Cimicifuga racemosa extracts (CRE) have obtained a “well-established use status” in the treatment of postmenopausal (i.e., climacteric) complaints, which predominantly include vasomotor symptoms such as hot flushes and sweating, as well as nervousness, irritability, and metabolic changes. Although characteristic postmenopausal complaints are known for a very long time and the beneficial effects of CRE on climacteric symptoms are well accepted, both the pathophysiology of postmenopausal symptoms and the mechanism of action of CREs are not yet fully understood. In particular, current hypotheses suggest that changes in the α-adrenergic and serotonergic signaling pathways secondary to estrogen depletion are responsible for the development of hot flushes.
Some of the symptoms associated with menopause cannot be explained by these hypotheses. Therefore, we attempted to extend our classic understanding of menopause by integrating of partly age-related metabolic impairments.
A comprehensive literature survey was performed using the PubMed database for articles published through September 2021. The following search terms were used: (cimicifuga OR AMPK) AND (hot flush* OR hot flash* OR menopaus* OR osteoporos* OR cancer OR antioxida* OR cardiovasc*). No limits were set with respect to language, and the references cited in the articles retrieved were used to identify additional publications.
We found that menopause is a manifestation of the general aging process, with specific metabolic changes that aggravate menopausal symptoms, which are accelerated by estrogen depletion and associated neurotransmitter dysregulation. Cimicifuga extracts with their metabolic effects mitigate climacteric symptoms but may also modulate the aging process itself. Central to these effects are effects of CRE on the metabolic key regulator, the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).
As an extension of this effect dimension, other off-label indications may appear attractive in the sense of repurposing of this herbal treatment.

Copyright © 2022. Published by Elsevier GmbH.