The dreaded ‘hot flush’ or ‘hot flash’ is one of the most common symptoms of menopause, with half of all perimenopausal women and more than three-quarters of postmenopausal women experiencing them.
The good news is, while you might feel helpless when a hot flush begins, there is actually quite a lot you can do to reduce the severity of your symptoms and even prevent hot flushes altogether.
What causes a hot flush?
Hot flushes are brought on by reduced abouts of the hormone oestrogen, which confuse the brain’s hypothalamus and cause it to believe the body is overheating. This starts an internal chain of reactions that you experience as “hot flushes”.
The symptoms vary from woman to woman, but common symptoms include:
- Sudden feelings of heat in the face, neck, arms and sometimes the whole body
- Rapid pulse
- Cold chills – these often follow hot flushes
- Sleep disturbance from night sweats (when oestrogen is often at lowest)
Generally, they begin one or two years before your last period, and can last between 6 months to 15 years.
However, more and more, I am seeing younger women come to me experiencing hot flushes. There are several theories for this – it may be due to the unhealthy nature of our Western diet, or it might be due to the fact that we are all so busy and stressed that our hormone balance is off.
Whatever the cause may be, hot flushes can range from annoying to debilitating, interfering in day-to-day life and messing with restorative sleep patterns, not to mention being totally embarrassing!
Natural remedies for hot flushes…
I’d like to share with you some of my favourite supplements, herbs and lifestyle tips to help relieve hot flushes and night sweats:
When you experience one of the “wrong time and place” hot flushes, stress is usually the driving force. Magnesium diglycinate is definitely my first port of call for stress and anxiety relief, as it feeds the nervous system and helps to reduce hot flush onset. Magnesium is also essential for detoxifying estrogen and helping with energy production. Another great supplement for stress is B Complex vitamins, as they support the nervous system and promote energy production.
During a hot flush, herbal nervines and adrenal support remedies are a great way to balance the fight/flight stress response. Herbs I love include Ziziphus (specific hot flush treatment), Withania (reduces stress and anxiety), Sage (for excessive sweating), and Wild Yam (to balance our female hormones).
It’s easy to forget that your diet can have a huge impact on the health of your body and can help reduce the severity of hot flushes.
– Stick to non-processed whole foods, fruits and vegetables to reduce inflammation
– Include Omega 3-rich foods like oily fish, hemp seeds and flaxseed
– Include calcium-rich foods for bone health, like fish with bones, broccoli and legumes
– Include Iron-rich foods like lean meat, fish,eggs, leafy green veg, nuts and grains
– Plant-based foods that are high in isoflavones or phytoestrogen like fermented soy can help to relieve symptoms caused by declining oestrogen.
– Avoid trigger foods like spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol and sugar
It’s essential to make time to move your body and give it the attention that it needs. This can reduce your stress and overall severity of symptoms:
– Daily movement like walking, yoga, Thai Chi or Pilates helps the movement of the lymphatic system to assist with detoxification and release our “feel good hormones”
– Epsom salt baths in warm bath is beneficial before bed for insomnia and muscle tension
– Vaporising calming essential oils can create mood changing effects that can help with insomnia and keep you feeling relaxed
If you are having difficulty with hot flushes and would like some free advice from our qualified Naturopaths, drop in to the Herb Bar anytime Monday through Friday from 8am – 1pm or Saturday 9am – 1pm. No appointment necessary and a qualified Naturopath will be on hand ready to assist you with free advice, practitioner grade natural supplements and herbal medicines. The Herb Bar is located at Mullen Natural Health Centre, 16 Murray Street Hamilton NSW 2303.