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Gend Med. 2008;5 Suppl A:S76-90. doi: 10.1016/j.genm.2008.03.008.

Effects of botanical dietary supplements on cardiovascular, cognitive, and metabolic function in males and females.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.



The onset of menopause marks a pivotal time in which the incidence of hypertension and of cardiovascular disease (CVD) begins to increase dramatically in women. Before menopause, the incidences of these diseases are significantly lower in women than in age-matched men. After menopause, the rates of these diseases in women eventually approximate those in men. The loss of endogenous estrogen at menopause has been traditionally believed to be the primary factor involved in these changes.


This review summarizes recent findings regarding the effectiveness of botanicals in the treatment of some menopausal symptoms and other symptoms of aging (eg, rise in arterial pressure, cognitive decline, insulin resistance, and hyperlipidemia).


Articles were selected for inclusion in this review based on the significance of the research and contribution to the current understanding of how each botanical elicits cardioprotective effects. To this end, PubMed and MEDLINE databases were searched, using terms that included the name of the specific botanical along with the relevant aspects of its action(s), such as blood pressure, glycemic control, and lipids. Most of the articles used were published within the past 5 years, although some older articles that were seminal in advancing the current understanding of botanicals were also included.


Soy has been found to lower plasma lipid concentrations and arterial pressure in postmenopausal women and age-matched men, and to have protective effects in heart disease and atherosclerosis of the carotid and coronary circulation. Soy was also found to lower fasting insulin concentrations and glycosylated hemoglobin concentrations. Grape seed extract, another frequently used botanical, contains polyphenols that have been found to reduce arterial pressure and salt-sensitive hypertension in estrogendepleted animal models.


Several botanical compounds have been found to have beneficial effects in the treatment of the symptoms of menopause and other symptoms of aging, including CVD, cognitive decline, and metabolic diseases.

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