Pomegranate seed oil doesn't offer significant short-term hot flash relief

February 2, 2012

Women who take pomegranate seed oil in the hope of reducing menopausal hot flashes and avoiding hormone therapy get no more relief than women taking placebo, a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical trial of the substance has found.

Women who take pomegranate seed oil in the hope of reducing menopausal hot flashes and avoiding hormone therapy get no more relief than women taking placebo, a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical trial of the substance has found.

Eighty-one postmenopausal women, 45 to 60 years of age, who reported having at least 5 hot flashes per day were randomized to receive 2 daily doses of either pomegranate seed oil (30 mg containing 127 μg of steroidal phytoestrogens) or placebo (sunflower oil) for 12 weeks. Pomegranate seed oil decreased the number of hot flashes per day by 4.3 (38.7%) compared with 2.5 (25.6%) for placebo, and it didn’t affect hormone levels during the 12-week period. No adverse effects were reported.

The study was published online January 11 in Menopause.

Based on questionnaires completed by study participants 12 weeks after the end of treatment, the authors report that the decrease in hot flashes “reached the level of significance [compared with placebo], which suggests that the effect of pomegranate oil is sustainable.” Pomegranate seed oil may take longer than placebo to reach significant levels, they observe.

Further, although hormone levels didn’t change over the 12 weeks of treatment, women who took pomegranate seed oil reported a significant decline (P<0.03) in “vegetative somatic problems,” especially sleep disorders, compared with placebo.

Commenting on the “remarkable” decrease in the daily frequency of hot flashes in both the pomegranate seed oil and placebo groups, the authors speculate that the 25.6% reduction in hot flashes in the placebo group may be related to “high expectations” of participants at the beginning of the study.

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