Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes

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You know they are coming. And when they arrive, they hit you like a ton of bricks. It’s everything you can do to cool off quickly. Unfortunately, hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause.

And because aging is not an option—most women have a pretty good chance of experiencing them at some point. More than 80% of women experience hot flashes during menopause.

Hot flashes are a sudden flush of heat and redness that are often accompanied by several unpleasant symptoms including sweating, anxiety, an uneasy feeling, and sometimes begin or end with chills. They last anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes and are often overlooked for treatment due to their seemingly benign nature.

If you are experiencing hot flashes and wondering what to do, several home remedies may help. Here is what you need to know about hot flashes including how to treat them.

Causes of Hot Flashes

Despite decades of research, the exact cause of hot flashes is not completely understood. Since they occur during menopause and are a result of an abnormality in the body’s thermoregulatory mechanism, there could be an association between lower estrogen levels and hot flashes.

Kim Langdon, MD

Hot flashes are due to vasomotor changes that cause blood vessels to dilate and release heat at the skin’s surface.

— Kim Langdon, MD

“Hot flashes are due to vasomotor changes that cause blood vessels to dilate and release heat at the skin’s surface," says Kim Langdon, MD, an OB/GYN from the Medzino medical group in Ohio. "It is thought to originate in the brain as a result of an estrogen deficiency.”

Because of this, hormone therapy and phytoestrogens could help reduce or eliminate hot flashes. Phytoestrogens are compounds in plants that contain a similar chemical structure as the female hormone estrogen.

Examples of foods high in phytoestrogens include soy products, flaxseeds, and red clover. The problem is the studies surrounding phytoestrogens and menopause symptoms are inconclusive.

Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes

When it comes to hot flashes, they can feel almost unbearable at times. If you are experiencing hot flashes and need some relief, try these natural remedies to see if they bring you relief.

Avoid Triggers

Though hot flashes are almost inevitable during menopause and perimenopause. Some triggers that could bring on a hot flash that maybe could have been avoided. Identifying and avoiding your triggers for hot flashes may mean the difference between having a hot flash and not.

Common Triggers

  • Hot weather
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Spicy foods
  • Tight clothing
  • Stress

If you are not sure of your triggers, keep a journal and mark down what you were doing, eating, and feeling before a hot flash occurred. Review your journal at the end of the day to help you determine any connections.

Use Vitamin E

The fat-soluble vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that reduces oxidative damage and fights free radicals. It has also been shown to help reduce the severity and onset of hot flashes as well as other symptoms related to menopause including depression, stress, heart disease, and weight gain.

Aim for at least 15 milligrams of vitamin E per day through diet and supplementation. Vitamin E-rich foods include wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, peanuts, spinach, broccoli, kiwi, mango, and tomato.

Follow a Plant-based Diet

Because phytoestrogens that act similar to estrogen are found in plants, a plant-based diet could help reduce the incidence of hot flashes and other symptoms related to menopause including night sweats and vaginal dryness.

In one study, participants included postmenopausal women reporting two or more hot flashes per day. They were randomly assigned a low-fat, vegan diet, including 1/2 cup soybeans daily, or no diet changes for 12 weeks.

During the 12-week study period, the majority (84%) of the intervention group participants became free of severe hot flashes. According to the study, incorporating soy-based products combined with a vegan or plant-based diet is one way to reduce hot flashes and feel better overall.

Another study comparing vegans to omnivores reported similar findings. Meanwhile, another study found that participants who followed a reduced-fat diet with an increase in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, experienced a noticeable reduction in vasomotor symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats.

Incorporate Flaxseed Into Meals

Flaxseeds are small, brown seeds that contain an abundance of heart-healthy fiber and healthy fats. They are often consumed as whole seeds, ground, or as an oil or extract, and used in cooking, on salads, and in smoothies. Flaxseeds also contain phytoestrogens that have been shown to improve menopause symptoms.

Specifically, flaxseeds have been studied to determine their effects on hot flashes. While they have been proven to have estrogenic effects, whether or not they have a profound effect on the frequency and intensity of hot flashes is still inconclusive. Either way, considering the overall health benefits of flaxseeds, it doesn’t hurt to include them in your diet.

Try Ginseng

Ginseng is an herb commonly used in Chinese medicine. It offers a host of nutritional benefits including the potential to reduce postmenopausal symptoms. One study evaluated the effects of red ginseng on menopause symptoms and heart disease risk with promising outcomes. The positive effects of red ginseng on menopause symptoms are due to its phytoestrogen content.

Children and pregnant women should avoid using Panax ginseng. If you have high blood pressure you should avoid using ginseng as it may affect blood pressure negatively. Discuss ginseng with a healthcare provider before beginning any herbal supplements including ginseng.

Consider Black Cohosh

Another herbal supplement packed with phytoestrogens is black cohosh. Researchers believe this herb may be the most promising herbal therapy alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Several studies have evaluated the effectiveness of high-dose black cohosh extract on menopause symptoms with promising results. However, more research is needed to determine effectiveness and safety. Talk with a healthcare provider before you start using black cohosh.

When to Call a Healthcare Provider

If your hot flashes are causing sleep disturbances or mood problems, talk to a healthcare provider says, Dr. Langdon. When lifestyle adjustments and natural remedies are not working, prescription medication may be needed. Your doctor will know what treatments are available and best for you to help improve your quality of life.

A Word From Verywell

Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause, especially at the early stages. Though they may occur often, you do not have to suffer through them. There are natural remedies you can try at home to relieve symptoms and reduce frequency. Talk to a healthcare provider first to determine if supplementation is right for you, though.

Making lifestyle adjustments to ease symptoms also can help alleviate the effects of hot flashes quickly. Try a cold compress on the back of the neck or turn down the temperature in the room. Wearing loose clothing and avoiding trigger foods will also help prevent hot flashes.

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