Healing Hot Flashes
Menopause is sometimes paired with uncomfortable symptoms. A hot flash is a feeling of extreme heat, not caused by an external source such as our environment. A hot flash can appear suddenly, or you may feel it coming on gradually. How frequently and the duration of a hot flash will vary from woman to woman, though a women typically experiences a hot flash that lasts a few seconds to 10 minutes; about 4 minutes on average.
Each woman’s triggers for hot flashes may differ, but some common ones include the consumption of alcohol, caffeine and/or spicy food, stress, tight clothing, hot weather, smoking, and bending or slight movement. Though menopause is the most common time a woman may experience hot flashes, it is also common to experience during your period. This is because during these times, hormones are constantly fluctuating and balancing in order to aid normal body functions, specifically estrogen levels, which can narrow the range of temperatures the body can tolerate. Taking all of this into consideration, hot flashes can cause extreme discomfort and interfere with everyday activities, including work, social life, your sleep and intimacy.
Phytoestrogenic food - Hot flashes occur when fluctuating estrogen levels interfere with your body's ability to maintain a steady temperature. Soy and various other foods contain a form of estrogen called phytoestrogens, which help to stabilize and increase low estrogen. It will not only help relieve hot flashes but prevent heart disease and osteoporosis. Phytoestrogens mimic some of the biological activities of female hormones. Consume organic soy or foods containing phytoestrogens 4-5x/week in the form of organic, non-gmo tofu, soybeans, flaxseeds, nuts, whole grain, apples, fennel, celery, parsley, and alfalfa. A high intake of phytoestrogens is thought to explain why hot flashes rarely occur among women in Asian cultures. If you have breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer, or are at risk for any of these, you may want to speak with your healthcare professional about any risks associated with increasing your dietary soy intake.
Reduce/Eliminate Alcohol & Caffeine - Removing caffeine and alcohol from the diet (or at least minimizing) will have a significant effect on your hot flashes. Alcohol and caffeine are top aggravators of severe hot flashes, so finding alternatives and slowly reducing your intake is recommended. Hot flashes often flare up when women drink caffeine or wine, which both acidify the blood and strain the liver. One way to avoid this is to drink more fresh vegetable juice, which will counteract the effect by alkalinizing the system and support hormonal balance. Dandelion or chicory root teas are both great alternatives to coffee, which you can find at your local health food store.
Reduce Animal products- Milk, yogurt, buttermilk, cheese and meat all promote and contribute to hot flashes, so reducing your intake of animal products will help prevent your hot flashes over time. You may still consume organic eggs, salmon, whitefish, and white meat chicken into your diet occasionally, but the majority of your diet should be plant-based. Consume 50% raw fruits and vegetables, and replace meat with plant-based proteins such as hemp, chickpeas, quinoa, black beans, lentils, spirulina, and tempeh.
Keep Cool - Staying cool throughout the day will help you tolerate a sudden hot flash. Often times, women experience hot flashes during sleep. At night, a "chill pillow" filled with water or other cooling material may help when facing a heat flash. Also, using a fan in your room or other areas of your living space will help circulate air and provide a cool environment. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes made with natural fibers such as cotton to reduce body heat. A cold shower may also do the trick and has various benefits, including improving immunity and circulation, easing stress, speeding up muscle soreness and refining hair and skin!
Breath-work- Controlling and being aware of your breath will help your body reduce stress and allow you to push through a hot flash. Try deep and slow abdominal breathing (6 to 8 breaths per minute), focusing on the sound of your breath and imagining your body in a cool state. Practice deep breathing for 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening, and when a hot flash begins.
Daily Movement- Exercise is crucial in order to help the body regulate body heat. Sedentary women are 21% more likely to experience hot flashes. High intensity is best, but can and should be achieved gradually, especially for women who are typically sedentary or don’t have experience with intense exercise. Walking, swimming, spinning, bicycling, and dancing are all good choices and should be incorporated into the week at least 3-4x for 30 min - 1 hour, depending on the individual and their experience/endurance.
Hydration - Hot flashes increase your chance of becoming dehydrated. Because of the excessive sweating brought on by a hot flash, menopausal women need to drink more water to remain hydrated and to keep your body functioning optimally. Staying hydrated will provide an array of benefits, including detoxifying the body and regulating hormones.
Consume half your weight in oz periodically throughout the day to stay hydrated. Drink water from a glass bottle and look into investing in a water filtration system if you have not already, as this will provide your body with good quality water to hydrate every cell within you. You can also drink herbal teas and diluted fresh juices.
Red clover is an herbal remedy that has been used for centuries when dealing with hot flashes during menopause. When estrogen levels fall (such as during menopause), phytoestrogens called isoflavones can have positive effects in decreasing symptoms related to estrogen loss — such as hot flashes. Rich in isoflavones, the herb red clover helps to combat the intensity and frequency of hot flashes over time, and research has shown that daily intake of red clover can reduce menopausal hot flashes particularly when combined with probiotics.
TO USE:Red clover root can be consumed as an infusion, capsule, tincture or herbal tea, though I suggest consuming an infusion or cup of warm tea. Since isoflavones are very potent, a lower dosage is recommended. To make an infusion, use 2-4 tbsp of fresh red clover in a quart mason jar, cover with hot water and a lid. Let it sit for 4-8 hours (or overnight). Sip & Enjoy.
Black cohosh is a wonderful herb for the health of women because of its estrogen-modulating properties.
TO USE: Black cohosh root is best consumed as a tincture or infusion.
Dong Quai is an herb used in Chinese medicine that increases levels of estrogen in a woman's body. It mimics natural human hormones with an abundant amount of plant hormones called phytoestrogens that have a similar structure to estrogen. This will help balance your hormone levels, which in turn will help regulate your body temperature and diminish hot flashes.
TO USE: Dong Quai root is best taken in tincture or capsule form.
Motherwort is a favorite ally of menopausal women, as it has been found to lessen the severity, frequency, and duration of hot flashes, ease stressed nerves, relieve anxiety, and relieve insomnia. For best results with hot flashes, use this herb for 3 months.
TO USE: Motherwort is best consumed as an infusion or herbal tea. Drink Daily.
Probiotics - the gut bacteria are thought to have a tremendous impact on hormonal health. Establishing a healthy gut microflora is an important component to balancing hormones.
Dosage: 15-25 CFU daily, making sure to include strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are naturally occurring in the human digestive system.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as a powerful antioxidant to help reduce inflammation and hot flashes. Though it is not a direct antidote to hot flashes, boosting your intake could help prevent hot flashes by strengthening your immunity and general health.
GENERAL DOSAGE:2,000-5,000mg 2/day (more or less depending on bowel tolerance). 1,000mg/day of bioflavonoids.
Vitamin E is also an antioxidant that is beneficial when supplemented into your daily routine, as it will help to reduce hot flashes and other symptoms sometimes associated with fluctuating hormones. Use the emulsion form for better assimilation and absorption.
Evening primrose oil is a source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that can help influence prostaglandin synthesis and help moderate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Essential fatty acids in the form of evening primrose oil will have a variety of benefits on the body as it is trying to balance hormones and keep body heat under control. This oil will help with the production of estrogen, which is often low in a woman going through menopause. By helping out hormones balance through holistic measures, we are decreasing the chance of experiencing symptoms associated with imbalance, such as hot flashes.
GENERAL DOSAGE:3,000mg/day. Y
Gamma-oryzanol (Ferulic Acid) is a growth-promoting substance found in grains and isolated from rice bran oil. In the treatment of hot flashes, its primary action is to enhance pituitary function and promote endorphin release by the hypothalamus in the brain. Ferulic acid has been shown to reduce the secretion of luteinizing hormone by the pituitary. Hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms (profuse sweating, mood changes) often result indirectly from the over secretion of the luteinizing hormone.