When it comes to hot flashes, we all want the same thing, sweet sweet relief. If you are on HRT, you might already be getting some relief but while the typical course of HRT is 5 years, the average woman gets hot flashes or night sweats for about 7 years. The math speaks for itself. Whether you are on HRT or not, finding alternative ways to reduce, or maybe even eliminate, hot flashes would be a dream come true. While there is no one proven method that works for all women, the suggestions below have been shown to work for some of us.
Once believed to be associated with breast cancer risk, a study conducted in 2014 showed that black cohosh is safe and does not increase your breast cancer risk. Taking black cohosh daily can decrease the number and severity of hot flashes. 40-80 mg daily is the recommended dose, but be sure to check with your doctor before taking this or any other herbal supplements.
Medical rhubarb, a plant native to the Volga River Valley of Russia purportedly can heighten the brain’s ability to control body temperature, and taking 4 mg. of rhubarb extract daily could reduce hot flash episodes by 75%. Rhubarb extract fans also say that it helps in weight loss by curbing cravings and supporting metabolism. An article at WebMD states “The results of a recent study, published in the journal Menopause, showed that treatment with the rhubarb extract significantly reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes in the perimenopausal women compared with the placebo.”
Relaxation techniques can help minimize hot flashes by inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system reaction that accompanies hot flashes. Mindful breathing also reduces cortisol levels, a major trigger for hot flashes. To help reduce hot flash frequency and intensity; twice a day, breathe at a rate of six - eight breaths per minute for 15 minutes. Beyond helping to manage your hot flashes, deep breathing can help reduce the anxiety about symptoms that could be making them worse, and also improve sleep quality.
Unleash the power of your mind
Some women claim that thinking about snow, or imagining themselves as a bag of peas in the freezer helps reduce the sensation of heat nearly instantly. A new Baylor University study has shown that women who specifically pictured images associated with coolness during hypnotherapy had a dramatic decrease in hot flashes. You don’t need to undergo hypnosis to try this one. Next time you feel a hot flash coming on, try imagining yourself in an igloo built on a frozen lake.
According to A.D.A.M, an online health content provider, when compared to hormone replacement therapy, 40 grams of flaxseed per day was reported to be equally as effective in reducing hot flashes, vaginal dryness and mood disturbances. Flaxseed also seems to have some anti-estrogen qualities that could decrease the risk of breast cancer. There are few side effects associated with consuming flaxseed, so adding it to your smoothie, pasta, salad etc. is a safe and cost effective way to try this natural remedy.
It might seem like a no-brainer that spicy foods can actually trigger a hot flash, but did you know that caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol can too? So basically, all the coping foods we love. Try to limit these foods for a few weeks and see if your symptoms improve. Adding nuts, oilseeds, soy products and legumes can help with the severity and frequency of hot flashes.
It’s thought that Japanese women have very few menopausal symptoms thanks to their high omega-3 diet. Diets rich in fatty fish like tuna, sardines, oysters and anchovies provide the highest omega-3 content but you can also increase your intake with omega-3 fortified eggs, juice and yogurt and also by eating flaxseed, walnuts, spinach and cauliflower. I love the health benefits of olive oil, but canola and soybean oil are better if you are trying to add omega-3 to your diet. IMPORTANT: More than 3 grams of omega-3s per day may make bleeding more likely if you take anti-platelet drugs, such as aspirin. While you’re not likely to get that much from a typical diet, talk with your doctor before taking high doses of omega-3 supplements.
Study participants took 400 IU vitamin E daily for four weeks and found that it had a significant impact on hot flash severity. This is one that you don’t necessarily have to take in capsule form. Good food sources of vitamin E include sweet potato, almonds, leafy greens, sunflower seeds, avocados, broccoli and squash. Increasing these in your diet might provide some relief.
If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know that I am a big fan of acupuncture. As a migraine sufferer, finding relief from those debilitating headaches through acupuncture was like finding the Holy Grail. Acupuncture has been shown to help with arthritis symptoms, reduce nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy, relieve discomfort of labor pain, help with allergies, and yes, alleviate the hot flashes and night sweats that often accompany menopause. A Danish study published in early 2019 concluded that “Standardized and brief acupuncture treatment produced a fast and clinically relevant reduction in moderate-to-severe menopausal symptoms during the six-week intervention.” Better yet, no severe adverse effects were reported. Participants reported significant decreases in hot flushes, hot flashes, night sweats, general sweating, sleep problems, emotional symptoms and even skin and hair symptoms.
Please comment below if you have tried other foods, supplements, herbs or treatments that have helped with your hot flashes. You never know, your suggestion might help improve the quality of life of another reader and wouldn’t that be awesome!