Leading endocrinologist Dr Helena Teede has joined the research team of an RMIT University study that might shed light on the treatment of menopausal symptoms using herbal medicines.
Dr Teede, whose research has been recognised both locally and internationally, is medical education officer of leading women's health organisation The Jean Hailes Centre, a member of the Council for the Australasian Menopause Society and director of endocrinology and diabetes at Dandenong Hospital.
The research team includes endocrinologist Professor Henry Burger, medical herbalist Associate Professor Kerry Bone, and integrative medicine doctor and RMIT head of complementary medicine Professor Marc Cohen.
Dr Teede said some concerns among doctors and menopausal women over the use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) have led to more women turning to natural alternatives.
"It has never been more important to provide evidence for these treatments from properly conducted clinical trials such as this," Dr Teede said. "I feel it is very important to support such research."
The researchers are seeking women aged between 40 and 60. The study focuses on women currently undergoing menopause, those approaching it and those in their early post-menopausal stage. Participants must be experiencing flushing and/or night sweats in conjunction with other menopausal symptoms such as anxiety, nervous tension, depression, mood changes or sleep disturbances.
Volunteers will be required to take either St John's Wort and Chaste Tree herbal tablets or identical dummy tablets for a period of 16 weeks, and complete short monthly questionnaires. Both herbs have a long tradition for treating menopausal symptoms and are widely prescribed by herbalists and naturopaths.
After an initial interview, participants will be randomly assigned to either the placebo group or treatment group.
Neither the volunteers nor the researchers will be aware which tablets will be being allocated until after the trial.
Participants in the placebo group will be offered the treatment free of charge for three months after the trial if effective.
The study is being conducted by RMIT University postgraduate researcher and herbalist, Diana van Die, under the supervision of Professor Cohen.
People interested in taking part in the research or would like further information should contact Diana van Die on (03) 9925 6548 or 0403 011 151 or look up the website: www.rmit.edu.au/departments/ps/research/pb/vandie/trial.htm