Herbs for Menopausal Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: October 16, 2003

I was told to try flax oil for hot flashes and cold chills. I have had breast cancer and a hysterectomy. There is not much out there to take and to make sure there is no estrogen in the medicine. I am also taking black cohosh. I started taking the cohosh about three weeks ago. I am also taking tamoxifen for the breast cancer. What do you suggest?

Black cohosh has been studied and found safe for menopausal breast cancer patients. Other than black cohosh, it is best to avoid estrogenic herbs until more studies have been done on their effect in breast cancer. Simon Mills and Kerry Bone in "Principals and Practice of Phytotherapy" (publisher Churchill Livingstone) state that intake of plant estrogens with tamoxifen may reduce the therapeutic effects of the drug in breast cancer and that plant estrogens can stimulate the growth of estrogen dependent tumours in some circumstances. Flaxseed is very high in plant estrogens. Other estrogenic plants include evening primrose, fennel, hops, licorice, dong quai and soy beans.

There are plenty of non-estrogenic herbs to help with hot flashes. For example, milk thistle and dandelion root support the liver in hormone metabolism, helping to balance hormones. These herbs also help to clear "heat" from the body; chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) helps to balance hormones at the pituitary gland in the brain. Motherwort (Leonuris cardiaca) is often effective with black cohosh in hot flashes. The choices depend on your individual health picture. To find the most effective combination, I suggest that you consult with a well trained herbalist or a naturopath. You will find more information on our website at http://www.richters.com, and choose "Q&A" from the main menu. Enter "hot flash" for one search, and "menopaus" for a second search.

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