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Pharmacy and Medications

Pueraria Mirifica

02/24/2011

Question:

I have been researching the use of Pueraria mirifica for hot flashes. It seems to have been around a long time and safe. What can you tell me about it?

Answer:

Pueraria mirifica is an extract that contains phytoestrogens, or a plant-based estrogen. There are not many clinical trials studying Pueraria mirifica in peer-reviewed journals. Those that do exist, suggest that Pueraria mirifica is effective in reducing symptoms of menopause. 

The safety, however, is more of a concern. Within the last ten years, the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for the treatment of post-menopausal symptoms has declined due to studies showing increases heart attacks and stroke and in certain types of cancer. T

The studies that lead to these findings was extremely large and over a long period of time. The studies looking at Pueraria mirifica for post-menopausal symptoms were relatively short (less than 6 months) and were not large enough to establish the long-term safety. The National Institutes of Health have an excellent website that provides detailed information about the risks associated with HRT.: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/women/ 

In addition, Pueraria mirifica is not an FDA-approved medication. Since it is considered a dietary supplement, there are no standards for manufacturers to follow. This can lead to varying amounts of active ingredient (including potentially no active ingredient) in products marketed as Pueraria mirifica. In the website below is a "Facts About Menopausal Hormone Therapy" document: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/women/pht_facts.pdf. There is an insert on page 5 outlining the details about dietary supplements that I encourage you to read.

Finally, I recommend speaking with your physician about your potential specific risks (smoking, family history, etc.) for heart disease, stroke, or cancer before starting any over-the-counter medication or dietary supplement. He or she may be able to provide you with more information. 

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Response by:

Michael  Ganio, PharmD Michael Ganio, PharmD
Clinical Applications Pharmacist
Wexner Medical Center
The Ohio State University