- Category: Hot Flashes
Home Medications and Treatments for Hot flashes
Hot flashes are a very common symptom. Almost 80 percent of menopausal women experience hot flashes, sudden episodes of warmth that begin on the chest, neck, or face and spread throughout the body.
Hot flashes are caused by the dilation of peripheral blood vessels, which raises skin temperature by several degrees. The skin becomes red and warm for a few seconds to a couple of minutes and is usually accompanied by sweating, which for some women can be profuse. As the flush of heat subsides, cold chills often follow as perspiration evaporates and cools the body. The intensity and frequency of hot flashes varies greatly,and while most women experience approximately one hot flash daily, some are troubled by numerous flashes throughout the day and night. I have friends who refer to their hot flashes as "power surges." This is a great example of choosing to see the physiological changes of menopause in a positive light! But even with a positive attitude, these fluctuations in body temperature can be extremely uncomfortable. Other symptoms that often accompany hot flashes include increased heart rate, heart palpitations, breathlessness, headache, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, weakness, numbness of hands and arms, and itchy skin. Hot flashes that occur during the night disturb normal sleep patterns and can cause insomnia, fatigue, and irritability.
Although the exact reason for hot flashes is not known for certain, they appear to be caused by the natural decrease in estrogen and progesterone that occurs during menopause. The drop in hormones affects the pituitary and hypothalamus, the glands that regulate temperature. Hot flashes are often the first sign of menopause and appear to reflect the body's efforts to adjust to a different balance of hormones. They tend to begin while a woman is still having menstrual periods, and usually occur during the menstrual flow. Hot flashes typically cause the most discomfort during the first year or two of menopause and tend to subside as the body adapts to lower levels of estrogen. However, some women still experience hot flashes almost a decade after completing menopause.
Eating to Relieve Hot Flashes
Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens, especially soy foods, has been shown to decrease the intensity of hot flashes by helping to balance estrogen levels. Try to eat one or two servings of soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, and soy milk each day. Dietary supplements that help to relieve hot flashes include vitamin E and bioflavonoids. In clinical studies, vitamin E has been shown to reduce the incidence of hot flashes. Take 400 to 800 I.U.S of natural vitamin E in the form of d-alpha tocopherol daily. If you suffer from hypertension or diabetes, check with your doctor before taking large amounts of vitamin E. Bioflavonoids are found abundantly in citrus fruits, especially in the white inner rind and pulp. Bioflavonoids have phytoestrogenic activity and have been shown to markedly reduce the incidence of hot flashes. Eat one or two servings of fresh citrus fruits daily, including as much of the white inner peel as possible. In addition, take supplemental bioflavonoids combined with vitamin C, which helps to strengthen adrenal function. Take 1,000 units of vitamin C combined with bioflavonoids three times a day.
Hot Flash Relief Tea
2 tablespoons garden sage
1 tablespoon motherwort
2 teaspoons anise seeds
2 cups water
Pour boiling water over herbs, cover, and let steep until cool. Strain, and drink one cup of cool tea before bed.
The aromatic oil that gives garden sage (Salvia officinalis) its characteristic scent and flavor has strong astringent properties that reduce perspiration by up to 50 percent. Motherwort is a wonderful herbal ally for menopausal women; it has relaxing properties and helps to calm the heart palpitations that often accompany middle of-the-night hot flashes. Anise seeds are a source of phytoestrogens and add a pleasant sweetness to the tea that helps to soften the bitterness of the motherwort. Insomnia often accompanies hot flashes that occur at night. If you are troubled by sleeplessness, add to the formula one tablespoon of passionflower, a pleasant-tasting herb that has gentle relaxing properties.
Cooling Aromatherapy Facial Mist
1/4 cup aloe vera juice
1/4 cup rosewater
5 drops rose or lavender essential oil
Combine ingredients in a glass spray bottle and shake well. Mist skin as often as desired.
General guide for Hot Flashes
Simple measures can help to alleviate hot flashes. Avoid overheating your home or workplace, and dress in layers that make it easy to add or remove clothing as needed. Natural fibers such as silk and linen help to maintain a comfortable body temperature by allowing perspiration to evaporate quickly. Keep a small paper or bamboo fan handy for quick cooling during a hot flash. Natural-fiber bedding will help to keep you comfortable during the night. Use pure cotton or linen sheets, and instead of one heavy blanket or comforter, sleep with thin layers of cotton or wool blankets and a lightweight down comforter that can be added or removed as needed.
Emotional stress is often a trigger for hot flashes. Practices such as deep rhythmical breathing and meditation create a calm internal environment that keeps your body and emotions in balance. You can also relieve emotional and physical tension with regular exercise such as a daily half-hour brisk walk. Avoid walking in the hot sun, though, because excessive heat can bring on a hot flash. During hot weather, walk in the early morning or evening. Other types of exercise that have a calming and cooling effect are swimming, tai chi, and yoga. The long, slow stretches of yoga and the gentle, flowing movements of tai chi are excellent for creating a deep sense of peace and relaxation and are wonderful practices for bringing the body and mind into harmony.
Avoid the following food items in your diet. Most women found these foods make hot flashes worse.
* Caffeine containing soft drinks
* Spicy foods
A low-fat, high-fiber diet will help the body to adjust more easily to changing hormonal levels.
Tofu and tempeh
Seeds and nuts (especially sunflower seeds)
According to Chinese medicine, the following foods will build the yin:
Wheat germ and wheat germ oil
Mung beans and sprouts
Black sesame seeds
Royal jelly tonifies the female hormonal system. A normal dose is just 100-400 milligrams daily.
Foods that contain phytoestrogens help prevent hot flashes and other symptoms of estrogen depletion:
Tofu and other soy products
Foods rich in calcium help prevent osteoporosis:
Dark, leafy greens, such as kale, collards, and broccoli
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