New research – published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) – suggests that the phytoestrogens found in fennel help manage postmenopausal symptoms and pose no adverse effects.
Fennel – or Foeniculum vulgare Mill – is a herb known for its culinary and medicinal uses. Fennel is commonly used as a spice, and fennel tea is known to relieve indigestion or premenstrual cramps.
Although a normal phase of a woman’s life, menopause can have a wide range of inconvenient symptoms. New research suggests fennel may help to relieve these symptoms, with little to no side effects.
The symptoms of menopause range from changes in mood, period, or sex drive to sleep trouble, anxiety, depression, and the well-known hot flashes. This stage in a woman’s life can also increase the risk of health issues, such as osteoporosis or heart disease.
Physicians often recommend hormonal therapy (HT) for managing menopausal symptoms, as well as preserving bone density. However, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) caution against the health risks that HT often poses, including that of a heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer.
Additionally, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that women take the smallest dose of HT for the shortest period of time possible.
Because of the adverse health effects associated with HT, many women turn to complementary, plant-based medicine for symptom relief during menopause. Plants such as red clover or soy contain phytoestrogens – substances similar to the estrogen produced by the human body, but derived from plants.
However, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) report that the efficacy of phytoestrogens in relieving menopause symptoms has been inconsistent.