Pilot Evaluation of Flaxseed for the Management of Hot Flashes

January 1, 2007 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Pilot Evaluation of Flaxseed for the Management of Hot Flashes

Year: 2007
Authors: Pruthi, S. Thompson, S.L. Novotny, P.J. Barton, D.L. Kottschade, L.A. Tan, A,D. Sloan, J.A. Loprinzi, C.L.
Publication Name: Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology
Publication Details: Volume 5; Number 3; Pages 106-112.


The objective of this study was to evaluate, in a phase 2 pilot study, tolerability and the effect of 6 weeks of flaxseed therapy on hot flash scores in women not wishing to receive estrogen therapy. Eligibility included 14 hot flashes per week for at least 1 month. In the baseline week, participants took no study medication and documented the characteristics of their hot flashes. Thereafter, crushed flaxseed was administered at 40 g daily. Participants provided weekly toxicity reports and health-related quality of life information. The primary end point was a change in hot flash score prospectively reported in a daily hot flash diary. Thirty women were enrolled between June 17 and November 8, 2005. The mean decrease in hot flash scores after flaxseed therapy was 57% (median decrease 62%). The mean reduction in daily hot flash frequency was 50% (median reduction 50%), from 7.3 hot flashes to 3.6. Fourteen of the 28 participants (50%) experienced mild or moderate abdominal distention. Eight participants (29%) experienced mild diarrhea, one experienced flatulence, and six (21%) withdrew because of toxicities. This study suggests that dietary therapy decreases hot flash activity in women not taking estrogen therapy. This reduction is greater than what would be expected with placebo. (Author's abstract)
It is estimated that well over half of the women who experience these menopausal symptoms seek medical treatment. Women are seeking non-estrogenic options for alleviating hot flashes. Flaxseed is a rich source of lignans and omega-3 fatty acids. Lignans are thought to have estrogen agonist and antagonist properties, such as those found in selective estrogen receptor modulators. Flaxseed has been reported to be as effective as an oral estrogen-progesterone preparation in improving mild menopausal symptoms and in lowering glucose and insulin levels. The current phase 2 pilot study was developed to evaluate flaxseed�s efficacy in management of hot flashes, as well as its tolerability and toxicity. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine whether a large placebo-controlled double-blind trial should be considered. This study provides preliminary data suggesting that 40 g of crushed flaxseed per day may be beneficial in managing bothersome hot flashes.  The weak estrogenic properties identified in flaxseed seem to account for the most likely mechanism of its effectiveness in reducing hot flash activity.  Lignans have also been shown to inhibit the aromatase enzyme in human pre-adipocytes, suggesting a mechanism by which lignan consumption may contribute to a reduction in estrogen-dependent breast cancer. This report supports the conclusion that flaxseed may decrease hot flashes. The pilot data provide support for pursuing a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study to verify the findings of this study. (Editor's comments)

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