Hot flushes can happen before or after menopause. Most women find that hot flushes increase in frequency after their periods have stopped, and then hang around for 1 to 2 years.
Every woman experiences hot flushes differently. Often it is the symptoms that accompany the hot flush that make it unbearable, such as profuse sweating, anxiety, palpitations, sleep disturbance, headaches or a complete loss of concentration.
About 10% of women will find hot flushes so distressing that they will need to seek help for them.
Here is a list of the 6 most common things I recommend to reduce hot flushes:
1. Herbal medicine
Many women have heard of Black cohosh, a readily available herb taken by millions of women around the world at menopause. However Black cohosh is just one of about 20 to 30 herbs that herbalists and naturopaths regularly prescribe during menopause.
To design a formula with the right combination of herbs for you, I take into account many factors, such as your health history, your stress levels, symptoms, and any other medications that you might be on. You can be sure that a professionally prescribed herbal formula will help to improve all of your menopause symptoms.
To learn more about herbal medicine and how it is prepared and taken, click here.
2. Increase phytoestrogen foods
Many herbs and vegetables contain substances called phytoestrogens. The regular consumption of phytoestrogen foods has been shown to improve menopausal symptoms and reduce the intensity of hot flushes.
Fennel, sage (pictured above), red clover, black beans and many other everyday herbs and vegetables contain phytoestrogens. To get a sustained effect, you must consume some of these foods at every meal.
3. Diet changes to balance blood sugar
Blood sugar swings can make hot flushes worse. To keep blood sugar levels from fluctuating, I recommend that women include protein and healthy fats at each meal.
Breakfast is important, and a good breakfast of eggs with mushrooms, baby spinach and avocado, will keep glucose levels more steady throughout the morning, than a bowl of cereal or a cup of coffee. Snacking on nuts and seeds when you're hungry, rather than reaching for muffins, cakes and chocolate can improve hot flushes.
Women who exercise daily have been shown to have fewer hot flushes. Walking, swimming and any activity that gets you moving is great. Some studies on the benefits of exercise have suggested that late afternoon exercise is most beneficial for improving hot flushes.
5. Reducing stress levels
Stress hormones and reproductive hormones have a complex relationship. Stress impacts us at menopause because it has a direct affect on our progesterone and oestrogen levels. Stressed out women over the age of 40 can suffer many hormone related symptoms.
Reducing your cortisol levels through breathing, yoga, meditation and walking will bring about positive improvement in your menopause symptoms. Herbal medicine can be very effective at helping you to de-stress and regulate your stress hormones, if lifestyle changes don't work for you.
6. Herbal tea
Sipping on herbal tea throughout the day has many health benefits. There are a few herbal tea blends that I regularly recommend to women who are experiencing hot flushes.
One of the herbs I suggest is sage. Sage tea has no direct hormonal effect, instead it's job is to reduce the sweatiness during a hot flush. I might recommend different blends of herbs, depending on your symptoms.
For best results, get some advice
As a naturopath, improving the symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause is my area of special interest. I love to support women to prioritise their health and transition gracefully through the 2 to 7 years of menopause.
If you think you are having hot flushes, or might be experiencing any symptoms of menopause or peri-menopause, please get in touch to enquire about booking an appointment.
I am a Sydney based naturopath, herbalist, nutritionist and wellness coach.
My area of special interest is women's health, peri-menopause and menopause.