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Understanding Why Homeopathic Medicines are Used for Menopause: Searching for Insights into Neuroendocrine Features.

BACKGROUND:  Menopause is a physiological event that marks the end of a woman's reproductive stage in life. Vasomotor symptoms and changes in mood are among its most important effects. Homeopathy has been used for many years in treating menopausal complaints, though clinical and pre-clinical research in this field is limited. Homeopathy often bases its prescription on neuropsychiatric symptoms, but it is unknown if homeopathic medicines (HMs) exert a neuroendocrine effect that causes an improvement in vasomotor symptoms and mood during menopause.

OBJECTIVES:  The study's objectives were to address the pathophysiological changes of menopause that could help in the understanding of the possible effect of HMs at a neuroendocrine level, to review the current evidence for two of the most frequently prescribed HMs for menopause ( Lachesis mutus and Sepia officinalis ), and to discuss the future directions of research in this field.

METHODS:  An extensive literature search for the pathophysiologic events of menopause and depression, as well as for the current evidence for HMs in menopause and depression, was performed.

RESULTS:  Neuroendocrine changes are involved in the pathophysiology of vasomotor symptoms and changes in mood during menopause. Gonadal hormones modulate neurotransmitter systems. Both play a role in mood disorders and temperature regulation. It has been demonstrated that Gelsemium sempervirens , Ignatia amara and Chamomilla matricaria exert anxiolytic effects in rodent models. Lachesis mutus and Sepia officinalis are frequently prescribed for important neuropsychiatric and vasomotor symptoms. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in mood, is among the constituents of the ink of the common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis .

CONCLUSION:  Based on all the pathophysiologic events of menopause and the improvement in menopausal complaints that certain HMs show in daily practice, these medicines might have a direct or indirect neuroendocrine effect in the body, possibly triggered via an as-yet unidentified biological mechanism. Many unanswered questions in this field require further pre-clinical and clinical research.

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