Fall 2004 Table of Contents.
Jump to page 1 Jump to page 2 Jump to page 3 Jump to page 4 Jump to page 5
 The Herbal Alternative, by Anita Harrison.


Jennifer Doty was working quietly in her climate-controlled office in MU's Department of Surgery when she suddenly felt a familiar sense of warmth radiating from inside her body, a sensation that intensified and spread until she broke out in a sweat. She turned a fan toward her, pumping up the power. It didn't help. For five, 10, 15 minutes, Doty found herself squirming and perspiring, waiting for her body to return to normal.

"It doesn't matter what you do," she says. "You're having a hot flash, and you have to let it pass." Doty, 44, began enduring symptoms of menopause seven years ago following a hysterectomy. After surgery, she averaged two hot flashes at work each day, another one in the evening and at least a couple more in the night. "It was miserable," she says.

Doty thus joined the millions of postmenopausal women on hormone therapy. Doctors prescribed several hormone combinations before finding one that seemed to help, so many that Doty says she had trouble keeping track of them all. She does recall that it was Ogen, an estropipate tablet manufactured by Pfizer, that helped most, but even with Ogen she had to endure occasional hot flashes and night sweats. She also put up with weight gain, a bothersome side effect of her treatment.

Unsatisfied, Doty decided to take part in a clinical trial conducted by Edward Sauter, associate professor and vice chair of research in MU's Department of Surgery. The trial is part of a study he designed to test an herbal alternative to hormone therapy: black cohosh. "It was wonderful," Doty says, weeks after completing the trial. "It gave you some hope, and it definitely did the job I wanted it to do."

According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, many thousands of postmenopausal women have, like Doty, abandoned hormone therapy in recent years. "Women's interest in alternative treatment is skyrocketing," says Marcie K. Richardson, a trustee of the North American Menopause Society and co-director of the Harvard Vanguard Menopause Consultation Service, a multidisciplinary clinical practice providing consultative care to menopausal patients. "There have always been women who were concerned about hormones and interested in alternative treatments, but now women are more interested than ever."

Continue to next page
Jump to table of contents. Jump to top of page.
Jump to page 1 Jump to page 2 Jump to page 3 Jump to page 4 Jump to page 5
Published by the Office of Research. Copyright 2005, Curators of the University of Missouri. Click here to contact the editor.