A neurologist at the University of Rochester has compiled the results of a study and found that the anti-epileptic drug gabapentin could help prevent hot flushes and sudden sweats in menopausal women.
The study, which only dealt with seven patients, may provide an alternative for women who cannot tolerate oestrogen or who are cautious of using the hormone because of fears of associated risks.
Gabapentin acts on the hypothalamus, which controls the body's temperature regulation. The hot flushes are thought to occur when the brain tells the body by mistake that it is too warm and therefore causes the person to get hot and sweaty. Gabapentin can be used with people with epilepsy as an adjunctive treatment of partial seizures with or without secondary generalisation.
The North American Menopause Society is cautious of the study saying, "It's great people are looking for a potential benefit from alternative treatments . . . but a study with six people is not a study. I don't think anyone should draw any conclusions from it." They added that 40 per cent of women with hot flushes would improve by a placebo alone.