Complementary Solutions for Helping with Hot Flushes•
Posted on March 27 2019
Most women will experience a hot flush at some point in their journey through the menopause. As your body begins to change, fluctuating oestrogen levels can play havoc with the hypothalamus – the tiny part of the brain that controls body temperature. This may result in the brain sending confused signals around the body, which can leave you sweaty and flushed. To compensate for the sudden rise in temperature, your body then signals for it to suddenly drop, which is why you can feel chilly after a flush. Hot flushes can also cause a range of other sensations, such as finger tingling, redness, dizziness, sweating, shaking and even heart palpitations.
No two journeys are the same – there are thought to be at least 34 symptoms that are menopause related, so when it comes to finding something that helps, there is no ‘one size fits all’. The good news is that there are many treatments out there to try. Here we look at some of the ‘alternative’ and ‘complementary’ therapies. It’s a popular route if, for example, HRT is not an option, or desired.
Homeopathy is based on the idea that taking certain highly diluted substances (derived from plants and minerals) can kickstart the body into healing itself. Homeopathy is a holistic treatment and a homeopath will look at your lifestyle – including your emotional states, how you respond to stress, any physical problems – to help pinpoint the right homeopathic remedies, not just for the symptom, e.g. the hot flush, but for you as a whole. Common remedies to help with menopausal symptoms include:
- Calcarea carbonica – for night sweats, weight gain, disrupted sleep, painful sex, tiredness and anxiety.
- Pulsatilla – for oversensitivity, low moods and pessimism. Women who are said to benefit from this remedy tend to get particularly tired mid-afternoon.
Sepia – for those who find it difficult to switch off.
For more information check out the Society of Homeopaths.
This is the practice of inserting needles into specific points of the body to help relieve pain and promote healing. There is evidence that acupuncture can alleviate hot flushes and the feeling of anxiety during the menopause, but feedback about its benefits is mixed and there are calls for more rigorous trials to assess its effectiveness in helping to ease menopausal symptoms.
You can find more information at the British Acupuncture Council.
Plant essential oils have been used for centuries to help alleviate menopausal symptoms and there is increasing scientific evidence to show aromatherapy can help. A 2016 study showed that inhaling lavender essential oil twice a day over 12 weeks could reduce menopausal hot flushing. Research from 2015 suggests geranium oil may help alleviate depression and anxiety in menopausal women.
Find more information at The Aromatherapy Council.
Herbal Medicine has been used for thousands of years to relieve menopausal symptoms and in our recent poll hosted in The Chilled Menopause Facebook group, sage leaf extract, black cohosh and red clover were all voted for as popular natural remedies, with sage leaf extract being voted for by over 40% of participants. You can now find many of these in supplement form:
- Sage leaf extract. Sage, part of the mint family, has been used for centuries for the relief of hot flushes and there is encouraging scientific evidence to testify to its effectiveness. In one Swiss study, 71 menopausal women who were given a sage preparation daily for eight weeks were found to have a lower incidence of flushes (1).
- Black cohosh. This traditional North American herb has been used for centuries to help reduce hot flushes but scientific evidence for its effectiveness remains mixed. Many women report that it has significantly helped them, although Black cohosh is known to interact with some other medicines, so do talk to your GP before taking it alongside any prescribed medication.
- Red clover. Red clover is a flowering plant containing phytoestrogens, plant compounds which act in a similar way to oestrogen. A 2017 study gave a combination of red clover and probiotics to 62 perimenopausal women over the course of 12 weeks and it was concluded that the women’s hot flushes and night sweats improved when compared to a placebo. (2) The plant appears well-tolerated and there are calls for more research into this popular remedy.
Although many of us may prefer the idea of taking something natural over a drug or medicine, it’s worth mentioning the guidelines from NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), which state that any herbal remedies that are not regulated by a medicine authority should not be considered safe. So look for the THR (Traditional Herbal Remedy) logo on supplement packs to ensure the product you are buying has been approved.
Other natural solutions
There are many other natural solutions out there, including cooling pillows, eye masks and, of course, our Become menopause clothing, which has been specifically created with hot flushes in mind. What sets us apart from other cooling clothing brands is that we’ve carefully researched how the body reacts to a hot flush in order to create a hi-tech fabric that uses a mixture of complex yarns and patent-pending Anti-Flush Technology™ to ease the symptoms in four important ways:
- Cooling the skin
- Wicking moisture
- Reducing odour
Releasing heat back onto the body (when post-flush chill sets in)
Our clothing transfers heat and moisture away from the body, then cleverly stores the heat to keep you warm when you feel chilly.
It's definitely worth spending time to figure out what your own personal triggers are when it comes to hot flushes. Try keeping a journal to note down any food or drink you've had, your activity, feelings and the environment prior to a flush striking. Whilst this can feel time-consuming, it may unearth any patterns that trigger hot flushes, so you can limit or avoid them. And there’s no denying that whatever you do decide to take or practise, keeping healthy through a balanced diet and exercise should not be overlooked in favour of taking supplements.
As always, we would also recommend that if you are worried about your symptoms and in need of advice and support, do book an appointment to speak to your GP. And do tell them if you are taking any herbal supplements as they can interact with other treatments or medicines.
We hope that we’ve given you some tips and wish you well on your journey for a cooler tomorrow. As always, do get in touch in the comments below if you have found anything that particularly works well for you that you’d like to share with other hot women.
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