Hot flushes make up one of the most common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause in women. While menopause refers to the cessation of menstrual periods, perimenopause refers to the period when the ovaries start to produce less of the female hormones. The latter usually starts when a woman is in her 40s, but depending on very many factors, may begin in one’s 30s. Perimenopause is also referred to as menopause transition, and will usually last to the point of menopause when the ovaries do not release any more eggs. In both cases, hot flushes are common symptoms.
Hot flushes, by definition, are sudden intense waves of heat that sweep across the face and upper body. This is often accompanied by a myriad of symptoms that include nausea, dizziness, anxiety, headache and body weakness. Some women will also complain of feeling suffocated, while for some, hot flushes happen alongside a rapid heartbeat.
The precise cause of hot flushes is unknown, but it is thought to be the result of the sudden decrease in oestrogen levels in the body. A number of factors may worsen the intensity of the hot flushes, and these include, but are not limited to leading a sedentary lifestyle, minimal physical activity, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, high stress levels as well as consumption of very hot spicy foods. The good news is that there are several home remedies that one may use to ease hot flushes and help manage the discomfort.
NOTE: It is important to note that the frequency of hot flushes varies from one woman to another, and as such, this will affect the efficiency and duration of use of the remedies below.
1. Soy Foods:
Time Required: Varies depending on the method of preparation.
What You Need: Your preferred soy foods.
Soy foods are one of the best categories of home remedies for women suffering from hot flushes. This is because they not only help to balance the hormonal levels in the body, they are also known to have estrogenic properties which come in handy. The phytoestrogens present in soy foods are known to attach themselves to oestrogen receptors in the body, and this allows the body to respond as though oestrogen concentration is still adequate.
The most potent of these phytoestrogens are the glycitein, daidzein and genistein isoflavones. Daidzein is believed to have the most powerful effect of the all. Once the soy food is consumed, daidzein is converted to an oestrogen-like compound known as S-equol. It is this compound that acts like oestrogen and therefore allows for less pronounced side effects in menopausal women. Soy foods therefore, are a great remedy to use in the management of hot flushes.
Tips on using Soy Foods:
Below are some of the ways in which you can incorporate soy foods into your daily diet.
- Use soy milk to prepare your coffee instead of cow’s milk, and then top this up with soy cream for a delicious remedy. You may also take the soy milk on its own.
- Let go of the minced beef and instead use textured soy protein for a flavorful way to deal with hot flushes.
- Opt for tofu to use as dessert instead of the usual pastries and/or ice cream.
- Other soy foods that you can include in your diet include miso and edamame.
Time Required: 5 Min
What You Need: 1/2 Cup of flaxseeds added to daily food.
Just like soy foods, flaxseeds are rich in phytoestrogens, and especially in the category of lignans. This is why the seeds are an excellent addition to remedies required for the management of hot flushes. Not only for the seeds reduce the frequency and intensity of the flushes due to their oestrogen-like properties, the seeds are also an excellent way to lose weight and maintain low cholesterol levels. Excessive weight, coupled with high cholesterol levels, is known to increase the frequency and severity of hot flushes. Since the seeds are rich in insoluble fibre, they help reduce excessive eating while managing a healthy weight.
It is important to note that, when using flaxseeds for this therapeutic purpose, a dosage of about 40 grams provides 16 grams of fat. As such, the seeds should not be added to unhealthy fats, and instead should be included in healthy fats. To improve absorption and get the most of these seeds, it is important to crush them before adding them to your diet. One of the simplest ways to do this is to use a coffee grinder.
- Place the flaxseeds in a coffee grinder and crush to get a coarse powder.
- Add this powder to your preferred food, whether it is oats for breakfast, yogurt for a midday snack or soup before your meals.
- Remember to use flaxseeds daily.
NOTE: You may crush the seeds in bulk and store in a refrigerator for up to a week to ease food preparation.
3. Vitamin E:
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: Vitamin E supplements.
Vitamin E is probably best known for its antioxidant properties, but did you know that you can also pop this pill to help manage hot flushes and its accompanying symptoms? The structural makeup of Vitamin E is such that it contains oestrogen which reduces the frequency of hot flushes, and thus helps eliminate the rate of sweating. In addition to this, Vitamin E is also able to replenish electrolytes lost through sweating, a factor which eases the discomfort. Soft gel vitamin e capsules may be used for this remedy. It is also helpful to include rich sources of Vitamin E in one’s diet. Noteworthy is the fact that it may take up to six weeks before there are any notable differences, and so consistency is key when using this remedy to alleviate hot flushes in menopausal women.
- Follow the recommended dosage of Vitamin E supplements, usually 400 mg daily, but do this after consulting your doctor especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and are prone to soft tissue injury. Do not use more than the recommended dose of Vitamin E to prevent potentially adverse side effects.
- It is important to include food sources that are rich in Vitamin E. These include green leafy vegetables, almonds, tropical fruits as well as nuts.
4. Black Cohosh:
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: Standardized herbal remedy containing black cohosh or opt for 1 ml of black cohosh in tincture.
One of the most popular herbal remedies for the natural management of hot flushes is black cohosh. A member of the buttercup family, this is one of the remedies for which extensive research has been carried out to establish its efficacy in treating hot flushes. Just like other remedies mentioned above, black cohosh has active ingredients that mimic the action of oestrogen while reducing the amount of luteinizing hormone in the body. The latter is produced by the pituitary gland, and is known to increase the frequency and severity of hot flushes. One may either use the herb in pill or in tincture form.
- If using the pill, lookout for a standardized herbal remedy that contains black cohosh.
- The other alternative is to take 1 ml of black cohosh in tincture form to reduce the discomfort associated with hot flushes as well as minimize their occurrence altogether.
NOTE: It is advisable to let your doctor known that you have started taking this herbal remedy.
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 2 Teaspoons of fresh sage leaves, 1 cup of boiling water, a strainer, the juice of half a lemon and honey to taste.
Sage is yet another age-old remedy that has been used to treat hot flushes. The effects of the herb are not just limited to reducing the severity of the flushes, they are also known to reduce sweating. In addition to this, sage is also rich in flavanoids, tannins and volatile oils all of which help contribute to better health and allow menopausal women to cope better with the body changes that accompany hot flushes. Brew your own cup of sage tea as indicated below to get the benefits of this home remedy.
- Place 2 teaspoons of sage leaves (use half the amount if you opt for dried sage leaves) in a cup of water.
- Add the boiling hot water to the leaves and allow them to steep for a few minutes.
- Strain the leaves after 5 minutes and set aside the tea.
- Add the juice of half a lemon to get a refreshingly rejuvenating drink.
- You may add honey which is a natural sweetener.
- Other optional additions include stevia and agave nectar.
- You may also drink sage tea iced, because this is a simple way of cooling down and reducing the uncomfortable sweaty feeling.
6. Regular Physical Exercise:
Time Required: Varies depending on the specific exercises.
What You Need: Appropriate gear for your preferred workout routines.
From the information above, leading a sedentary lifestyle with lack of physical activity is one of the factors that worsen hot flushes. Physical exercise cools the hot flushes and is known to improve one’s overall moods. Research shows that for many menopausal women, indulging in workouts cuts the frequency of hot flushes by as much as 50%. What’s more, working out reduces the chances of getting the other accompanying symptoms, resulting in an improved physical and mental state. For women struggling with excessive weight, exercise helps shed a few pounds, which also has an incredible effect on the hot flushes.
- For this, you will need appropriate gear that is largely dependent on your routine. At the core of it, aim for at least half an hour of aerobic exercises daily to get the most benefits.
- Some of the exercises in this category include swimming, dancing, brisk walking as well as cycling.
Additional Tip: If you have not exercised in a long time, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to start small and then gradually build on the routines activity.
7. Red Clover:
Time Required: 40 Min
What You Need: 2 Teaspoons of red clover (preferably dried), 1 cup of boiling water and a strainer.
Red clover is one of the home remedies that may be used to treat hot flushes. It is also effective for the management of night sweats associated with menopause in women. The herb is rich in isoflavones whose oestrogen-like properties provide much-needed relief from the hot flushes. As is the case with a number of herbal remedies, caution must be exercised. It is advisable to let your doctor know you are taking this herb to avoid adverse drug-drug interactions.
- Place the dried red clover herb in a cup and pour in the boiling water.
- Cover the mixture and allow steeping for half an hour.
- Strain the mixture and drink this tea thrice daily to help manage hot flushes.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar:
Time Required: 10 Min
What You Need: 4 Teaspoons of organic apple cider vinegar and a glass of water or fresh fruit juice
Apple cider vinegar is a home remedy whose healing properties have given it diverse uses, among them treating hot flushes naturally. This vinegar helps regulate toxins which are normally excreted through sweating. In doing so, the vinegar reduces the occurrence and severity of both hot flushes and night sweats in menopausal women. This also helps one get a good night’s rest as very severe sweating may lead to insomnia.
NOTE: The recommended type of apple cider vinegar is that which is raw and unfiltered.
- Put the apple cider vinegar in a glass and pour in the water of fresh fruit juice.
- Stir to mix and drink this mixture twice daily to keep the symptoms away.
9. Practical Tips:
- Practice deep breathing for about 10 minutes at a go. This not only relaxes you, which is important, women with mild hot flushes get relief from doing so. Granted, this may not eliminate hot flushes in their entirety, but they are beneficial because they help relieve sleep disturbances. Some women find that mindfulness also plays a key role in improving the body’s response to hot flushes.
- Keep away from coffee, hot spicy foods and hot drinks as many of these act as triggers and only worsen the symptoms associated with hot flushes. The same applies for smoking.
- Keep cool by dressing in layers so that when the weather changes, it is easy to remove additional clothing when your body’s core temperature increases even slightly. For the same reason, keep your room cool and stay hydrated.
- Other practical tips include sipping on ice-cold water when a hot flush begins, keeping a handy ice pack at your bedside as well as using cotton clothing instead of synthetic fiber which triggers sweating.
Different women experience varying degrees of hot flushes. Home remedies are preferred because they have minimal side effects. Use any of the natural treatments recommended above, and remember to get a medical appointment in case of any doubts.