How to cope with hot flashes
Over 75% of women experience hot flashes during the transition to menopause, making it the most common symptom.
Hot flashes involve a temporary sensation of heat associated with sweating or flushing of the skin. They often last from 30 seconds to 10 minutes and vary in intensity.
Although hormone replacement therapy (which replaces estrogen lost when the ovaries reduce production) is one treatment, its possible side effects and risks encourage many women to try natural remedies.
6 natural ways to naturally alleviate hot flashes:
1. Adjust clothing.
Learn to dress in layers. Remove top layers when hot flashes become intense. Keep ice water handy and sip when internal temperatures rise. Wear lightweight, loose pajamas and use bed linens made with cotton to reduce night sweats.
2. Herbal relief.
While studies of their effectiveness are mixed, many women use herbal remedies to control symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes. These include:
Black cohosh. This is also referred to by the scientific names Actaea racemosa and Cimicifuga racemosa. Avoid if you suffer from liver disease.
Dong quai or Angelica sinensis. Avoid if taking Coumadin (warfarin) due to drug interference.
Red clover otherwise know by its scientific name – Trifolium pratense. Though generally safe, avoid it if bleeding problems are present – it can increase the risk of bleeding complications.
Soy products. Try tempeh, which is a fermented form of tofu as well miso or tamari (a naturally fermented soy sauce).
Evening primrose oil. The scientific name for this oil is Oenothera biennis. While generally considered safe, it may interact adversely with certain psychiatric and blood thinning medications. Consult with your GP before taking.
Acupuncture can decrease the incidence and intensity of hot flashes. A 2011 British Medical Journal study documented that acupuncture reduced hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Acupuncture involves placing thin sterile needles into specific areas of the body, resulting in an increase in the flow of chi, or energy.
4. Eat a well-balanced diet.
Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains rather than saturated fats found in dairy products and meat products. Avoid alcohol, sugar and trans fats, found in highly processed foods.
5. Mindfulness meditation.
This is a practice based on a focus of experiences moment-by-moment. A study by the National Center For Complementary and Integrative Health found mindfulness meditation training reduced the intensity of hot flashes and other symptoms of anxiety, stress, insomnia and improved the overall quality of life.
6. Quit smoking.
7. Regular exercise.
Aerobic exercise decreases the intensity and frequency of hot flashes. Take part in any physical activity that increases the heart and respiratory rate. Try brisk walking, jogging, cycling, running, swimming, tennis or golf. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, five days weekly.
Try anaerobic exercise – free weights or weight machines will help tone and increase muscle mass.
LAURA PEISCHL. BA, INHC
Laura is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Holistic Menopause Health Specialist and Certified Hormone Health and Wellness Practitioner. She is the founder and owner of Feel Good Menopause.