Reviewed by Dr. Richard Foxx, MD— Menopause is a fact of life for menstruating women. Unfortunately, it also means there’s a very high probability that these women will experience hot flashes. The question often arises, are there any reliable hot flash remedies? But first, we take a look at how menopause can affect the female body.
Menopause & Hot Flashes
Roughly two-thirds of women report experiencing hot flashes as they navigate their way through perimenopause: the time before menopause actually occurs.
During perimenopause, estrogen levels begin to drop as the body prepares for menopause, generally starting in the 40s and ending at menopause when ovaries are no longer releasing eggs. Menopause is confirmed after one year of no periods.
Symptoms like hot flashes can last for up to five years following the onset of menopause, leaving some to deal with this uncomfortable reality for more than a decade.
Why does it happen? While the mechanisms behind hot flashes (also called vasomotor symptoms) are not entirely understood, it likely has something to do with reduced estrogen levels. It’s possible that lower circulating estrogen damages the nerve centers that regulate internal temperature.
Hot flashes are feelings of intense heat that arise from within the body. They can appear suddenly with varying intensities and duration. Symptoms typically last for about four minutes, but can last for longer than 10.
9 All-Natural Hot Flash Remedies
Because menopause is inevitable and hot flashes are an extremely common symptom, you cannot completely eliminate their risk. Still, there are lifestyle measures that can help you reduce the frequency and severity of your symptoms.
There are also various things you can do to help silence hot flashes when they hit. Let’s examine nine hot flash remedies in detail.
1. Lifestyle Changes
Multiple studies have found that physical activity has the potential to significantly reduce the severity of menopause symptoms, including hot flashes.
Comparative work has found that the most active women have much less severe symptoms, while those who get little activity, or are sedentary, experience severe menopause symptoms.
One study found that 60 minutes of habitual exercise per day is associated with substantial improvements in symptoms.
Other work has found that sitting less, losing weight, improving fitness levels, and decreasing waist-to-hip ratio are all useful ways to ease menopause symptoms.
You may have noticed that your hot flashes occur under certain conditions. Limiting your exposure to triggers may help limit the severity and frequency of your symptoms.
Common triggers include:
- Warm temperatures
- Spicy food
2. Dietary Changes
There is some evidence to suggest that certain nutrients may help limit the severity and frequency of hot flashes. Some particular foods that might reduce hot flashes include:
- Foods with phytoestrogens: Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. They may limit hot flashes and other symptoms. Examples of phytoestrogen foods include soybeans, chickpeas, peanuts, flaxseeds, barley, grapes, berries, and plums.
- Fruits and vegetables: Berries, cruciferous vegetables, and other fibrous produce are associated with improved menopause symptoms. The benefits range from reduced hot flashes and lower blood pressure to better sleep.
- Healthy fats: There is evidence to suggest that healthy fats may ease hot flashes and night sweats. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon and other fatty fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds. Omega-3s are also associated with heart health.
A hot-flash-friendly diet can also be an effective tool for weight loss, which may also play a role in menopause symptoms.
3. Black Cohosh
This herbal supplement might be the most well-studied alternative treatment for menopause. It is made from the roots and underground stems of North American cohosh plants (Actaea racemosa), and several studies have found it can be effective in easing hot flashes.
On the other hand, there is also work suggesting it has no benefits for menopausal women.
Black cohosh is safe for use in most people, but those with liver problems should consult their physician.
Experts have not agreed on a standard recommended dose, so users should follow the instructions on the label. Be sure to purchase from a reputable manufacturer, as herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA.
4. Red Clover
Red clover (Trifolium pretense) is a source of natural plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest it can help with menopause symptoms. Currently, however, there is no clear scientific evidence to support the herb’s use.
Because many women report feeling better after taking it, red clover may offer some benefit to you.
Extracts, made from the flowering tops of the legume plant, can be purchased in tablet or capsule form. Red clover is also available as a tea.
Ask your doctor about dosing and whether it is the right remedy for your symptoms.
5. Dong Quai
Traditional Chinese medicine has long featured dong quai (Angelica sinensis) to treat gynecological conditions. But that doesn’t necessarily confirm its effectiveness.
Research has not shown any benefits for reducing hot flashes; however, the findings may relate to the methods of preparation in studies.
There is some risk to supplementing with dong quai, particularly for women with fibroids or hemophilia. Upon your doctor’s approval, seek a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner for guidance on dosages and frequency.
6. Stress Relief
Hot flashes can be another way that stress manifests itself. Stress can boost your body temperature, so keeping it under control may reduce the severity and duration of your hot flashes.
Useful activities for managing stress that can potentially ease menopause symptoms include:
- Tai chi
- Guided thought
- Breathing exercises
7. Licorice Root
One study found that taking licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) for eight weeks reduced the severity and frequency of hot flashes. This perennial herb features phytoestrogens, which may explain the study’s result.
The dosage protocol used was 330 milligrams (mg) taken three times per day for eight weeks.
8. Valerian Root
Another herb containing phytoestrogens is valerian root (Valeriana officinalis). Multiple studies support its use in managing menopause symptoms, particularly hot flashes.
Taking 255 mg of valerian three times per day for eight weeks may reduce hot flash frequency and intensity.
9. Preparing Ahead
Sometimes it takes just a moment to extinguish a hot flash when it arises. A few methods to help subdue it quickly include:
- Dressing in layers
- Sipping ice water when a hot flash starts
- Keeping a cold pack beside your bed for nighttime attacks
Consider Natural Methods to Manage Your Hot Flashes
Menopause is unavoidable, so it’s important to be ready to handle its symptoms, including the dreaded hot flashes. You can start preparing now in hopes to minimize your symptoms if and when they hit.
Boosting your activity levels, adopting a nutrient-dense diet, and achieving a healthy weight can all help. When needed, some herbal treatments may also help relieve uncomfortable hot flashes as well.
Keep in mind that many herbal treatments are unproven, however, and they may come with some unique health risks. Talk to your doctor before attempting to treat any menopause symptoms with these products.
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