Following the recent Medical Journal of Australia publication of a Monash University research paper reviewing ‘Use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) for menopausal women’, Flordis Pty Ltd, a leading marketer of clinically proven natural medicines to healthcare professionals, would like to address a number of misleading statements made regarding the use of CAMs to treat symptoms of menopause.
Flordis agrees that ‘health care providers need to be more involved in guiding women in the treatment of menopausal symptoms.’ However, they disagree with the paper’s sweeping conclusion that the use of CAMs for alleviating vasomotor symptoms ‘are known to be ineffective’ and that ‘black cohosh appear[s] to be no more effective than placebo’, in the face of published clinical evidence to the contrary.*
Grouping all natural medicines together, ignores the body of evidence which demonstrates a number of products have been clinically proven to be effective in treating menopausal symptoms.
The Monash University paper did not review or investigate the clinical efficacy of any individual natural medicine presented in its cross-sectional questionnaire, yet asserted that all natural medicine products lacked efficacy based on other meta-analysis reviews and quality of life questionnaire responses.
A limitation of meta-analysis of natural medicines is that this approach does not acknowledge or take into account the wide variability between these products. In this type of analysis, products unsupported by clinical evidence are given the same weight as products with decades of specific clinical evidence.
Commenting on the study, Flordis Founder and CEO of the SOHO Flordis International Group, Nigel Pollard said, “It is regrettable that a publication of a survey of users of CAMs for menopausal symptoms, which is not a scientific basis for assessment of their effectiveness, has been reported as support for the belief that CAMs are not effective. The authors devote only one paragraph of the publication to support their view that CAMs don’t work for menopausal symptoms, citing four papers, when thousands of other papers have been published to support their effectiveness”.
“Natural medicines vary enormously in their formulations. Just like wine, the finished product is highly variable. Similarly, even CAM products using the same botanical species can show great variation in product quality and efficacy. Flordis products employ a Seed to Patient quality control process to ensure every Flordis product is the specific medicine proven to be effective in clinical trials.
“The large degree of variation in commodity natural products, even between batches, means any study which treats all natural products as equal, such as the Monash publication or indeed a Cochrane review, is not appropriate for drawing any inferences on an individual product or treatment.
“It is disappointing that researchers at a major institution like Monash University should report a personal view on CAMs in this pseudo-scientific way, only focusing on information that supports their belief and not a balance of the evidence in the literature”.
Menopausal women and their healthcare professionals are actively looking for natural medicine alternatives for their health. As reported by the study, there is evidence that CAM use is supported by health practitioners with one third of all GPs reporting they recommend complementary medicines.
Flordis believes there is a place in medicine for natural products and recognises the need for all complementary medicine products to be supported by specific clinical evidence.
Flordis strongly recommends all patients discuss their menopausal symptoms with their doctor or healthcare practitioner before changing or commencing any medication or treatment.
Femular® by Flordis (which contains Ze450, a specific extract of Actaea racemosa), in particular, has been specifically clinically proven to provide therapeutic relief of vasomotor symptoms and has been helping Australian practitioners confidently treat patients’ menopausal symptoms for over a decade.
* Please refer to www.flordis.com.au/product/femular for full product information and clinical references.