MenoSense, an herbal product developed by WomenSense and distributed by Preferred Nutrition, which are Canadian companies, is available in the United States. The herbal supplement, designed to reduce unwanted menopausal symptoms, contains herbs traditionally used to treat female reproductive conditions. Clinical tests confirming MenoSense’s safety, however, are lacking. The supplement contains three herbs: dong quai, chasteberry and black cohosh, each of which may produce side effects in some women. Consult your doctor before using any herbal remedies to treat symptoms of menopause.
Dong Quai Side Effects
Sometimes called female ginseng, due to its rumored effects on a woman’s reproductive hormones, dong quai is potentially beneficial for reducing menopausal symptoms, according to the “Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine.” Side effects are rare but include rash and increased skin sensitivity to sunshine. Because dong quai may have estrogenic properties, women with a history of estrogen-sensitive cancer or tumors should not take MenoSense.
Chasteberry Side Effects
Vitex agnus-castus, the botanical name for chasteberry, is popular for treating symptoms of PMS and menopause. “PDR for Herbal Medicines” says chasteberry may repress the release of prolactin in a woman’s body, which may reduce menopausal symptoms. Like the other herbs in MenoSense, however, there are no clinical tests confirming chasteberry’s safety. Side effects, according to the “Gale Encyclopedia” are rare, but include headache, rash, upset stomach and increased bleeding during menstruation.
Black Cohosh Side Effects
Black cohosh, or Cimicifuga racemosa, is widely used for treating female reproductive conditions, and according to the “PDR for Herbal Medicines,” the herb is generally safe, but when taken in high doses, it may cause vomiting, reduced blood pressure, dizziness, pain in the extremities and headache.
The United States Food and Drug Administration does not evaluate most herbal supplements, including MenoSense, so there is no guarantee of its safety or effectiveness. In addition, due to the lack of scientific studies on each of the herbs, there may be other side effects yet unknown. The Canadian distributor, however, claims that all herbs undergo testing for “purity, safety and potency.” MenoSense is available in health food stores.
- Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine: Jacqueline L. Longe
- PDR for Herbal Medicines, Second Edition: Joerg Gruenwald, Ph.D.