BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A novel non-estrogen-based therapy for hot
flashes will be tested for effectiveness in a clinical trial
conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo that is set
to begin in February.
The trial will assess the effectiveness of an amino acid, an
all-natural, non-hormonal dietary supplement, to eliminate the
sudden flushes that plague many postmenopausal women.
The study is funded by a $665,550 grant from the National Center
for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine of the National
Institutes of Health.
Amino acids are the molecules that combine to make proteins, the
body's building blocks. Many amino acids are acquired through the
diet. The UB researchers theorize that doses higher than can be
achieved in a normal diet of certain amino acids will reduce hot
Amino acid therapy appears to act on the hypothalamus, the part
of the brain that regulates temperature.
Thomas Guttuso, Jr., M.D., UB assistant professor of neurology
and principal investigator on the clinical trial, conducted a small
study in 2004 using the amino acid treatment with 15 postmenopausal
"The study showed very promising results in decreasing hot
flashes among these women, indicating the treatment deserved
further investigation," Guttuso related. He now is preparing to
conduct a 12-week study involving 100 women with hot flashes.
Half the women will get the active treatment in capsule form,
and half will receive an inactive capsule. Participants will report
the number of hot flashes a day and their intensity in a diary
throughout the trial to determine the treatment's
Guttuso discovered the potential of amino acid treatment for hot
flashes accidentally while treating a patient for migraine
"I placed a woman who was complaining of migraines on an
amino-acid-based prescription treatment called gabapentin that has
been shown to help prevent migraine headaches. A week later she
called to tell me her hot flashes were gone.
"This certainly was an unexpected effect of the medication," he
said. "It made me start to think that perhaps some of the
all-natural amino acids may also be effective hot flash
The gold standard hot-flash therapy for years has been hormone
replacement therapy, or HRT, but more information has come to light
showing that HRT might have some dangerous side effects.
"Since there were not many non-hormonal hot flash therapies
available, and because the number of women with hot flashes is so
large -- about 30 million women in the U.S. -- the University of
Rochester, where I was working at the time, patented the
Guttuso, meanwhile, published the first paper on this new use of
an amino acid in the journal Neurology in 2000. He followed that
with a paper in Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2003 reporting on
the successful use of gabapentin for hot flashes in a randomized
clinical trial involving 59 women.
The amino acid to be tested in the upcoming trial, while not
gabapentin, is known to work through the same mechanism.
Guttuso will begin recruiting women for the study in February.
Potential participants may call 716-829-2482 for more