Fennel supplements have a mild estrogenic effect which can aid the relief of menopausal symptoms. [Photo: Bigstock]

Fennel’s a ‘safe and effective’ remedy in menopause

22 May, 2017

Natural Health News — Fennel, an anise-flavoured vegetable, is popular in cooking and has long been known for its health benefits for a variety of issues, including digestion and premenstrual symptoms.

A new study confirms that it is also effective in the management of postmenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, sleeplessness, vaginal dryness, and anxiety, without serious side effects.

Some of the most common adverse effects of menopause include  hot flashes, vaginal dryness, sleep problems, joint and muscular discomfort, exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, and depression. The use of complementary and alternative medicine for the management of these symptoms has surged in recent years as women have attempted to identify alternatives to hormone therapy (HT).

Plant-based remedies such as red clover or soya contain phytoestrogens – substances similar to the estrogen produced by the human body, but derived from plants.

Fennel, an herb containing essential oils, has phytoestrogenic properties. Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like chemicals in plants that have been used to effectively treat a wide array of menopause symptoms.

What you need to know

» Women suffering from menopausal symptoms are increasingly turning to complementary treatments and supplements.

» In this Iranian pilot study, 100 mg of fennel twice daily, helped relieve symptoms such as hot flashes, sleeplessness, vaginal dryness, and anxiety, without serious side effects.

» The researchers say this is the first clinical study of fennel, which has a mild estrogenic effect, for the relief of menopausal symptoms.

A safe, effective treatment

In this small trial of 90 Iranian women aged 45 to 60 years, soft capsules containing 100 mg of fennel were administered 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 the end, fennel proved to be a safe and effective treatment to reduce menopause symptoms without serious side effects. The study published in the journal Menopause   is one of the first clinical studies to examine the benefits of fennel for managing menopause symptoms, even though it had been previously studied and confirmed to manage premenopause symptoms.

A mild estrogenic effect

Sweet, aromatic Fennel looks like a larger version of its relative, dill, but has a distinct aniseed flavour. It’s a popular part of the Mediterranean diet and has been valued as a healer since Roman times, particularly when it comes to soothing digestive troubles. Fennel supplements are derived from fennel seed, often as an oil, which has a mild phytoestrogenic effect.

“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,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of NAMS. “A larger, longer, randomised study is still needed to help determine its long-term benefits and side effect profile.”