Menopause is a time when fluctuating hormone levels cause some women to experience mood changes - with sometimes disabling periods of anxiety or depression. In some cases, post menopausal depression and anxiety is severe enough to require prescription medications – which are best avoided due to their potential side effects. Are there natural alternatives for treating post menopausal depression that doesn’t require a prescription? A new study suggests that taking red clover supplements could help to relieve anxiety and depression after menopause.
Taking Red Clover for Depression after Menopause: Does It Work?
Researchers gave a group of 109 post menopausal women age forty and over a red clover supplement or a placebo for three months. To see how well taking it worked, they used two different depression and anxiety scales to measure their symptoms. The results? The red clover supplements beat out the placebo by a good margin. The women on red clover supplements experienced an eighty percent reduction in their symptoms of depression and a seventy-six percent decrease in anxiety symptoms – all without taking prescription medications.
What is Red Clover?
Red clover, the state flower of Vermont and commonly seen along roadsides in the state, has been used to treat menopausal symptoms for years. It’s a good source of isoflavones and phytoestrogens – compounds which have estrogen-like activity in the body. It’s often used to treat menopausal hot flashes, but studies have been mixed regarding its effectiveness – with the most recent research showing little benefit. It also slows down bone less in post menopausal women according to some studies.
Is Taking Red Clover Supplements Safe?
One concern about taking red clover is its effect on breast tissue. Because the isoflavones in red clover have estrogen-like activity, they can theoretically stimulate breast cells and increase the risk of breast cancer. Although it’s not clear whether red clover alters breast cancer risk, most studies show it doesn’t increase breast density which is a positive in terms of breast cancer risk. Some experts even believe that red clover could reduce the risk of breast cancer because it binds to breast cancer receptors and blocks the more potent effects of estrogen. There’s also the question of whether taking red clover supplements stimulates the uterus to grow due to its hormone-like effects.
Taking Red Clover Supplements for Post Menopausal Anxiety and Depression: The Bottom Line?
Taking red clover for anxiety and depression after menopause may hold promise, but there’s still concern about its effects on estrogen sensitive tissue such as the breasts and uterus. For this reason, any woman who has a history of a hormone-sensitive cancer should avoid using it until more studies come out.