Experiencing hot flashes is one of the most common and frustrating symptoms of going through the menopause. Whilst they may seem relatively harmless to those who haven’t experienced them, they have the potential to cause a lot of discomfort, especially as they can hit some women up to 30 times a day. Even worse is the fact that they can very often stop women from sleeping, something which is bound to make just about anyone feel worse. This can be even more problematic when you take into account new research that suggests some women experience hot flashes for over seven years. It’s worth noting as well that menopause isn’t the only cause of hot flashes – they can come from anything that affects your hormones, such as breast cancer.
What are Hot Flashes and How Do I Deal with Them?
Despite much research into hot flashes, it’s still not fully understood exactly why they happen. It is thought that they occur due to changes in the body’s thermoregulatory system – the system that controls and maintains the body’s core temperature. There are various reasons this could be out of whack, but during the menopause it is thought to be the changing levels of estrogen that are the culprit. Once estrogen levels balance out, hot flashes generally should subside, despite lower levels of estrogen in general.
One way of dealing with hot flashes and other menopause symptoms is through hormone therapy. However, there can be multiple reasons that this might not be wanted or suitable for everyone due to some potentially serious downsides. For instance, for those who have had hormone-related cancer, or have someone in their family who has, using hormone therapy might do more harm than good, as research indicates it can potentially increase the risk of cancer. There are also those who simply do not like the idea of messing with their hormones due to other potential side effects.
With that in mind we’ve come up with some all natural solutions that can help you take care of the problem of hot flashes.
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Herbal remedies have been around for a long time and for good reason! There are various different herbs that are thought to be helpful in decreasing both the amount and the intensity of hot flashes.
Studies have shown that black cohosh has been effective in decreasing the severity of hot flashes and night sweats. However, it is important to remember, as with all remedies, it can have interactions with other herbs and medicines, so make sure to check for interactions before taking it. Whilst it was initially thought that black cohosh had an estrogenic effect, it is now unclear exactly how it works to relieve menopause symptoms.
Studies have also suggested that Vitex Angus Castus is a helpful agent for menopausal balance. It is thought to work by interacting with the pituitary gland – the gland that controls the release of sex hormones. It has been suggested that it regulates pituitary gland activity and as such helps to balance estrogen and progesterone.
Whilst there haven’t been any studies specifically linking CBD with reduction of hot flashes, it is thought that its interaction with the endocannabinoid system is helpful in bringing about balance within the body.
CBD can aid with the sleeplessness that affects many women who experience hot flashes. CBD’s stress-relieving nature through its ability to release mood boosting endorphins can allow the body to relax enough to ensure a good night's sleep. As well as this, the nutritional value that can be found in CBD oil, which studies have shown to be a powerful antioxidant, can help keep your body fit and fighting whilst it’s going through this massive period of change.
3. Balance Blood Sugar
Not only are hot flashes a symptom of the menopause but so is increased sensitivity to blood sugar, which actually in turn can lead to having hot flashes. As your body is already going through so many different changes, this makes it even more important to try and take charge of the ones you can have some control over. Studies have indicated that keeping a balanced blood sugar level can indeed help reduce the frequency of hot flashes.
Balancing blood sugar levels doesn’t have to be a difficult task. In fact, just regulating what you eat is the simplest way to do it. Focus on avoiding simple and refined carbohydrates, as well as anything with added sugar (obviously!) as these will spike blood sugar levels. Instead try and include a good source of fat, a healthy dose of protein and something high in fibre in every meal. By doing this, you will find that you stay fuller for longer and are less likely to reach for sugary snacks, as well as making sure your blood sugar stays stable throughout the day. And whilst we’re on the topic, it’s always good to include as many vegetables as possible in your diet, as all the healthful vitamins will help keep you in tip top shape.
4. Do Gentle Exercise
Exercise is a great way to release endorphins and adrenaline, which will naturally make you feel better whatever state you are in. In fact, a study has shown that women who lead a more active lifestyle report having less severe menopause symptoms, including hot flashes.
Not only this, but if you consider practicing yoga as your form of exercise, think about incorporating breathwork. Doing two lots of 15 minute breathwork sessions a day has actually been shown to cut the amount and intensity of hot flashes some women experience. This is thought to be due to its relaxing effect on the body and its reduction in sympathetic nervous system activity.
5. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
People are generally advised to cut these out for health, but doing so during menopause can have extra benefits. Anything that stimulates your sympathetic nervous system can also cause hot flashes when your hormones are in flux. Studies have shown that both increased caffeine and alcohol consumption can cause an increase in hot flashes or potentially make the experience of menopause side effects last for longer. If you are a hot drink addict, try replacing coffee with an herbal tea and you might be surprised by how much better (and even more energetic!) you end up feeling.
6. Stay Cool
This might sound obvious but keeping your body cool will help to decrease the intensity of your hot flashes. Try and make sure you keep your core body temperature cool, for example by wearing loose clothing. Nowadays, it is also easy to find handy and portable tools you can keep on you for occasions when you’re out and about. Some helpful things we’ve found are a mini fan you can plug into your phone or little cans of water you can spray on yourself for an instant hit of cooling hydration.
Considering that hot flashes are a condition that a majority of women suffer during the menopause, it’s important to find the best method to help you not lose your cool. Using the tricks above can help make life more bearable during those moments in a way that is completely natural.