I was recently asked “What’s the best natural product for hot flashes? My answer was well that all depends... I know this isn’t the answer that she wanted to hear and I do apologize for that but it’s the truth. Every woman is such a unique beautiful individual with different triggers and nothing is going to work for everyone. But I can give you some clues as to what might improve your symptom picture.
When you consider symptoms of the menopausal transition did you know some women breeze through without a care in the world? I would say roughly 20% of women are this lucky, roughly another 20% are at the extreme other end and the rest of us, are in the middle somewhere. We all end up with lower hormone levels and we stop menstruating but we all have very different experiences.
If you consider the average age of menopause is 51, that’s 51 years of different experiences we have all had. We have had different stresses, different toxin loads, different diets, different exercise routines, different levels of social support, different genetics and the list goes on.
Have you read the Why am I having hot flashes articles? If not you may like to start there.
This article is an update of tips taken from more recently published research on hot flashes.
The American Academy of sleep medicine found hot flashes are more frequent among women with interrupted sleep patterns. In fact, there were 4 studies showing a clear link between sleep disturbances and hot flashes. The problem is it’s not that easy to fix sleep disturbances, is it? So I was happy when I found further research looking at ways to improve sleep and reduce flashes. There were a couple of successful studies on wearable cooling devices. I also found a paper on progressive muscle relaxation techniques for improving sleep and decreasing the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, and another one on the benefits of cognitive-behavioral therapy. These last 2 techniques are also useful in reducing the stress response and improving mood. Smelling Lavender essential oil before bed may be another option to enhance your overall sleep quality, reduce your hot flashes, and improve your mood.
If you are experiencing disturbed sleep and you think this may be a contributing factor in your hot flashes you may also like to read this article Menopausal sleep
I was pleased to see new research on the benefits of acupuncture in reducing hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.
Research from the Midlife Women’s Health Study looked at the role of phthalate exposure and the development of hot flashes. Phthalates are environmental chemicals found in multiple sources but the most problematic being from plastic. Think plastic water bottles, plastic storage containers, cooking utensils, etc. They found phthalate contamination to be strongly correlated with hot flashes. One of the tests I consider for my patients is a urine test called GPL TOX, it looks at not only phthalate toxicity but also checks 172 other environmental toxins that could be causing health issues.
The number 1 dietary change I recommend women start with is to reduce sugar, so I love it when I find research along this line. The next paper found a strong association between metabolic syndrome and hot flashes. Metabolic syndrome increased hot flashes and hot flashes increase metabolic syndrome. What came first the chicken or the egg? The best way to break this chain is to remove sugar from your diet and improve your insulin sensitivity.
Finally, there were herbal studies looking at the effectiveness of herbs such as Red Clover, Black Cohosh, and Withania. Withania is one of my favorite herbs. In some parts of the world, it's called Ashwagandha. In a study only published last month. 100 symptomatic peri-menopausal women were divided into an active and control group. The active group was given 300mg of root extract TWICE daily for 8 weeks. The report found these women experienced significant psychological improvements, reduced menopausal symptoms, and surprisingly they also found lower FSH and LH levels and higher estrogen levels. This surprised me as Withania is not a phytoestrogen. It is an adaptogen herb, that helps you build resistance to stress. It is one of the first herbs I think of in regard to stress and mood issues but now I'll add it to my list of helpful herbs in reducing hot flashes.
So I hope you can see from this that there isn’t one best natural product for hot flashes. It is so multifactorial. I hope I have given you fuel for thought as you consider if you have any of these contributing factors, lifestyle factors like the lack of sleep, environmental factors like phthalate toxicity, dietary factors like blood sugar issues, or if stress is at the core of your issues.
Please reach out if you need a hand finding natural solutions to your menopausal symptoms. Why not book a discovery call today?