Hot flashes are a common complaint among women experience menopause. Hot flashes are characterised by sudden, intense, hot feelings on the face and upper body and sometimes preceded or accompanied by a rapid heartbeat, sweating, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, headache, weakness or a feeling of asphyxiation. The hot flash is followed by a flush, leaving skin reddened and covered with perspiration either completely, or at the top of the upper lip. A chill can often be the finale of the episode.
It is the major hormonal changes constituting menopause that contributes to the occurrence of hot flashes. However, lifestyle choices and medication can also affect the occurrences of menopause. As time goes on, and women go further into their menopause the intensity of hot flashes will decrease.
Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes
The best way to remedy hot flashes is through holistic approach. Studies show that medication is not always helpful, so before considering oestrogen therapy, consider less drastic, natural remedies first. This route is preferred, partly because oestrogen therapy is not known to be safe for women with a history of breast cancer, and also because you should always begin with the least aggressive approach to treating menopausal symptoms.
- Changing Lifestyle; an increase in physical activity can reduce hot flashes and positively affect most symptomatic features of menopause, including: insomnia, mood swings, eroded self image, loss of libido, fatigue, elevated cholesterol levels, heart, bone, and muscle health. Exercise also increases endorphin levels, and thus increases the pain threshold.
- Stress Reduction; combating stress is an issue at every stage of life. However, reducing stress around the time of menopause will significantly reduce the intensity of symptoms associated with it. To minimise stress, practise a few of the following: relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, meditation, massage, hypnosis and yoga.
- Herbology; this is the act of cooking a variety of herbs together to make teas customised to your particular symptoms. Plant oestrogen that is effective in treating hot flashes have been found in: ginseng, evening primrose oil, liquorice root, red raspberry leaves, sarsaparilla, spearmint, damiana, motherwort, chasteberry, black cohosh, and wild yams. Use caution when using plant oestrogen; always inform your doctor that you’ll be trying them, and never attempt to self medicate.
- Changing Your Diet; diets low in fat and cholesterol help some women with hot flashes. Though losing weight will help, losing too much weight and becoming too thin will worsen symptoms. In this instance, when making changes in diet, remember that natural is not equivalent with harmless. Herbal remedies and soy products may work because of their high plant oestrogen content, but do not assume that it is a wholly safe remedy.
- Medication; if you’ve started out with the less drastic measures, and still no relief is felt, you may have to try stronger remedies that are only available through a medical doctor. Routes your MD might take in treating your symptoms include: use of antidepressants, mild sedatives, progesterone-like products and oestrogen therapy.