The odds of a woman taking an herbal supplement for menopausal symptoms are affected by both the source of information on the supplement and whether or not she knows that the FDA does not regulate supplements, according to data presented at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) 2014 Annual Meeting.

There are many sources that can potentially provide information to menopausal women interested in using herbal supplements to support their health and manage their climacteric symptoms, but it is unclear whether the source of supplement information is associated with supplement consumption, researchers wrote in an abstract.

This study looked at potential associations between one-time supplement consumption an five sources: friends, family members, coworkers or self; health care provider; the Internet; books, newspapers, newsletters, radio, magazines, televisions shows or commercials; and a health store.

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Researchers used data from Stony Brook University’s Dietary Supplements in Menopause survey of menopausal and post-menopausal women aged 55 to 75 years. They evaluated associations through bivariate chi-square analysis and multivariate logistic regression. The sample was divided according to whether or not respondents knew that the FDA does not regulate supplements.

Data showed that menopausal women who received supplement information from a health care professional had 54% reduced odds of having taken an herbal supplement compared with those who did not use this source.

Compared with participants with mild symptoms, those with severe physical symptoms of menopause were 84% more likely to have taken a supplement.

Participants who were unsure whether the FDA regulated supplements were 60% less likely to have consumed a supplement than those who believed that the FDA does not regulate supplements, the researchers reported.

Among responders who believed the FDA does not regulate supplements, those who used health care providers as their source of information had 73% reduced odds of having taken a supplement compared with participants who did not consult this source. Within this subpopulation, those who went to health stores for information were 5.23 times more likely to have taken a supplement than those who didn’t use this source.

Including participants’ beliefs about the FDA’s role in regulating supplements provided greater understanding of supplement information sources and consumption behavior, the researchers wrote.

They concluded that this study suggests that health care providers should communicate with their menopausal patients about supplement regulation.


  1. Crnosija N et al. Abstract P-37. Presented at: North American Menopause Society (NAMS) 2014 Annual Meeting; Oct. 15-18, 2014; Washington, D.C.