A Natural Alternative to Soy

Every now and then, I’m asked about herbal or other plant-based remedies for hormonal symptoms. There’s another botanical treatment that appears to have some staying power in the U.S. marketplace.

Relizen is a plant-based treatment for hot flashes and night sweats that has a solid clinical track record. What’s more, it doesn’t have one of the major drawbacks of the soy products we discussed a while back—phytoestrogens.  These are the botanical imitators of estrogen that have received mixed reviews in scientific studies—some suggesting that they act too much like estrogen in the body and some suggesting that they actually work to protect against the effects of estrogen.

Relizen, on the other hand, has no estrogenic effects. It is made from the pollen of flowers that grow in southern Sweden. Very poetic, I know. It was developed by a Swedish doctor who also happens to be a biologist and a beekeeper and who apparently was a close observers of his bees’ collection habits.

I know what you’re thinking: Pollen=allergies! But our Swedish doctor invented a process that removes the allergenic husk from pollen and processes only the cytoplasm—its nutrient-rich inner core. And voilá!—a totally natural and non-estrogenic product that just happens to work very well to relieve vasomotor symptoms (VMS) in menopausal women.

Unlike a lot of botanicals, Relizen has been clinically tested with results published in peer-reviewed journals such as Climacteric, and Menopause. In these studies, Relizen significantly reduced hot flashes without raising hormone levels after the first month of use compared to a placebo.

Additionally, after three months of use (you have to be patient here), up to two-thirds of the 400 women surveyed reported improved quality of life, not only due to a reduction in frequency and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats, but also because of a reduction in irritability and fatigue.

Aside from these studies of efficacy, the big advantage for women who want to stay away from anything with estrogenic qualities or women who are taking tamoxifen is that Relizen is safe. According to statements by Dr. Steven Goldstein, professor of OG/GYN at New York University, at the 2014 North America Menopause Society meeting, “Tamoxifen creates some of the worst hot flashes we will ever see.” Yet, after reviewing the clinical results, Dr. Goldstein feels that Relizen is safe for tamoxifen patients.

“It is the only nonpharmacologic product that I have ever been aware of that has a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel study showing that it reduces vasomotor symptoms and improves quality of life in menopausal women,” he added.

In my own clinical experience, several patients have responded well to Relizen, and like Dr. Goldstein, I have no concern about estrogenic interactions.

Relizen is taken as two tablets daily, and it might take up to three months to take effect. It’s been on the market for 15 years in Europe with over one million users, and it is one of the best-selling menopause products in France. While it can only be ordered online, and it isn’t inexpensive, Relizen may be worth a try for women who’ve tried everything else or for those who want to avoid drugs and hormones.


Dr. Barb DePree MD
Dr. Barb DePree MD

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