There’s a lot of confusion surrounding hot flushes. It’s still not truly known what causes them. We know that they occur when a woman gets lower levels of oestrogen while she transitions through the menopause. But, despite this decrease in oestrogen being certain among women not all of you will get hot flushes. Which raises the question “Why me?”.
Clearly the hormone change alone is not enough to fully explain why one woman has hot flushes and the other doesn’t. Therefore, hormone replacement therapy may not be the most relevant treatment. Research done by R, Freedman in 2005 found that high stress levels in the year preceding and during the perimenopause may contribute, as well as things like smoking, drinking, anxiety and depression. They discovered that women with high stress levels had a decrease in the temperature changes they could adjust to. In essence, small temperature changes in the environment would equate to big body reactions. Including sweating to cool down and shivering to warm up. Some women even fluctuate suddenly between the two.
If stress is a key factor then this needs to be treated and we will touch a little on that today and more so in future blogs.
Avoid Caffeine and beware Alcohol. You might already be aware but both of these drinks may initiate a hot flush and will certainly increase how often you have them. But don’t be too harsh on yourself by cutting them out cold turkey. Slowly work your way down and replace with herbal teas instead. If you’re craving Caffeine it’s important to ask yourself why? Often this signifies a deeper need for energy. Chronically low energy levels are a good reason to see a herbalist so you can get some coaching on the steps you need to take to re-charge your battery again.
- Wear thin layers of natural fabrics. Natural fabrics like cotton and silk are far more breathable than synthetic fibres made of plastic. Wearing thin layers which move sweat away from the body will help you cool down faster if you’re caught out with a hot flush. It’ll also stop you from soaking your clothes and getting wet and cold as a result. I’d recommend investing in merino wool vests/base layers as these will let you sweat but keep you warm. Sports/yoga shops like Lululemon will be good places to talk to.
- Sage or Rose tea will help bring down your temperature. These are both cooling herbs which can be drunk throughout the day. They are nice in combination too. They both have an affinity to women and were traditionally used to balance hormones. This balancing effect is not due to a direct influence on the hormones though, which means any woman can use them without needing to know exactly where the imbalance lies.
- Decrease stress levels with Chamomile and Lime blossom. We’ve already spoken about how stress can impact the frequency and severity of flushing. Chamomile is a gentle relaxant and easy to come by. It makes a nice replacement to Caffeine especially after work. It will help if you’re having trouble sleeping. Lime blossom is not just a relaxant but also helps manage fevers when people are ill and will help you cool down when you’re having a hot flush too.
- Phytoestrogens from foods can be helpful to reduce the frequency of hot flushes. They are plant derived oestrogen. Soy is famous as a source of it but we now know that too much Soy can lead to some cancers. So you’re better off getting your phytoestrogens from split peas, flax seeds, sesame, alfalfa sprouts, chick peas, peanuts, rye, wheat, oat, and barley.
By treating women with hot flushes I’ve come to see them as the tip of the ice berg when looking at a woman’s over all health. They rarely stand alone as a symptom but seem to result from years of living a stressful life with a substandard diet. It’s sad to say that this is the vast majority of the population. No wonder hot flushes are so common!
Let me know if any of these points have helped you in the comments below and take the opportunity to ask me any questions you might have.
Book a space on our next workshop on the Menopause this weekend.
Freedman, RR. Seminars in Reproductive Medicine 2005; 23 (2): 117-125.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch (2005), Perimenopause: The Rocky Road to Menopause. [online] http://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/perimenopause_rocky_road_to_menopause