Spruce Lignan May Lower Female Hot Flashes

December 16, 2013

Linnea's HMRlignan improves hot flashes in a study on postmenopausal women.

In addition to its popular uses for paper and Christmas trees, Norwegian spruce (Picea abies) is a substantial source of lignans. And research now suggests that these lignans can reduce female hot flashes.

Lignans are phytoestrogens found in numerous other plants, such as flax, but Norwegian spruce is uniquely high in 7-hydroxymatairesinol (7-HMR). Unlike other plant lignans, 7-HMR converts directly into mammalian lignan enterolactone, and studies suggest that healthy enterolactone levels come with lower rates of breast cancer and female hot flashes.

To assess the effect of a 7-HMR ingredient on postmenopausal women, U.S. researchers assigned 22 qualified women to a low dose or high dose of HMRlignan, a commercial spruce lignan ingredient from Linnea SA (Locarno, Switzerland), for eight weeks. Each woman submitted blood tests throughout the study and documented personal hot flashes in a daily diary.

Both doses of lignans provided statistically significant increases in 7-HMR and enterolactone in the body, but only the high dose brought about statistically significant hot flash reduction. Women consuming the high dose of HMRlignan experienced an average 50% drop in weekly hot flashes, from 28/week to 14/week.

Even with the low dose of HMRlignan, enterolactone blood levels peaked at 24 hours but remained significantly higher than baseline for as many as 72 hours. Such ingredient half-life could reasonably benefit consumers with the requirement of a single daily dose rather than multiple daily doses.

More research is needed to determine just how spruce lignans and other lignans can benefit female health parameters, but it appears to be related to antioxidant and phytoestrogenic properties of the ingredient.