By Monazza Ahmad, B.Pharm, MSc
One of the symptoms of menopause that women wish had a permanent cure is hot flashes! The most uncomfortable and rather embarrassing aspect of hot flashes is that they visit unexpectedly. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a work meeting with executives, teaching to kindergarteners, at an intimate dinner, or just by yourself, there is no time and place for its occurrence.1
The sudden attack of heat and an outburst of sweating is enough to make anyone nervous. Prescription treatment options are usually costly and not suitable for some health conditions,2,3 leaving many women with no choice but to ignore it despite the distressful effect hot flashes have on their quality of life.4,5
But don’t be disappointed. In this post, you will find various natural ways and nonhormonal options to find relief from hot flashes until they disappear after completing their course. The severity and duration vary from woman to woman, so let the treatment take its time.5
Let’s understand what’s going on behind the scenes with hot flashes so we can mitigate the chaos it creates based on our body’s bioindividual needs.
How do I know it’s a hot flash?
During a hot flash, there is a sudden burst of heat from chest up that may result in red blotches on your skin and uncontrollable sweat. The untimely sweating, flushing, heat, and chills a few times a week or several times in a day is normal during menopause but definitely frustrating.
A single episode of hot flashes can last anywhere from one to five minutes and up to an hour. The hot flashes range anywhere from 1 to 10 daily with the duration from a few years to a couple of decades.5
What’s causing this gush of sweat?
Research suggests that hot flashes are a possible result of hypothalamus activity in regulating body’s temperature due to estrogen fluctuation.
Here’s what that means: Reduced estrogen levels can cause blood vessels near the skin to dilate, increasing the blood flow that elevates body temperature. This increase in temperature triggers hypothalamus (your body’s thermostat) to detect warmth so it starts to cool down the body by a process called sweating.4,5
We all know that sweat is an important mechanism of temperature control in the body. It helps dissipate body heat by turning heat vapors into liquid (sweat) to keep the body cool. So you really don’t want to stop a hot flash, since it’s protecting our bodies from getting overheated. What is needed is hormone regulation so the hot flashes are less severe.
How to squash hot flashes
While hot flashes subside on their own and may not require treatment, those experiencing severe effects may want to seek safe relief options. Here are some lifestyle improvements and natural remedies that might be helpful in tackling hot flashes safely.
Make sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner before taking any action; they will advise you on the best options and the right dosage for your specific health needs.
Vitamin D: Reduced levels of vitamin D are associated with many health conditions, including hot flashes. Try getting at least 15 minutes of sun every day and eat vitamin D-rich foods.6,7
Vitamin E and curcumin: Both these supplements have shown to reduce the severity and number of hot flashes. The dose of 200 to 400 IU for vitamin E and 500 mg for curcumin is found to be effective.8,9 Give at least four weeks to curcumin and up to eight weeks to vitamin E to work.3
Folic acid: About 1 mg of folic acid, a form of vitamin B, has shown weekly gradual improvement in severity. It may take about 3-4 weeks to reduce frequency and the duration of hot flashes.10
Vitamin B6 and oily fish: The impact of this vitamin on brain health, immune system, nerve function, and the breakdown of macronutrients explains its positive effect on vasomotor symptoms of menopause.11,12 To avoid pills, taking this vitamin in the form of oily fish has shown great results, too.13
Plant-derived solutions: Black cohosh,14,15 phytoestrogens, and some other herbs are commonly used for hot-flashes relief.16 Read more about these options on our blog: “Consider Using Plant-Derived Solutions to Treat Menopausal Symptoms.”
ERr 731®:* An extract of Siberian rhubarb, is the nonhormonal and generally safe solution16 to have shown significant improvements in all 11 major menopausal symptoms.17* It also has a high recommendation rate not only from providers but also from women who use it.
Acupuncture: This form of complementary therapy, in addition to usual care, has shown marked improvement in hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Acupuncture is commonly used for stress management, pain relief, and overall wellness with neurological stimulation.3,18,19
Resistance training: Lifting safe weights and isometric and plyometric exercises helps reduce hot flashes. In a study of menopausal women, hot flashes reduced by more than 40% in less than four months in women who performed these exercises regularly for at least three times per week. Active women experience less severe symptoms than inactive women.20,21
Eating: Food intake at regular intervals can reduce hot-flash frequency. So have a healthy snack between meals to avoid letting your blood glucose levels fall too low.22
Diet: A low-fat, plant-based diet including half cup of cooked soybeans 3-4 times daily along with TLC diet can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.23,24
Stress management: Anxiety and stress are the common triggers for many health conditions. Stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and resting can all help with hot flashes.25
Also of vital importance: Avoiding alcohol, smoking, spicy food, caffeine, and sugar, along with physical exertion and managing weight all contribute toward reducing the severity of hot flashes.26,27
Menopause and its symptoms are unavoidable, but you can definitely take these steps to minimize the discomfort and enjoy your daily activities.
A piece of advice for younger women and those who haven’t reached menopause yet: Start taking care of your body early on in life. Eat healthy food and do regular physical activity to keep your hormones regulated. So when menopause hits, your body will be prepared to handle the ups and downs of aging and can recover faster.
1. Mayo Clinic. Hot flashes: symptoms & causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/symptoms-causes/syc-20352790. Accessed February 14, 2023.
2. Rosenberg V et al. Hormone-replacement therapy and its association with breast cancer subtypes: a large retrospective cohort study. Int. J Womens Health. 2021;1:1207-1216.
3. Mayo Clinic. Hot flashes: diagnosis & treatment. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hot-flashes/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352795. Accessed February 14, 2023.
4. Bansal R et al. Menopausal hot flashes: a concise review. J Midlife Health. 2019;10(1):6-13.
5. Freedman RR. Menopausal hot flashes: mechanisms, endocrinology, treatment. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2014;142:115-120.
6. Arslanca T et al. The relationship between vitamin D and vasomotor symptoms during the postmenopausal period. Clin Lab. 2020;66(7).
7. Religi A et al. Estimation of exposure durations for vitamin D production and sunburn risk in Switzerland. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2019;29(6):742-752.
8. Ataei-Almanghadim K et al. The effect of oral capsule of curcumin and vitamin E on the hot flashes and anxiety in postmenopausal women: a triple blind randomised controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2020;48:102267.
9. Ziaei S et al. The effect of vitamin E on hot flashes in menopausal women. Gynecol Obstet Invest. 2007;64(4):204-207.
10. Bani S et al. The effect of folic acid on menopausal hot flashes: a randomized clinical trial. J Caring Sci. 2013;2(2):131-140.
11. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Vitamin B6. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b6. Accessed February 14, 2023.
12. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin B6 fact sheet for consumers. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-Consumer. Accessed February 14, 2023.
13. Odai T et al. Severity of hot flushes is inversely associated with dietary intake of vitamin B6 and oily fish. Climacteric. 2019;22(6):617-621.
14. National Institutes of Health. Black cohosh. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/black-cohosh. Accessed February 14, 2023.
15. Geller SE et al. Botanical and dietary supplements for menopausal symptoms: what works, what does not. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2005;14(7):6340649.
16. Chang JL et al. Rheum rhaponticum extract (ERr 731): postmarketing data on safety surveillance and consumer complaints. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2016;15(3):34-39.
17. Kaszkin-Bettag M et al. Confirmation of the efficacy of ERr 731 in perimenopausal women with menopausal symptoms. Altern Ther Health Med. 2009;15(1):24-34.
18. Kim KH et al. Effects of acupuncture on hot flashes in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women–a multicenter randomized clinical trial. Menopause. 2010;17(2):269-280.
19. Mayo Clinic. Acupuncture. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/acupuncture/about/pac-20392763. Accessed February 14, 2023.
20. Berin E et al. Resistance training for hot flushes in postmenopausal women: A randomised controlled trial. Maturitas. 2019;126:55-60.
21. Dabrowska-Galas M et al. High physical activity level may reduce menopausal symptoms. Medicina (Kaunas). 2019;55(8):466.
22. Dormire S et al. The effect of dietary intake on hot flashes in menopausal women. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2007;36(3):255–262.
23. Barnard ND et al. The Women’s Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms (WAVS): a randomized, controlled trial of a plant-based diet and whole soybeans for postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2021;28(10):1150-1156.
24. Welty FK et al. The association between soy nut consumption and decreased menopausal symptoms. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2007;16(3):361-369.
25. Freeman EW et al. Anxiety as a risk factor for menopausal hot flashes: evidence from the Penn ovarian aging cohort. Menopause. 2016;23(9):942–949. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4993654/
26. NIH. Hot flashes: what can I do? https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hot-flashes-what-can-i-do. Accessed February 14, 2023.
27. Herber-Gast GCM et al. Fruit, Mediterranean-style, and high-fat and -sugar diets are associated with the risk of night sweats and hot flushes in midlife: results from a prospective cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;97(5):1092-1099.
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