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If you’re looking for a natural remedy for hot flashes, you aren’t alone. These primarily affect menopausal women, but they can also stem from hormonal imbalances and may occur due to other reasons aside from menopause. In our guide, we discuss why these happen and whether or not there’s a truly effective natural remedy for hot flashes.
What Can Trigger Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes are sudden, and you may experience feelings of warmth and heat, as well as sweating and maybe a flushed, red face. They’re experienced primarily during menopause, and the reasons for them can include:
- Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormones are the most common reason for severe hot flashes, especially decreases in estrogen levels. This is why they’re associated with menopause, as estrogen levels decline during this time. Hot flashes can also happen during perimenopause, which is the time leading up to menopause, and in men and women undergoing hormonal treatments like certain types of cancer treatment.
- Hypothalamus dysfunction: The hypothalamus is a brain region that helps regulate your body temperature. Hormonal changes, especially in estrogen, can disrupt the normal functioning of your hypothalamus. In turn, it may misinterpret your body temperature, triggering hot flashes.
- Lifestyle factors: There are certain triggers for hot flashes or things that can make them worse, including caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, smoking, and stress.
- Medical conditions: Thyroid disorders and some other medical conditions that lead to hormonal imbalances can contribute to hot flashes. Obesity is another medical condition that can influence the occurrence of hot flashes.
Why Menopause Causes Hot Flashes
Menopause is a biological process that marks the end of your reproductive years as a woman. Most women will start to experience it from the ages of 45 to 55, and one of the biggest and most commonly seen symptoms is hot flashes.
The reason for this, as touched on, is primarily the decline in estrogen. Estrogen is a reproductive hormone that regulates many bodily functions, including the hypothalamus. As a woman approaches menopause, the ovaries produce less estrogen. This decline can impact the hypothalamus and cause dysregulated communication as far as temperature goes.
The hypothalamus helps regulate your body temperature by responding to internal and external conditions. If your estrogen is declining, the hypothalamus might become more sensitive to even slight changes in body temperature and interpret them as too high. This then triggers the cooling mechanism of the body, leading to a hot flash.
Hot flashes involve the dilation of blood vessels located near the surface of the skin. There’s an increase in blood flow and a sudden feeling of warmth. The body responds to the perceived heat by initiating sweating to cool you down. This is known as vasomotor instability, influenced by hormonal fluctuations and the response of the hypothalamus to these changes.
Other Menopausal Symptoms Aside from Hot Flashes
If you’re looking for a natural remedy for hot flashes, you might also be experiencing other symptoms of menopause. If you are, many of the supplements we’re going to cover below that act as a natural remedy for fewer hot flashes can also help alleviate these symptoms.
Common symptoms of menopause include:
- Night sweats are similar to a hot flash in that they involve sudden, intense heat and sweating during sleep. The effects include disrupted sleep patterns, which can lead to other symptoms.
- Periods often become irregular during perimenopause and then stop altogether.
- Declines in estrogen levels can reduce vaginal lubrication, leading to dryness. Vaginal dryness can cause itching, discomfort and pain during intercourse.
- Hormonal fluctuations during menopause can cause mood changes. These include mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and, for some women, depression.
- Changes in hormone levels, along with night sweats and hot flashes, can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to insomnia or problems staying asleep.
- Some women experience a lack of energy or fatigue.
- Changes in metabolism paired with fluctuations in hormones and the effects of aging may contribute to weight gain, especially around the midsection.
- Hormonal changes affect connective tissues and joints, potentially leading to pain and discomfort.
- Some women report cognitive changes during menopause, like issues with memory, mental clarity and concentration. The collection of cognitive symptoms is sometimes referred to as brain fog.
- Hormone fluctuations can affect the texture and quality of skin and hair, leading to thinning hair, dryness and less elasticity.
Supplements as a Natural Remedy for Hot Flashes
If you want to treat hot flashes or start reducing hot flashes, below we explore some of the best natural remedy options and how to take them.
Black cohosh is one of the most effective herbal supplements in terms of a hot flash natural remedy. It can also help with other menopause symptoms and general symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
Black cohosh is believed to have mild estrogenic effects, which is why it can help menopausal symptoms. There’s also evidence to suggest black cohosh can influence serotonin receptors, contributing to mood-enhancing benefits. Specifically, in terms of menopause symptoms, taking a black cohosh supplement might help with hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.
A typical black cohosh dose for hot flashes and menopause symptoms is 20 to 40 mg a day, standardized to contain 2.5% triterpene glycosides.
You might want to start with a lower dose if you’re unsure how black cohosh will affect you and gradually work your way up as you’re working to reduce hot flashes. This is the case with the other natural remedies for hot flashes listed in this guide as well.
Soy isoflavones are plant compounds with estrogen-like effects that may help balance hormone levels in menopausal women, making them excellent remedies for hot flashes. In addition to being a natural remedy for hot flashes, soy isoflavones can support heart and bone health, both critical for menopausal women.
Doses usually range from 40 to 80 mg of soy isoflavones a day.
Dong Quai is used heavily in Traditional Chinese Medicine and may regulate hormonal balance because of its mild estrogenic effects. The herbal remedy may help with hot flashes and mood swings, so it’s one of the best natural remedies in this area of women’s health.
Typical doses can range from 500 to 1000 mg, taken two to three times a day.
Red clover contains isoflavones similar to soy, with effects that are similar to estrogen. Red clover doses range from 40 to 80 mg a day to relieve hot flashes and promote women’s health.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil works very well as a natural remedy for hot flashes for many people. It’s a source of gamma-linolenic acid or GLA. This essential fatty acid is thought to help regulate hormones and bring them back into balance. Along with alleviating hot flashes, evening primrose oil is often used to treat menopause symptoms like breast pain and tenderness associated with hormonal changes.
Doses range from 500-1000 mg, taken one to three times a day.
As an antioxidant, vitamin E may help reduce the inflammation and oxidative stress associated with menopausal symptoms. It’s also used to manage hot flashes, which can be helpful not only when they are associated with menopause but also when they are associated with breast cancer treatment. A typical dose of vitamin E is around 400 IU a day.
Flaxseed is a source of lignans with mild estrogen effects that may help regulate hormonal balance. It can also promote heart health and manage hot flashes naturally. Flaxseed can be added to food or drinks, and a common dose is around 40 mg of ground flaxseed a day.
Lifestyle Changes That Help with Hot Flashes
Along with the supplements above that can act as a natural remedy for hot flashes, lifestyle changes may be beneficial, such as:
- Healthy diet: When you have a balanced, healthy diet, it can support your overall health. Some women find avoiding alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods helps reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes. You can also include foods with phytoestrogens in your diet, like flaxseed, soy products and legumes. These may have mild estrogenic effects.
- Regular exercise: Exercise can help regulate hormones, improve mood, and boost overall well-being. It is also associated with a reduction in hot flashes and better sleep quality.
- Stress management: Stress can worsen hot flashes, but practices like deep breathing, yoga, meditation and mindfulness can minimize stress and improve mental well-being.
- Hydration: Staying well-hydrated can help you avoid night sweats.
- Herbal teas: Sage and chamomile are herbal teas that may be beneficial in the management of hot flashes. They’re calming and soothing, and they’re especially good to take before bed.
If you’re dealing with hot flashes, it’s essential to talk to your doctor if you have concerns. While supplements and lifestyle changes can be an excellent natural remedy for hot flashes, they’re not a replacement for medical advice or care. There are also prescription approaches to treating hot flashes, such as hormone therapy or prescription drugs, but not every woman can use these or wants to use them to alleviate symptoms. At the same time, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any dietary supplements you’re thinking about taking for menopausal hot flashes.