five years post-menopause, not smoking or consuming alcohol, not having physical or mental disease, not using relaxation techniques, and not using hormonal or herbal therapies. Exclusion criteria included drug intolerance and incompletion of therapy. Patients were allocated to receive either valerian 530mg or placebo capsule to be taken twice daily for two months. The part of valerian used in the capsules was not described, nor were details of constituent analysis. The severity and frequency of hot flashed were determined before intervention, and at one month and two months after initiation of the intervention, and were classified based on the Kupperman Index.

Of 64 participants, follow-up data was available for 60 patients for analysis (valerian n=30, placebo n=30). Baseline characteristics were similar between groups, with no significant differences in frequency or severity of hot flashes before intervention. Compared to the placebo group, the severity of hot flashes in the valerian group was significantly lower at one month and two months after initiation of treatment. Additionally, compared to the placebo group, the mean frequency of hot flashes was significantly lower two months after initiating valerian, but no significant difference was reported at one month. No side effects were reported for subjects in the valerian group.

There are a number of limitations to the trial. The sample size was small and patient inclusion criteria was quite broad and non-specific, lacking clear definitions such as what menopause was defined as. The study does not well describe the valerian supplement beyond a dose and the company it was purchased from. Furthermore, despite classifying the severity of hot flashes, it was not a standardised questionnaire of classification system which may result in misclassification and/or lack of comparability to other studies.

Whilst the study produced results suggesting a potential beneficial role of valerian in the management of hot flashes associated with menopause, further research of higher quality is required.

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Title Annotation:Reviews of articles on medicinal herbs
Author:Tester, Jodie
Publication:Australian Journal of Herbal Medicine
Article Type:Report
Date:Jun 1, 2017
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