August 8, 2009

Black cohosh, clover as good as placebo

A placebo works better than black cohosh and red clover in treating menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, U.S. researchers say.

But the commonly used botanicals won't hurt you, the researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University found.

Lead author Stacie Geller of the Chicago school and colleagues enrolled 89 women with moderate to severe hot flashes in a randomized, double-blind clinical trial.

The women, who experienced at least 35 hot flashes and night sweats per week, were tracked for 12 months. Some of them were given black cohosh and red clover and were compared with others receiving the standard of care -- hormone therapy -- or a placebo.

The study, published in Menopause, found the average number of hot flashes per week decreased 34 percent among those who took black cohosh, 57 percent for red clover, 63 percent for placebo and 94 percent for hormone therapy.

In the second study, 66 women were tested for memory. The researchers found that none of the botanicals had either a beneficial or a detrimental effect on memory, but the hormone therapy Prempro had a slight negative impact on memory.