Since HRT carries hormone side effects, I’m constantly looking for the best alternative treatment to use for low estrogen in menopause. This is particularly true for women with breast cancer.
The results seem to always be mixed for alternative treatments and the benefits of flaxseed is no exception. Flaxseeds contain a plant estrogen or phytoestrogen. A 2007 study suggested crushed flaxseed might help women with breast cancer or those with low estrogen in perimenopause. But a new study from the Mayo Clinic found flaxseed no better than a placebo for controlling hot flashes.
I think we have to weigh the benefits and risks. If a woman either can’t take or does not want to take HRT for low estrogen, trying the benefits of flaxseed can do no harm and may help. Make sure they are ground versus whole. I recommend adding 1 to 3 tablespoons to cereal in the morning as an easy way to get the correct amount.
We have to set our expectations. Hot flashes going away might not be a benefit of flaxseed, but they may come less often or be less intense so they don’t bother you as much. Combining that with drinking plenty of water, getting regular exercise and controlling weight will be helpful to most women.
There are also a lot of recipes and helpful tips with another phytoestrogen, soy in my cookbook, Eat to Defeat Menopause. Bottom line – when it comes to hot flashes, nothing works for everyone and everything works for some. If you are avoiding HRT, give the benefits of flaxseed a try.