If the amount of steroid hormones in your brain suddenly decreases – for example because you’re taking an anti-oestrogen like tamoxifen – you can start to get hot flushes. Chemical athletes, cancer patients and women in the menopause often experience these. Brazilian doctors discovered that supplementation with a mere 100 mg guarana extract daily can prevent hot flushes.
The doctors did an experiment with 15 women, all of whom had undergone treatment for breast cancer and were on tamoxifen. The women had at least two hot flushes a day. That’s normal. Studies have shown that about seventy percent of women using tamoxifen are troubled by hot flushes.
The doctors gave the women a pill containing 50 mg guarana extract twice a day for a period of six weeks. The product was manufactured by the Brazilian company Pharma Nostra [pharmanostra.com.br] and consisted of 8 percent caffeine and 1.5 percent tannin.
There was no control group.
During the six weeks that the experiment lasted the subjects experienced fewer hot flushes and their intensity decreased too. Both effects were statistically significant.
Two-thirds of the women reported a halving of the number of hot flushes they had.
No serious side effects were observed.
The researchers are not sure exactly how guarana – Latin name Paullinia cupana – works, but are encouraged by the results of their small study. “The thermogenic and/or anti-inflammatory properties of Paullinia cupana, the potential changes this plant could induce in the central nervous system catecholamines levels might provide perspectives for investigations in the future”, they wrote.
“Paullinia cupana seemed to be safe, with no instances of discontinuation of therapy because of side effects. This promising agent should be studied further.”
Paullinia cupana for control of hot flashes in breast cancer patients: a pilot study.
To evaluated whether Paullinia cupana decrease number and severity of hot flashes in breast cancer survivors.
This was a prospective phase II pilot study. We studied female breast cancer survivors who had completed the cancer treatment 3 months previously and who were experiencing at least 14 hot flashes per week. At least 9 of the 15 patients were required to have a decrease of at least 50% in hot flash severity score in keeping with the Simon Design. Patients received 50mg of dry extract of Paullinia cupana orally twice a day for 6 weeks. We assessed both frequency and severity of hot flashes.
A total of 18 patients started the Paullinia cupana treatment, and 15 completed the study. Three patients left the study immediately after starting the treatment because of personal difficulties in participation or noncompliance. Of the 15 patients who completed the study 10 had a decrease of more than 50% in hot flash severity scores. During the 6 weeks of treatment, statistically significant decreases were seen in both numbers of hot flashes (p=0.0009) and severity scores (p<0.0001). Paullinia cupana was well tolerated, and there were no instances of discontinuation because of toxicity.
Paullinia cupana appears promising for controlling hot flashes. More extensive studies seem warranted.
PMID: 24488380 PMCID: PMC4880378 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]