“My hot flashes are driving me crazy! They have me all sweaty during the day and wake me up at night” were the words of Sarah, a 49-year-old patient of mine. She wanted her hot flashes gone and without the use of any hormone replacement.
Sarah is not alone. A whopping 75% of North American women going through menopause experience hot flashes and about 25% seek relief from their healthcare providers.
My non-hormonal solution was an extract from Rheum rhaponticum, also known as false rhubarb or Siberian rhubarb. The use of an extract from this plant, known as ERr 731, has helped many of my menopausal patients achieve hot flash and night sweat relief with just one tablet daily. This treatment was relied upon by German doctors for the treatment of menopausal symptoms.
A study published in the mainstream journal Menopause found that ERr 731 significantly reduced the number and severity of hot flashes in just 4 weeks. After 12 weeks, researchers noted that the menopause-specific quality of life was significantly better in women taking the plant extract compared to placebo. Also, there were no adverse events found with the ERr 731 extract.
In addition to relieving hot flashes, ERr 731 was shown in a multicenter, prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to reduce the severity of anxiety in perimenopausal women and improve their general well-being. This is not surprising since the brain has estrogen receptors that influence brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
ERr 731 is unique in that certain constituents activate estrogen receptors (β receptors) but do not bind to uterine and breast tissues. Gynecological studies have not shown problems with endometrial thickening or bleeding. This makes ERr 731 an excellent choice for women who have a history of breast or uterine cancer or have a strong family history of these estrogen-dependent cancers.
ERr 731 is very safe. The evaluation of approximately 140 million daily doses of the extract taken by German women over about 11 years revealed only 124 adverse events reported. Also, a review of adverse events of 13 million tablets used in North America found only 79 complaints. An observational study involving 109 women over 48 weeks was found to be safe and effective in the long-term treatment of menopausal and perimenopausal women.
When I saw Sarah 8 weeks later, she was very happy with the results of her treatment and had noted her hot flashes were now occasional, and her sleep had normalized.
Chang, J. L., Montalto, M. B., Heger, P. W., Thiemann, E., Rettenberger, R., & Wacker, J. (2016). Rheum rhaponticum Extract (ERr 731): Postmarketing Data on Safety Surveillance and Consumer Complaints. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 15(3), 34–39.
Hasper I, Ventskovskiy BM, Rettenberger R, Heger PW, Riley DS, Kaszkin-Bettag M. Long-term efficacy and safety of the special extract ERr 731 of Rheum rhaponticum in perimenopausal women with menopausal symptoms. Menopause. 2009 Jan-Feb;16(1):117-31. doi: 10.1097/GME.0b013e3181806446.
Heger M, Ventskovskiy BM, Borzenko I, Kneis KC, Rettenberger R, Kaszkin-Bettag M, Heger PW. Efficacy and safety of a special extract of Rheum rhaponticum (ERr 731) in perimenopausal women with climacteric complaints: a 12-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Menopause. 2006 Sep-Oct;13(5):744-59. doi: 10.1097/01.gme.0000240632.08182.e4. Erratum in: Menopause. 2007 Mar-Apr;14(2):339.