The World Health Organization has estimated that 1.1 billion women worldwide will be transitioning into menopause by 2025. It’s also been estimated that up to 70% of women experience menopause symptoms, which can occur five to ten years prior menopause, during a period called peri-menopause. The link between menopause and the development of chronic disease has been the subject of much research and was at the center of a recent webinar hosted by Deanna Minich, PhD, FACN, CNS, vice president of scientific affairs at Metagenics.
Dr. Minich presented clinical research supporting the use of Estrovera™ dietary supplement (ERr 731) to help combat the symptoms of menopause. Although hot flushes and night sweats might seem like minor annoyances to some, these vasomotor symptoms, coupled with other symptoms such as exhaustion, mood imbalance, sleep problems, heart discomfort, urogenital problems and joint/muscle problems make women more susceptible to major health problems because the loss of estrogen can critically impact the brain, the heart, breasts, liver, uterus and bones.
“Women are more prone to chronic disease onset during the menopausal transition, like osteoporosis and bone fragility, cardiovascular disease, increased rates of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and inflammation in the body,” said Dr. Minich. “Anxiety and depression are also more apparent. If you talk to women during this time in their lives, they say that they just don’t feel like themselves anymore.”
The standard of care is typically hormone therapy but while its benefits include improved vasomotor symptoms, reduced risks of colorectal cancer, bone related challenges and coronary heart issues, there are risks related to breast tissue, endometrial and cardiovascular health; altered mood, and cognitive effects. And those risks have been enough for women to seek alternative solutions that include avoiding or minimizing caffeine and alcohol, getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night, breathing exercises, consuming low-glycemic foods, getting regular exercise, and staying hydrated.
Dr. Minich added that consuming the right nutrients can have a beneficial impact. Natural approaches—such as soy/clover isoflavones, hops, flax lignans or black cohosh—may offer a higher degree of safety for both peri- and postmenopausal use, but have shown a varying degree of clinical success and lack adequate scientific support that demonstrates a high degree of efficacy. “Phytonutrients play a huge role in helping the cell to communicate better and help with genomic stability,” she said, spotlighting probiotics, minerals (calcium and magnesium), vitamin D, fish oil and medical foods that include specific targeted nutrients.
One such nutrient, she said, was ERr 731, an extract of Siberian rhubarb – not the typical garden variety plant but one introduced from Asia to Europe, where it is now cultivated. Its beneficial constituents are rhaponticin, desoxyrhaponticin, rhapontigenin and desoxyrhapontigenin – all of which are natural hydroxystilbenes.
ERr 731 is an estrogen receptor (ER)-beta agonist and Dr. Minich explained that it does not contain estrogen or impact blood estrogen levels. “It weakly stimulates the receptor in the body between 18-31 times more than genestein (a soy isoflavone),” she said. “A study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology stated that ‘since the ER-beta is a negative regulator of ER-alpha, it may play an important role for preventing menopause associated symptoms such as depression, anxiety and hot flushes, and may offer protection to some degree from inflammation, hyperplasia and cancer.’”
She went on to talk about how in a 12 week study of 109 perimenopausal women, ERr 731 reduced the number of hot flashes from 12 per day to 1.5 per day on average in 12 weeks. It’s also been studied in relation to menopausal anxiety, prior to launch by Metagenics.
“Multiple in vitro and in vivo studies for toxicology and metabolism demonstrated a high degree of predicted safety,” Dr. Minich reported. “No clinical relevant changes in safety parameters including gynecological findings, vital parameters and laboratory safety parameters [were] associated with treatment after 108 weeks of clinical observation.”
Its taste and tolerance was also studied at Metagenics’ own Functional Medicine Research Center. A total of 18 participants tolerated ERr 731 well and all three subscales (psychological, somatic and urogenital symptoms) were “significantly improved” after four weeks of ERr 731 intervention (4mg per day).
“In total, the product is supported by five published human clinical studies that have tested a cumulative total of 400 women, all of which observed a reduction in menopausal symptoms within about 28 days compared to placebo,” commented Dr. Minich.
A 12-week trial coupled with Metagenics’ UltraMeal® Plus 360 medicinal food yielded even more comprehensive results related to cholesterol and homosysteine levels. The product also demonstrated increased benefits to bone matrix health, as well as improvements in markers of urogenital health.
“Women are looking for natural, safe therapeutics to manage their menopausal symptoms [and] targeted nutrients can have nutrigenomics-based effects in the body, resulting in a more balanced physiology,” concluded Dr. Minich. “ERr 731 has been shown to be effective for reducing a spectrum of menopausal systems, and at parity with low dose hormone therapy in quelling hot flushes. Adjunctive nutritional support can also include specific phytonutrients, fish oil, and vitamin D, to name a few.”
For more information about Estrova ERr 731, click this link.