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Non-Hormone Treatment Found to Reduce Hot Flashes

The recent North American Menopause Society (NAMS) meeting revealed several new treatments that are going to give women a non-estrogen choice for treating hot flashes. I reported on low-dose paroxetine in another post.

This report is about a modification of a drug called gabapentin that is on the market to treat seizures and the pain that comes with herpes. Sometimes it’s also used to treat hot flashes. This low-dose form is intended for hot flash treatment and is called low-dose Gabapentin – ER , which stands for “Extended Release.”

Hot flashes affect about 75 percent of women in menopause. It’s one of the most troublesome side effects. Not only does it interrupt concentration and make comfort a challenge, it’s one of the most common reasons women in menopause don’t sleep well.

The best treatment for hot flashes is estrogen, also called estrogen therapy (ET), hormone therapy (HT) or in the past, hormone replacement therapy (HRT). But some women either can’t or won’t take estrogen due to potential side effects, risks or simply choosing not to. Women who have had breast cancer are a special group that are unable to take hormone therapy, and as a result, many struggle with hot flashes.

So there are literally millions of women looking for another treatment option for their hot flashes besides lifestyle changes and over the counter remedies.

This study was conducted by Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, a past president of NAMS and a Professor at the University of Virginia. She and her colleagues gave either Gabapentin-ER or a placebo to half of approximately 600 women (~300 in each group) who were having on average 11 hot flashes daily.

The medicine dosage was increased slowly over one week and they continued the treatment for a total of 6 months. Women receiving Gabapentin-ER had fewer hot flashes, found their hot flashes to be less bothersome, and slept better significantly more than the placebo group. The more women taking the medication also reported that they were either much improved or very much improved over those taking a placebo.

The short acting form of Gabapentin is currently available on the market today and although it is sometimes used for hot flashes, it is not approved for hot flashes. It must be given three times daily and about 20 percent of the women taking it will have dizziness and/or sleepiness the next day.

The women taking this extended release form took the medication twice daily and only 12 percent of women had dizziness or sleepiness. By the end of one week, only 3 percent of women had side effects, which was the same as placebo.

This drug is at the FDA and likely will be available for use by the end of 2013. It will then be available as an FDA approved drug for menopausal women with hot flashes who either cannot or won’t take estrogen.

Click here to get a free copy of my eBook How to Take Estrogen.

The video at the top is my interview with Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton of the University of Virginia and past president of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) who presented the study.

A New Non-Estrogen for Hot Flashes
Primer on Menopause Hormone Therapy
Natural Relief for Hot Flashes

Read more: Aging, Alternative Therapies, Anxiety, Blogs, Depression, Drugs, Family, Gynecology, Health, Healthy Aging, Insomnia, Menopause, Stay Well With Dr. Seibel, Videos, Videos, Women's Health, , , , , , ,

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Dr. Mache Seibel

Women's health expert and guest speaker Dr. Mache Seibel addresses consumers' critical needs from weight control to HRTmenopause and beyond. He served on the Harvard Medical School faculty for 19 years and is founder of My Menopause Magazine on the Apple Newsstand ( Download the Free App and first Free issue. He works with companies and organizations to bring exciting educational content to consumers. Visit his award-winning website to sign up for his free monthly newsletter.


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10:19PM PST on Jan 2, 2013

I'm surprised Care2 is even suggesting taking gabapentin for hot flashes! Gabapentin is certainly not a drug I would be pushing too much as it has such a high risk of causing depression and suicide, and the drug company for it has been taken to court several times for that very reason.

8:38PM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

Great, another pill ? No Thanks....I cannot take any estrogen replacement so am
sticking with my herb, Black Cohosh.

6:16AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Another drug? No thanks.

4:37PM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

The only thing that is proven to stop hot flashes are hormones. But the trade off is a higher chance of getting breast cancer. That just sucks.

2:42PM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

Not the answer for me. I'd rather go holistic.

1:02PM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

Take a pharmaceutical drug? No thanks. The medical establishment promotes the idea that menopause is some kind of disease. I have had my share of hot flashes but prefer natural remedies. Women must take note of what foods set them off. For some it may be sugar, for others caffeine. Avoid processed foods. If all else fails, embrace the inner bitch!

12:12PM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

Thanks Dr. Seibel for providing the interesting and informative video.

10:24AM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

I was on Gabapentin for nerve pain and it made me sweat even worse! I called the pharmacist and he told me that many people complain of that side effect. I see NO WAY that it can help with hot flashed!

7:20AM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

Water weight gain, hot flashes, I'm sick of them both. Honestly and truly, I would rather have my cycle back then deal with these menopausal issues. For my hot flashes, I just fan. That's the only thing that helps, is getting in front of a fan or air conditioner while others may drink cold water, lie on the cold floor, or put a wet cold rag to their face. It's miserable that's for sure and it's shameful too when someone sees you all of a sudden shining like the morning star.

5:04PM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

Well thanks, but I don't trust the FDA to make wise decisions. One six month "study" does not inspire confidence given that the FDA has approved drugs that end up killing people.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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