There is little scientific evidence that complementary and alternative therapies can help menopausal symptoms or provide the same benefits as conventional therapies. Yet many women use them, believing them to be safer and 'more natural' especially following the current controversies regarding HRT. The choice of treatments is confusing and unlike conventional medicines, little is known about their active ingredients, safety or side effects or how they may interact with other therapies. They can interfere with warfarin, antidepressants and anti-epileptics with potentially fatal consequences. Some herbal preparations may contain oestrogenic compounds and this is of concern for women with hormone dependent disease such as breast cancer. There is also concern about contaminants such as mercury, arsenic, lead and pesticides. Legislation is soon to be introduced which will make it mandatory for herbal preparations to at least be registered with the MHRA. This will at least allow some control over products which may be completely ineffective or dangerous and it is essential that alternatives to licensed preparations should be judged by similar standards.
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