Menopause is an inevitable time in a women’s life that comes with some uncomfortable side effects that may last for a considerable amount of time. Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause, as well as the most aggravating and uncomfortable symptom. Although these are not life threatening, hot flashes can easily interrupt normal, everyday life. Sometimes hot flashes can even last many years after menopause begins.
A Penn Medicine Study found that moderate to severe hot flashes continue, on average, “for nearly five years after menopause, and more than a third of women experience moderate/severe hot flashes for 10 years or more after menopause.”
Hot flashes are periods of intense, sudden feelings of warmth. The skin may redden, and symptoms are usually most intense over the face, neck and chest. The cause of the hot flash is not known, but several factors can contribute.
Strongest Factors Contributing to Hot Flash Symptoms:
- Changes in reproductive hormones
- Changes in your body’s thermostat (hypothalamus)
How to Improve Hot Flash Symptoms Naturally
#1: Lose the Weight
Not only are hot flashes a part of menopause, hot flashes and sweating are more intensely experienced in overweight women. The Penn study also found that obese white women, and African American women (both obese and non-obese) had the greatest risk of moderate to severe hot flashes. It has been researched in other studies, that shedding the extra pounds may be a great way to safely and naturally decrease prevalence of hot flashes.
A study performed in 2010, and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, states that women who are overweight and suffering from hot flashes may be able to reduce their discomfort through diet and exercise. Among the participants who, at the beginning of the study, reported being “at least slightly bothered by hot flashes” saw improvement of their symptoms with the reduction of weight, abdominal circumference, and BMI.
A healthy diet can also help to control hot flashes. Whole foods, rich in nutrients, can balance out the body. Foods such as flaxseed, beans, and whole grains contain naturally occurring phytoestrogens which may also provide some relief by acting as a weak form of estrogen in your body. By eating these foods before menopause hits, it can drastically reduce the effects once menopause begins! Avoiding or limiting foods that contain high levels of sugars, caffeine, and alcohol can also help to reduce symptoms. All of these foods are known to exacerbate or trigger hot flash symptoms.
#2: Control the Changing Hormones
Hot flash causes are still quite a mystery, however it’s well known that changes in hormones can contribute to their occurrence. Knowing this, how do women naturally and safely control their hormone levels without hormone therapies?
One way to help balance hormone levels is to reduce stress. Emotional stress can cause additional symptoms of menopause such as insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can help you relax and regroup. By reducing stress, it can help get you back on track to better sleep and coping with menopause symptoms in a healthier way.
Another great way to help with hormonal changes is to increase your levels of regular exercise. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to increased menopausal symptoms. Exercise helps to promote weight loss, reduce stress, and heighten endorphins to make you feel happy. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health recommends at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate aerobic physical activity, 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or some combination of the two. Yoga in particular can help with stress level reduction and to decrease sleep disturbances.
Herbal remedies and multivitamins have also been known to effectively treat hot flashes and control hormonal imbalances. Black Cohosh is an herb known to be as effective as estrogen. This may be a safe alternative to synthetic hormones and provide the same effects for helping reduce anxiety, mood swings and depression. Sage leaf extract is another natural herb which is known to reduce night sweats attributed to menopause. My patients have also seen great success with the use of an ultra high-grade daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to support overall health. I suggest using Foundation Vitamin Formula from Diamond Nutritionals, coupled with Menopause Support Formula. These products work very well together to relieve menopausal symptoms, and I have recommended them to my patients for many years .
Menopause Support Formula Contains the Following Natural Ingredients:
First extracted from rice bran oil in the 1950’s, Gamma Oryzanol has been used by the Japanese for menopausal symptoms for over 50 years.
Has been used historically as a female tonic. The effects of black cohosh root preparations appear to come from components such as isoflavones and cimicifugoside. It is perhaps best known and used for common complaints associated with menopause.
Licorice root contains a compound called glycyrrizin which is 50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). Glycyrrizin has a similar structure to adrenal steroids and has been used in adrenal insufficiency, fatigue, various skin problems, as well as female hormonal regulation.
Considered by many as the woman’s herb, Dong quai (Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels.) is native to China where some consider it THE female tonic. The dried roots have coumarins, flavonoids, and essential oils as active constituents.
Studies have shown that trans-Resveratrol promotes an increase in mitochondrial function, which translates into an increase in energy expenditure, improved aerobic capacity, and enhanced sensorimotor function.
#3: Lifestyle Changes
Keeping cool by opening windows or using an air conditioner can help to decrease hot flash symptoms. Also, dress in layers so you can easily remove clothing if you feel a hot flash coming on. Slight increases in your body’s core temperature can trigger hot flashes, so try your best to regulate the temperature of the room and keep your core temperature level.
Smoking is also linked to more intense symptoms associated with hot flashes. By not smoking, you’ll increase blood flow and circulation, and decrease your risk of stroke and heart disease. Smoking is a major health concern! By eliminating it from your lifestyle, you can reduce hot flashes and decrease the associated serious risks.
Do I Need Natural Hormones?
Changes listed above can help to control menopausal symptoms without doing anything else. Sometimes, if these natural remedies are not working as effectively as you would like, you may start to research other methods. Natural hormones, also known as bioidentical hormones, are derived from plants and can safely help with regulation. Consult an integrative medicine physician to discuss the proper bioidentical hormones that are best for you.
Make sure to discuss the best way to administer the hormones. I’ve found that typically the best route of delivery is a transdermal cream, often applied on the arms. Creams are sometimes prescribed for vaginal application, especially if vaginal dryness is a symptom. Have your integrative physician check your hormone levels. They can provide guidance in choosing the right natural hormone for you.
Overall, menopause is a time of change for any woman, but with these simple tips, it doesn’t have to be a time of discomfort and declining health. Exercise, diet, and remedies such as natural hormones and vitamin supplements can help reduce hot flash symptoms and keep you cool!