Relieves vaginal dryness and improves vaginal atrophy in healthy postmenopausal women.
Researchers at a university in Thailand conducted a randomized, doubleblind, placebo-controlled study of healthy postmenopausal women aged 45 to 60 years to determine how PM affects vaginal health. The women received 20, 30 or 50 mg of Pueraria mirifica in capsules or placebo once daily for 24 weeks.
Fifty-one of 71 women randomly received one of the three doses of Pueraria mirifica, and the remaining 20 received placebo. After 12 weeks of treatment, most measures of vaginal health in the Pueraria group were significantly higher than in the placebo group. The exceptions were vaginal elasticity and pH. Vaginal dryness in the PM group decreased after 12 weeks of treatment.
The researchers concluded that Pueraria mirifica helped to alleviate vaginal dryness symptoms and painful intercourse, improve signs of vaginal atrophy, and restore the atrophic vaginal tissue in healthy postmenopausal women. There was no significant difference of adverse effects between the PM and placebo groups in this study.9
Alleviates hot flashes and night sweats.
The Phase II and Phase III studies sponsored by the government of Thailand found that PM helps alleviate hot flashes and night sweats. In the Phase II trial 20 out of 37 women took a daily dose of 50 mg of PM, and 17 out of 37 took 100 mg. The results were similar to those of the Phase III trial, which was explained earlier in this article. Night sweats, hot flashes, emotional ups and downs and urogenital symptoms were all alleviated among the women in the two groups that took the PM supplement.10
Pueraria mirifica helps support healthy cholesterol levels
Having high blood lipids is often a problem during menopause because of the loss of the protective benefits of estrogen. This puts women at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. However, researchers found that the phytoestrogens in PM can have a positive effect on blood lipid levels by activating estrogen receptor sites.
In one study 23 participants were given either two tablets containing 25 mg of PM or a placebo, in the morning and afternoon for two months. The women who took the PM supplement experienced a significant rise in HDL (34%) (“good” cholesterol) and a decrease in LDL (17%) (“bad” cholesterol). They showed a decrease in plasma follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) concentrations suggesting that the effects on lipid profile were caused by an increase in estrogens. After they stopped taking PM all blood lipid measures returned close to where they were at the beginning of the study.
The women in the placebo group exhibited no positive changes in blood lipid measures. Overall, the changes in lipid profiles were equivalent to those reported in studies of statin therapy (Lipator, Lescol, Zocor, Crestor, etc.), which has a long list of potential side effects. Such significant results suggest a potential place for this herb in treating menopausal and postmenopausal women with lipid profiles that may predispose them to cardiovascular disease.11
May help reduce bone loss in menopausal women
Osteoporosis is a health risk that is directly linked to menopause. Up to 20% of expected lifetime bone loss occurs within the first five to seven years after menopause. The reason is that low levels of estrogen cause the cells that build new bone (osteoblasts) to be less active than the cells that remove old bone (osteoclasts).
In other words, the old bones are torn down faster than the new bones are built.Pueraria mirifica, at a dose of 20, 30 and 50 mg per day, was given to 51 women aged 45 to 60. The other 20 women in the study were given a placebo.
The PM group showed a significant decrease in bone-specific alkaline phosphatase levels after 24 weeks of treatment compared with the placebo group. The researchers concluded that the herb produced an estrogen-like effect on bone turnover rate, which would help protect bone density and protect against osteoporosis.12
Urinary incontinence is not a symptom of getting older. Yet, millions of women experience a leaky bladder as a result of menopause, a traumatic birth, hysterectomy or just plain old weakened pelvic floor muscles. A recent study of female laboratory rats that had their ovaries removed suggests that PM can help support a healthy bladder.
Four groups of animals were given estradiol, 100 or 1,000 mg of PM per kilogram of body weight, or a placebo. After 28 days of treatment the groups that took the estradiol and PM had significantly higher numbers of vaginal and urethral superficial cells compared with the control group. And although the animals’ bladder capacity and amount of urine that leaked after voiding did not change, according to a urodynamic study the leak point pressure increased showing that Pueraria mirifica at 100 and 1,000 mg/kg/day showed an estrogen-like effect on the vaginal and urethral tissue of ovariectomized rats. PM can potentially help strengthen the bladder wall, and help prevent urinary incontinence.13
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Ramnarine S, MackCallum J, Ritchie M. Phyto-oestrogens: do they have a role in breast cancer therapy? Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (2009), 68 (OCE), E93. Scottish Section of The Nutrition Society, 7-8 April 2009.
Chandeying V, Sangthawan M. Efficacy comparison of Pueraria mirifica (PM) against conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) with/without medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) in the treatment of climacteric symptoms in menopausal women: phase III study.J Med Assoc Thai. 2007;Sep;90(9):1720-6.
Rice S, Whitehead SA. Phytoestrogens inhibit mRNA expression and activity of aromatase in human granulose-luteal (GL) cells. Endocrine Abstracts (2004) 8 P82.
Passwater, R. “Pueraria mirifica: Just for Menopause or the Herb of the Decade?” Part I,Whole Foods Magazine, February, 2007.
Natural Products Insider, Bio-Botanica’s Puresterol Wins US Patent. Feb. 18, 2010.
Lamlertkittikul S, Chandeying V.Efficacy and safety of Pueraria mirifica (Kwao Kruea Khao) for the treatment of vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women: Phase II Study.J Med Assoc Thai.2004 Jan;87(1):33-40.
1. Okamura S, Sawada Y, Satoh T, Sakamoto H, Saito Y, Sumino H, Takizawa T, Kogure T, Chaichantipyuth C, Higuchi Y, Ishikawa T, Sakamaki T.Pueraria mirifica phytoestrogens improve dyslipidemia in postmenopausal women probably by activating estrogen receptor subtypes.Tohoku J Exp Med.2008 Dec;216(4):341-51.
Manonai J, Chittacharoen A, Udomsubpayakul U, Theppisai H, Theppisai U.Effects and safety of Pueraria mirifica on lipid profiles and biochemical markers of bone turnover rates in healthy postmenopausal women.Menopause.2008 May-Jun;15(3):530-5
Chandeying, V., Kuramoshi, T. and Schauss, A., Personal Communication 2001.
Passwater, R. “Pueraria mirifica: Just for Menopause or the Herb of the Decade?” Part 2,Whole Foods Magazine, March 2007.