OBJECTIVE: Hormone therapy with estrogen alone or combined with progestogen has come into disrepute because of safety concerns. Herbal medicinal products with an estrogenic action caused by their content of phytoestrogens constitute an alternative therapy. However, the estrogenic adverse effects of such products have caused some concern. The pollen extract Femal has been shown to be effective in the treatment of menopausal symptoms like hot flushes and sleeplessness. The present investigation was undertaken to examine if this pollen extract preparation contained phytoestrogens in a concentration sufficient to give the preparation an estrogenic effect. METHODS: Samples of the pollen extract in Femal were subjected to high-performance liquid chromatography analyses of phytoestrogens. The pollen extract was tested for estrogenic activity in the immature rat uterotropic bioassay. RESULTS: The pollen extracts were found to contain low, subeffective concentrations of daidzin, daidzein, and genistin. Genistein, formononetin, and biochanin A could not be detected. Pollen extract in the high dose of 500 mg kg day did not cause any uterine growth in immature female rats. CONCLUSIONS: The results show that the pollen extract in Femal does not give the preparation any estrogenic effect. Thus, Femal, which has proven clinical efficacy, is a nonestrogenic alternative to hormone therapy in women with menopausal symptoms.
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