Update 7/22/19. Amberen is a popular menopause supplement with women all over the world who say it works. Recently, this dietary supplement has come under scrutiny by some medical professionals due to its possible association a heart problem called spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). No doubt, you will be hearing about this on the news. Few, however, have actually looked at the research. I've read the clinical report and thought it was worth bringing to your attention. This review will put the report in its proper context and help you decide if Amberen is right for you.
What is SCAD?
Before we go any further, what is spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD)? As you might guess, it's a pretty serious medical issue. A coronary artery dissection occurs when there is a tear in the wall of a coronary blood vessel. This tear leads to reduced blood flow to the heart. Sometimes SCAD is mistaken for a heart attack.
Fortunately, something like this is very rare. Unfortunately, though it often occurs spontaneously, without prior warning.
Who Gets SCAD?
For unknown reasons, the condition is more common in healthy women. Some studies note a higher rate in postmenopausal women and in women who recently gave birth. This hints there may be a hormone connection. At the end of the day, however, we have more questions than answers.
Next, let's review the supplement and its possible connection to heart problems (SCAD)
What Is Amberen?
This dietary supplement is touted to reduce menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. The company which makes the supplement used to also say it helped weight loss too but stopped after the FTC reached out to them.
The ingredients in Amberen are as follows:
- Ammonium succinate
- Calcium disuccinate
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Magnesium disuccinate
- Zinc disuccinate hydrate
- Tocopherol acetate
The first ingredient listed – ammonium succinate – is likely the key ingredient and where the supplement get's its name from. Another name for ammonium succinate is amber acid.
Amberen Heart Problems Research
The controversy surrounding this dietary supplement stems from a report published in 2019 titled Multivessel Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection: Amberen as a Possible Risk Factor.
Here is a summary of the report.
A 55-year-old woman was admitted to the hospital complaining of classic heart attack symptoms such as chest pain and radiating pain from her chest to her jaw. She had been having other heart attack symptoms too such as nausea, dizziness, and unusual sweating for at least 2 weeks before going to the hospital.
Routine medical tests revealed no heart problems although more advanced testing revealed a type II (most common type) spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) had occurred.
The woman told doctors she started taking the menopause supplement right around the time she started having symptoms.
Ultimately the women recovered and was discharged from the hospital.
Based on this, doctors speculated “this case report strongly suggests Amberen-induced SCAD.”
To be fair, one report from a single person cannot definitively tell us if the supplement is linked to heart problems.
So, has anyone else reported this side effect?
Amberen Side Effects
From the report above, we cannot know if Amberen caused SCAD in this woman. All the reports can tell us is the woman started having symptoms about the same time she started taking the supplement. So far, this seems to be the first report of SCAD heart problems linked to this supplement.
To get a better idea if there is a connection, we'd need a biochemical link or more reports from other people. So far, this has not happened.
Is there any other evidence?
Fortunately, the original Amberen review has hundreds of comments from women who've taken this supplement. While most women have said Amberen helped them, others have told of negative side effects.
For those doing their own research here is a breakdown of some of the reported Amberen side effects:
|Goiter||Itchy blisters on face|
|Panic attacks||Sensitive teeth|
|Pressure in the face||Fatigue|
|Mental disorientation||Thyroid problems|
Many of these side effects were attributed to the MSG in the supplement but it's not known if that's definitive. Also, remember these side effects are not proven. Rather they were listed by women who took the supplement.
One nurse mentioned in the comments she had elevated creatine phosphokinase (CPK) levels after taking the supplement. The enzyme CPK, goes up with muscle damage -including heart muscle damage. Again, it's difficult to understand what would cause this to happen. Another woman did say she felt a “weird numbness” on one side of the face that came and went. Another woman said her symptoms made her think she was having a stroke.
Some women have also reported withdrawal symptoms after they stopped taking the supplement. Symptoms women said they experienced included:
- Achy legs
- Heart palpitations
- foggy dizziness feelings
- Graves disease
Obviously, none of these comments prove a connection to heart problems. While words like nausea, achy legs, heart palpitations, fatigue, and dizziness, could signal a relationship to heart disease, they could also be due to other reasons too.
So, is Amberen Safe?
Based on the majority of women who commented on the original Amberen review, the supplement seems safe and in fact, appears to help common menopause symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. While some women have reported odd side effects, most have not. The report summarized above cannot prove Amberen is linked to spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). This could just be an unfortunate coincidence. That said, given the serious nature of SCAD, women should discuss the pros and cons of Amberen with their physician to find out if this solution is right for them.