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.
The Amberen website says that “Amberen has been clinically tested and extensively studied for over 30 years“. There are studies listed on the Amberen website. Let's look at each study briefly and see what we can find out about them.
2008 Amberen study. 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).
2007 Amberen study. 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 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. The Amberen website also lists a “5 year study”. But no details of this study are given. As such it is hard to say how good it is or how the study was performed. This may not be a published peer reviewed study since I cannot find any citation for where the study was published.
The 4 week animal study. The Amberen website lists a 4 week study of older laboratory mice. No details are 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. This may not be a published peer reviewed study.
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.
The studies of Amberen's ingredients are also listed on the Amberen website. ALL of these studies appear to be investigating one specific ingredient in Amberen called , succinic acid (also called succinate) – and not Amberen itself.
The studies of the Amberen ingredients (specifically succinate acid) date back to 1972 while the studies on Amberen itself dont seem to begin until 2005. This is how they are able to say that” Amberen has been clinically tested and extensively studied for over 30 years.” It's over 30 years if you include in the studies on the ingredients (specifically succinic acid).
Succinic acid is compound formed during the Krebs cycle. This is the aerobic energy system that we all use when we break down fats and carbs (sugars) aerobically. That's not really important but I thought I'd mention it in case anyone wondered.
Amberen Trivia: Amberen gets its name from succinic acid. An older name for succinic acid is “Amber Acid”.
According to the Amberen website (AmberenOnline.com) I find that Amberen is composed of the following active ingredients:
- Ammonium succinate
- Calcium disuccinate
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Magnesium disuccinate
- Zinc disuccinate hydrate
- Tocopherol acetate
Since this is a proprietary blend, the label only says that each of these ingredients adds up to 400 mg (in 2 capsules). We are not told how much of each ingredient is in Amberen.
That said, ingredients are often listed such that those at the top of the list are the most plentlyful and those at the bottom are the least plentyful. As such, I believe Amberen contains the most Amonium succinate and the least tocopherol acatate.
Let's now look at each ingredient separately.
This is likely the succinate that has received most of the research since the 1970s. When I Googled ammonium succinate, practically everything I saw had to do with Amberen.
The “ingredient studies” on the Amberen website are ALL on succinate. Therefore, I believe succinate is the main active ingredient in Amberen.
When I the searched the national library of medicine for “ ammonium succinate and menapause” I discovered the 2008 study summarized above.
This study does indicate that it was supported and initiated by the makers of Amberen, Lunada Biomedical. That's not really a bad thing. I appreciate it when a company supports research on their supplements -most companies do not do this.
Tip. if you read through the comments you will find women who say that an anti-hangover supplement called RU-21 helped their hot flashes. 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.
This is just another name for the mineral, calcium. The addition of calcium to Amberen does make some sense given that low calcium levels seem to increase PMS symptoms. But studies on this issue tend to use more calcium than is found in Amberen (about 1ooo mg/day). Less calcium may also work but I could not find any research on this.
This is MSG, a popular food additive and is something to think about if you are sensitive to MSG. MSG can cause headaches in some people. If you read the comments section below, you will see that some people have reported headaches after taking Amberen. Other side effects of MSG can include, heart palpitations, sweating, facial numbness and chest pain.
Monosodium glutamate is related to the non essential amino acid, glutamine. Bodybuilders often like glutamine supplements because they think it will help them recover faster following hard core exercise sessions. For more on glutamine, read my review of glutamine supplements. Exercise not withstanding, the question is, would glutamine (or MSG) help women recover faster from PMS or menopausal symptoms? I'm not sure because I can't find any research one way or another.
Glycine is an amino acid (non essential amino acid, meaning we make this in our body). 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 why glycine was added to Amberen. People with schizophrenia should avoid glycine. Glycine may make schizophrenia worse when combined with schizophrenia medications.
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. Studies are far from complete and tend to use more magnesium than is in Amberen, but the research does exist.
Zinc Disuccinate Hydrate
This is the mineral, zinc. Zinc might help muscle cramping. I could not find any specific research on zinc helping PMS or menopausal symptoms. In those who eat well, being deficient in zinc is rare in the USA. Some may have heard that zinc is needed in women who take birth control pills.
But, according to one study, there is no good proof that that oral contraceptives cause zinc deficiency. Keep in mind that zinc supplements might reduce HDL levels (“good cholesterol”). Amberen likely has very little zinc but the RDA for zinc is 8 mg/day in women. As such, its pretty easy to get more than the recommended daily allowance.
Most know by its usual name – vitamin E. There is not much evidence one way or another when it comes to vitamin E and menopause symptoms. A t 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. I'm obviously guessing, but might this be why Amberen has vitamin E?
Can Amberen Reduce Belly Fat?
Amberen radio commercials state that Amberen targets “stubborn belly fat.” From the research that I have seen there appears to be no proof of this statement. If Amberen really did promote fat loss from the belly, it would mean Amberen was capable of spot reduction.
There is no credible proof for spot reduction. I don't know why the makers of Amberen are trying to promote it as a weight loss supplement. Amberen is a menopause supplement, not a weight loss supplement. None of the research I have seen shows that Amberen helps weight loss in the belly – or anywhere else.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the FTC is also not happy with Amberen (Lunada Biomedical, the maker of Amberen) being marketed for weight loss. The BBB has an Alert that discusses this in more detail. See the BBB file for more information. Also see this letter that details how the makers of Amberen have settled with the FTC over inaccurate weight loss claims.
Amberen Side Effects
Im not aware of any side effects from Amberen at the time I wrote this review. None of the Amberen clinical studies have reported bad side effects either. Amberen sells another product called Amberen Menopause Relief. At the bottom of the FAQ page for that product they say
“If you're currently taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications that are designed to alter your natural hormone levels, Amberen may not be right for you. Make sure to consult your doctor, especially if you are a cancer survivor or have a severe thyroid disorder.”
They don't specifically say which ingredients might be responsible for this potential interaction. Amberen Menopause Relief contains some different ingredients than regular Amberen . As such, I'm unclear if this warning pertains to both products or just the menopause relief supplement. I'm also unclear as to what they mean by “a severe thyroid disorder.” By “severe” I'd take that to mean thyroid cancer, but could they also be referring to hypothyroidism? When in doubt about this, show the ingredients to your pharmacist and/or doctor and see what they think.
Amberen & Carol Nicholson
Carol Nicholson (Carol Nicholson-Kriegel), a registered nurse, is often heard in the Amberen radio commercials. She is also featured in a video clip on the Amberen website. Carol is identified on the Amberen website as “our menopause expert”. In the video, Carol indicates that in addition to being a registered nurse, she also owns an advertising agency called International Marketing Company and indicates that she “is in the natural products industry“. Carol also has a blog on the Amberen site.
I noticed as I watched the video clip of Carol, that her voice doesn't sound like the voice I've heard many times on the Amberen radio commercials. Just something that occurred to me.
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 as PO Box 45008 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 website also provides this contact phone number for the headquarters: 310-568-1048. They also provide this customer service number: 800-222-2304.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the address on file with them for the Lunada Biomedical
Does Amberen Work?
Based on what I could find, it seems that there are currently 3 published peer reviewed studies on Amberen itself. The first study was done in 2005. All of the studies I found were conducted by basically the same group of people. All studies appear to have been performed in Russia. If Amberen works, it seems to me that the ingredient called succinic acid is the active ingredient. You may be able to get succinic acid on Amazon.com.
I have no proof either way that the other Amberen ingredients offer any advantage over just taking succinic acid. Succinic acid supplements are available and cost less than Amberen. If Amberen really works it would be interesting to see how it compares to women who only take succinic acid.
It's hard to tell whether Amberen will help all women with menopause or not. In theory there may be something to Amberen but how much it help might vary. While I have some reservations about the Amberen research, the studies (while fewer in number) do exist and that does set Amberen apart from many of its counterparts.
Amberen is on Amazon for those who want to try it out or see what others are saying