6 Health & Leisure Magazine / May 2008 / www.healthandleisureonline.com
By Nedra Downing, DO
A hot flash by any other name is still a hot flash – a sudden feeling of intense heat
in the upper body and face. Hot flashes occur among women at midlife and are
one of the most common and earliest signs that menopause is approaching.
Some women experience very few hot flashes or none at all. Others have frequent
hot flashes accompanied by intense sweating and itching. When they occur at
night, they are called night sweats which usually interfere with sleep.
WHAT CAUSES HOT FLASHES? • Stress hands-on treatments, activities to
• Heat and sun exposure reduce stress, and natural hormones
The cause of hot flashes is not certain. if needed.
Declining and fluctuating levels of • Cigarette smoke, wood smoke and
estrogens may be the cause. There are grill fumes BIO-IDENTICAL HORMONES
estrogen receptors on heat regulating • Environmental toxins like formaldehyde Balancing hormones with Bio-Identical
areas of the brain. Blood vessels dilate Hormones is safer and more natural
• Allergic foods
causing warmth and flushing in the skin. than using strong, synthetic or horse-
• Salty snack foods like chips and urine-derived hormones. The key word
cheese curls here is balancing. Having saliva
TRIGGERS FOR HOT FLASHES
• Processed meats, cold cuts, ham, hormones checked before starting
If you are prone to hot flashes, avoid hot dogs them and after three to six months is
the following: a reasonable approach to achieving
• Caffeine TREATMENTS balance. Often only small amounts are
needed to bring relief from hot flashes.
• Refined sugar and white flour foods Conventional medicine treats hot flashes
• Alcohol with powerful prescription hormones HERBS
that have been reported to have serious Herbs are some of the oldest hot flash
• Diet sodas and other soft drinks
side effects. Other types of drugs remedies. They can be brewed as teas
• Food dyes and artificial sweeteners including antidepressants, tranquilizers, to be drunk hot or iced, or taken as
• Fried foods and charred meats blood pressure and anti-seizure tinctures which are dropped into cool
medications are also used. water and then swallowed. Tablets and
• Partially hydrogenated oils and
trans fats capsules are very popular made from
Many women seek natural choices
single or blended herbs. Herbs are slow
• Chocolate, cocoa and tea for some and wish to be empowered to help
to act, so stay with your choices. Some
women themselves. Safe and effective options
of the best time-honored herbs for hot
include: diet, nutrients, exercise, herbs,
• Spices flashes are the following:
aromatherapy, homeopathic remedies,
Health & Leisure Magazine / May 2008 / www.healthandleisureonline.com 7
COMMON • Black cohosh
sun. Wear clothing made from natural fibers such
as cotton, hemp, or silk.
TRIGGERS • Evening primrose or black currant oil
MEDITATION, TAI CHI, YOGA
FOR HOT • Raspberry leaf, red clover, sweet
Quieting the mind and deepening relaxation
through daily practice can help to reduce stress
briar, dandelion, fenugreek seed, response and thus hot flashes. Slow, deep
FLASHES hops, elder flower, sage and
breathing as taught in yoga or Buddhist meditation
is very helpful for staving off hot flashes. Susan
• Motherwort Weed wrote a classic book on menopause which
includes a Kundalini yoga meditation.
• Dong quai
• Witch hazel facial swabs
• Refined sugar and • Chamomile tub soaks Such activities as reading, listening to music,
white flour foods or journal writing can help. Massage, Reiki, or
NUTRIENTS Reflexology treatments are wonderful for helping
• Alcohol Vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are useful women feel grounded, and for balancing chakras.
support at midlife. Most noteworthy is Vitamin E,
which has often helped with hot flashes. Getting HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES
• Diet sodas and other enough of other nutrients, such as Vitamins C, Homeopathic Remedies were the choices
soft drinks D2, B-Complex, minerals, essential fatty acids of our ancestors. These remarkable little
is important. remedies are very safe and effective.
• Food dyes and • Lachesis
artificial sweeteners FOODS TO HELP REDUCE HOT FLASHES
Dietary choices and cooking methods
influence hot flashes. Eating smaller meals and • Pulsatilla
• Fried foods and
more cold foods helps. Organic plant-based meals • Belladonna Compositum
charred meats consisting of vegetables, roots, grains, legumes, • Sulfur
fruits, nuts, seeds, quinoa, buckwheat and sea
• Partially hydrogenated vegetables are the core of a good diet. Meat, • Nux vomica
oils and trans fats poultry, fish or tofu may be included to add • Rhus tox
protein. Drinking vegetable juices including green, • Cell salts
leafy vegetables; eating a fresh green salad daily
• Chocolate, cocoa and
and vegetable soup often is helpful.
tea for some women BACH FLOWER REMEDIES
Plant foods rich in phyrosterols can help Aromatherapy is pleasant and easy. Oils may be
• Spices regulate hormones since they have similar diluted with organic carrier oils such as almond oil
ring structures. Among the best are: broccoli, and massaged into the skin. A few drops may be
cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bamboo shoots, added to warm water for a tub soak or bath. Oils
• Stress artichokes, red cabbage, eggplant, okra, turnips, may be absorbed into a cotton ball and placed
apricots, figs, cantaloupe, pomegranate, rye, near a pillow or on a desk. Rosewater facial spray
• Heat and sun barley, chickpeas, and pine nuts. or lavender hair oil can be used.
exposure Soy foods help balance and support
hormones. One study showed that 20 grams • Clary sage
• Cigarette smoke, of soy protein per day reduced hot flashes. Two- • Geranium
wood smoke and thirds of women in North America suffer from hot
grill fumes flashes, while Asian women who eat more soy
seldom have them.
• Environmental toxins Also, be sure to drink plenty of cool water, mineral
like formaldehyde water, or dilute organic green tea.
• Allergic foods EXERCISE DAILY • Sandalwood
Walking, swimming, bicycling, dancing, house • Ylang ylang
work, and gardening are all good exercises to
• Salty snack foods
keep blood flowing and lungs working.
like chips and No need to just suffer through hot flashes when
so many wonderful remedies are available to ease
cheese curls COOL TEMPERATURES the way. Choose those that appeal to you and give
Use fans or air conditioning and stay out of the it a try!
• Processed meats, cold
cuts, ham, hot dogs
8 Health & Leisure Magazine / May 2008 / www.healthandleisureonline.com