Have you heard the radio ads for Amberen? Amberen, is a supplement that's supposed to be a natural remedy for menopause. Most of the ads I've heard included a testimonial from a registered nurse. That got me curious as I usually don't hear nurses touting supplements. Another thing that made me want to write an Amberen review was that I discovered that most of the info on Amberen online seemed to be written for the sole purpose of selling Amberen to women. Some websites even say Amberen is the fountain of youth! I know that's not true, but can Amberen provide menopause relief? I wanted to write a review on Amberen, based on the clinical research I could find, and along the way, help women answer some questions that they may be wondering about.
What Is Amberen?
Amberen is a dietary supplement touted to relieve symptoms of menopause. The product website (Amberen.com) says the supplement takes a “radically different approach” than other supplements by helping to support the hormone producing glands of the body.
That said, the product website is very specific that Ambern is not hormone replacement therapy. I would agree, the ingredients are not the
same as what would would expect to see in a menopause supplement.
For example, Amberen contains no soy, a common ingredient for menopause symptom relief.
Let's now look at the ingredients in Ambern and some of the menopause research on those ingredients and after that a look at the research on Amberen itself.
According to the products website (Amberen.com) 2 capsules contain 400 mg of the following ingredients:
- Ammonium succinate
- Calcium disuccinate
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Magnesium disuccinate
- Zinc disuccinate hydrate
- Tocopherol acetate
In the list above, ingredients at the top make up most of the product, while those at the end make up the least. For example, since ammonium succinate is the first ingredient, it makes up most of the 400 mg dose of Amberen. Keep that ingredient in mind as it comes up a lot in the Amberen research I'll summarize below.
The package of the product also lists these other ingredients:
- Rice flower
- Magnesium stearate
- Silicon dioxide
- Titanium dioxide
- Carmine (a food coloring)
These other ingredients likely play no role in the effects or benefits of the product.
Let's now look at each ingredient separately.
This is likely the main key ingredient in Ambern. In the research, this also called succinate acid. When I Googled ammonium succinate, practically everything I saw had to do with Amberen. There is research on this ingredient helping menopause (see the research section below). The product website says that ammonium succinate acts as an antioxidant inside the mitochondria, the “powerhouses” of our cells.
Trivia. Another, older, name for succinic acid is “Amber acid.” This likely where Ambern got its name from.
This is just another name for the mineral, calcium. The addition of calcium to the supplement does make sense given that low calcium levels seem to increase PMS symptoms. But studies on this issue tend to use a lot calcium (about 1ooo mg/day).
The product website mentions calcium is present, in part, to help bones, which tend to de-mineralize during after menopause.
The website for the product says this is not the same type of MSG used in processed food. How is it different? The website does not say. On the product website, this ingredient is called “monosodium L glutamate” but isn't that just another name for MSG? The company website says that only a small amount of MSG is used in Amberen in part to help “mitochondrial-benzodiazepine receptors.”
What does that mean?
I think they mean the MSG is supposed to help calm women down. Benzodiazepines are a class of medications that that help reduce anxiety.
The company website says there is only a small amount of MSG present – 40mg per serving.
Glycine is an amino acid (non essential amino acid, meaning we make this in our body). The product website says glycine is used to help the mitoconidra in the brain work better which in turn, helps improve “psycho-emotional balance.”
There is some evidence that glycine may help memory in both young and middle age adults. Since some women report memory problems with menopause, this may be another reason why glycine was added to the product.
This is another name for the mineral, magnesium. There are a few studies that magnesium might help with PMS symptoms like fluid weight gain and mood changes.
Zinc Disuccinate Hydrate
This is the mineral, zinc. As the product website states, zinc does a lot of different things in the body. Zinc defiency is rare for most people living in the US. The RDA for zinc is 8 mg/day in women.
Most know by its usual name – vitamin E. At least one study noted that vitamin E did not help hot flashes. I feel the jury is out on this issue until better studies can be done. Because vitamin E is an antioxidant, its sometimes added to a supplement to help the product from spoiling.
What does the research say about how effective Amberen is? There are indeed clinical studies on Amberen (and succinc acid itself). Let's look at each study briefly and see what we can find out about them.
Treatment of climacteric symptoms with an ammonium succinate-based dietary supplement: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. This was a 3 month long study that involved 125 women aged 42-60 years of age. The women either took a placebo or Amberen. Questionnaires completed by the women showed that Amberen eased 13 out of 21 different menopause symptoms.
Blood tests also noted Amberen raised estrogen levels. Other hormones such as leptin also were altered. Researchers also noted that the
women showed positive changes in body weight and waist circumference too. This is interesting given that Amberen, at one time was marketed to help reduce weight gain associated with menopause.
A Succinate-Based Composition Reverses Menopausal Symptoms Without Sex Hormone Therapy. This is a lab rat study. Amberen was given to older laboratory mice for 4 weeks. Amberen treatment was noted to improve several menopausal symptoms in the mice. The study was supported by Lunada Biomedical, makers of Amberen and published in Advanced in Gerontology, 21,2 298-305 (2008).
A Succinate-Based Composition ”Rejuvenates” Aging Mice and Alleviates Menopausal Symptoms in Women Without Sex Hormone Replacement Therapy. This study was a little hard to find. The citation that was listed on the Amberen website lists “Medline” as the source of the study but it is actually the “Russian” version of medline – Medline.Ru where the study is found. This study appears to be the very same study as the 2008 study mentioned above.
I think the studies are the same because the authors for this 2007 study are the same as the 2008 study. It just seems to be published in a different journal. This 2007 study was published in Gerontology Endocrinology, vol. 8, Art. 46, pp. 497-517.
Here is the first page of the 2005 Amberen study. I was unable to find a full text version of the study online. Basically, 70 women were given either an Amberen like preparation or placebo for 3 weeks. Those receiving Amberen appeared to improve more than those who got the placebo. Study was published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine (September 2005), 140 (3), pg. 312-314.
Several of the authors of this study were the same as those in the 2007 and 2008 studies.
The 5 year Study
At one time, the Amberen website listed a “5 year study” (they don't list it now). But no details of this study were given. I cannot find any citation for where the study was published.
The 4 Week Animal Study
At one time ,the product website listed a 4 week study of older, laboratory mice. No details were given about this study, but it sounds similar to the 2007 and 2008 Amberen mice studies mentioned above. I could not tell for sure since no details about this study were listed.
The 6 Week Animal Study
Again, the Amberen website gives no details about this study other than that Amberen was given to older female mice for 6 weeks and it helped them.
Even though the company that makes the product is based in the US, Many of the studies were conducted in Russia.
Amberen And Belly Fat
While they don't make the claim now, in the past, I've heard radio commercials stating that Amberen targets “stubborn belly fat.” But there appears to be no proof for this statement. I don't know why the company was trying to promote it as a weight loss supplement. It's is a menopause supplement, not a weight loss supplement. Apparently FTC thinks so too and went after the makers of the product for making unsubstantiated claims.
Also see this letter that details how the makers of Amberen have settled with the FTC over inaccurate weight loss claims.
Is It Vegan?
The website for the product says that it is vegetarian. Because the capsules contain gelatin, its technically not “vegan.”
How Much Should You Take?
It's recommended to take 2 capsules per day. Take 1 white capsule and 1 red capsule after breakfast.
Can You Take It On An Empty Stomach?
I'm not aware of any evidence that says you can't do this but the product website says to take it with food. My guess is this is to reduce chances of GI discomfort (no proof of this though. It's a guess).
Amberen Side Effects
For the vast majority of women, I feel Amberen is perfectly safe. None of the Amberen clinical studies have reported bad side effects either.
As you read the comments below, you'll notice some women have said they developed headaches after taking this product. Could that be due to the MSG or something else? The good news is that this side effect seems to be very rare. Here are some general things to consider when taking this dietary supplement. This list is not complete:
- While the product is likely very safe, here are some things to consider
- Stop taking the product at least 2 weeks before having surgery
- The product is not intended for women who are not going through menopause or pre-menopause.
- The product should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Women who have headache issues, should ask their pharmacist if Amberen is right for them.
- Speak to your doctor/your pharmacist first if you take any prescription medications.
Amberen & Carol Nicholson
At one time, Carol Nicholson (Carol Nicholson-Kriegel), a registered nurse, was often heard in the Amberen radio commercials. Carol was identified on the Amberen website as “our menopause expert”. In addition to being a registered nurse, she also owns an advertising agency called International Marketing Company (IMC22.com).
Today however Carol is not found on the Lunada Biomedical website. In her place, there are now pictures of nursers named “Holly” and “Marcy.”
How To Speak To A Nurse?
To speak to a nurse about Amberen, call 800-211-8012. The nurses featured on the product website are “Holly D” who is an RN and “Marcy L” who is a VN which I believe is a “vocational nurse.”
On the website they call nurses “NurseAid” and “Nurse Aid Agents.” By whatever name we call them, they can help answer questions about the supplement but cannot give medical advice.
Who Makes Amberen?
Amberen supplements are a product of a company called Lunada Biomedical. The website for that company is LunadaBioMed.com. On their website, they list their contact address asPO Box 452750 Los Angeles, CA 90045
Because BioMedical, is in the name of the company, for me, this contours up images of a brick-and-mortar facility that conducts biomedical research. With that said, I wonder why the contact address is a PO Box? The Better Business provides this contact number: 310-568-1013.
A customer service number for the company is: 800-222-2304.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the address on file with them for the Lunada Biomedical: 6733 S Sepulveda Blvd #108, Los Angeles, CA 90045-1551. Google street view shows an office building at this location. The “#108” might refer to a suite number in the building. If you Google the address (without the #108) you can see other businesses also list the same address.
Where To Buy Amberen?
Amberen vs Estroven
|Amberen 2 capsules||Estroven 1 caplet|
|Ammonium succinate||Total carbs <1g|
|Calcium disuccinate||Calcium (dicalcium phosphate) 90 mg (10%DV)|
|Monosodium Glutamate||Black cohosh root extract 80mg|
|Glycine||Soy isoflavones 60 mg|
|Magnesium disuccinate||Green tea leaf extract 100 mg|
|Zinc disuccinate hydrate||Yerba mate leaf extract 30 mg|
|Tocopherol acetate||Magnolia bark extract 15 mg|
What Is RU-21?
if you read through the comments below, you will find women who have stated that an anti-hangover supplement called RU-21 helped their hot flashes. Two capsules of RU21 contains 200 mg of succinic acid.
I have no idea if it helps hangovers (or hot flashes) but RU-21 is less expensive than Amberen. While I can't guarantee that it will work for everybody, here is RU-21 on Amazon and here is Amberen on Amazon for those who are interested.
Does Amberen Work?
Based on what I could find, it seems that there is some evidence that Ameren might help ease some of the symptoms of menopause. If Amberen really works, it might be because of the ingredient called succinic acid, which is likely the the active ingredient. Might all the other ingredients in Amberen make it work better than just succinic acid? Of course. Anything is possible.
While I have reservations about some of the Amberen research, the studies do exist and that does set Amberen apart from many of its counterparts.