My mother—God bless her—went through menopause when my brother and I were in our teenaged “I’m not listening to anything” years. To this day, it amazes me that we made it out alive!
Menopause is a fact of life for women, and each experiences the symptoms—hot flashes, low energy, emotional fluctuations, sadness, poor sleep—a little differently. While some women elect to use hormonal treatments, as many as 80% choose to tame hot flashes with alternative methods.
It can be a trying time for women and what makes it even more difficult is that no one is really sure about what works. In fact, a new survey I came across the other day suggests that half of all menopausal women who experience hot flashes are uncertain and confused about their options, while a whopping 75% feel under-informed about alternative options like herbal products.
There really isn’t much data to support the theories that exercise, diet, herbal supplements, or other forms of supplementation have any impact. In fact, many of the touted natural remedies—including acupuncture—were found to have inefficient, inconclusive, or flat-out negative effects. But women are searching for alternatives to hormonal therapy and that path can be extremely frustrating as women and healthcare professionals continue to look for effective, natural ways to fight hot flashes.
I can certainly understand these frustrations and after reading the survey, I thought this was a topic I really should look at further for my readers. Here’s what I found that may help you or your loved one cope with and treat hot flashes…
Top Natural Ways to Treat Hot Flashes
There are two behavioral approaches the North American Menopause Society found to significantly help tame hot flashes.
The first is a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach focusing on relaxation techniques, sleep hygiene, and taking positive approaches to menopause. This approach was found to be significantly effective. Let’s break this down a little bit to help you or your loved one implement this approach.
Finding ways to relax can be tough, but they also set the stage for improving sleep and embracing trying times in a more positive mindset—meaning that if you can relax, the other two prongs to this approach will come much easier. Some of the best ways to relax, in my opinion, are spending some time alone reading a book (one with a lighter topic that makes you laugh is best), going for a walk in a quiet area, or having some tea or a glass of wine with friends. If alone time helps you relax, a cool lavender bath when hot flashes hit may do the trick to help calm your body. Doing these things regularly can clear your head, so it’s easier to fall asleep.
Next up is sleep hygiene, which refers to sticking to a schedule, making sure you get a good seven to eight hours of shuteye every night. The best way to do this is to come up with a bedtime ritual that encourages good sleep, like a cool bath or reading a book an hour before your bedtime. And yes, it may sound childish, but you need to set a bedtime for yourself to help your body better fall asleep and stay asleep. If you find hot flashes are waking you up, ensure your bedroom is cool (either by opening the window, or turning on a fan or air conditioner) to help provide some relief.
The second approach the North American Menopause Society found to be effective in helping tame hot flashes in controlled trials is hypnosis.
Research indicates the alternative therapy of hypnosis—entering a state of consciousness when you lose voluntary action and have a high focus on direction from someone else—can work better than hormonal and other non-hormonal therapies. For example, a study by Baylor University and funded by the National Institutes of Heath found that hypnosis can reduce hot flashes by as much as 75%!
Save your money by focusing your natural treatment for hot flashes on relaxation techniques, improved sleep patterns, a positive attitude, and finding a registered hypnotist if needed. Although you might experience some health benefits with other natural treatments you’ve heard about, there’s a far better chance they will be ineffective for menopause over the long term.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Taming hot flashes without hormones: What works, what doesn’t,” Science Daily web site, September 23, 2015; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150923082603.htm.
“Hypnosis: A Possible Treatment for Hot Flashes in Men and Women?” CTV News web site, July 13, 2014; http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/hypnosis-a-possible-treatment-for-hot-flashes-in-women-and-men-1.1911770, last accessed October 1, 2015.