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Many women who have experienced menopausal symptoms will say that hot flashes are unpleasant, uncomfortable, and a major problem for them. Hot flashes can interfere with quality of life, sleep, and daily activities. With hot flashes affecting the majority of women of menopausal age, effective treatments are essential.
One very popular treatment used to be hormone replacement therapy. But after reports questioned the safety of this therapy and identified major risks associated with it–including an increased risk of certain cancers and other disease–many women have turned away from this approach and towards natural remedies for hot flashes instead.
1. Herbal Remedies
There are numerous herbs and natural products that are effective in reducing hot flashes. One of the most widely used herbs for this purpose is black cohosh. It is believed that a compound called an isoflavone in black cohosh may directly stimulate estrogen receptors, and so help alleviate the symptoms related to menopause caused by a drop in estrogen.
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Numerous studies have found that consuming black cohosh daily can reduce the number of hot flashes and symptom severity, though other studies have shown no effect. In the past there was some question of the safety of black cohosh, but more recent studies have found that it is safe and is not associated with breast cancer risk, as previously suspected. Try 40 to 80 mg daily.
Other herbs that help reduce hot flash intensity, severity, and frequency include evening primrose oil (use 500 mg daily) and red clover (use 80 mg daily).[1,5,6,7]
2. Relaxation Techniques
Although the exact cause of hot flashes is unknown, researchers know that an activation of the sympathetic nervous system is involved in causing the symptoms of heat and sweat felt in the chest, neck, and face. Relaxation techniques can help to minimize hot flashes by inhibiting that sympathetic activation. What’s more, negative emotions and distress over symptoms may make the severity of symptoms worse.
In one study, deep, paced breathing reduced hot flash frequency and intensity. Participants spent 15 minutes twice a day breathing at a rate of six breaths/minute for a total of eight weeks. A daily practice like this can help to calm your body and your symptoms.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programs can also be effective. A study of over 100 women in menopause found that those who underwent MBSR training for nine weeks found that hot flashes bothered them 15% less than before the training. They also found that hot flash intensity decreased by about 45%. Sleep quality, quality of life, anxiety, and perceived stress were also significantly improved, and these improvements lasted for three months after the intervention.
3. Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
A more natural alternative to conventional hormone replacement therapy, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy uses hormones that are identical to the body’s natural ones, which are administered in amounts that mimic natural levels in menstruating women. This type of therapy has been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and reduces anxiety and depression in menopausal women, as well. To learn more, go here. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can also help keep bones healthy and protect against osteoporosis after menopause.
Share Your Experience
Are you a menopausal woman experiencing hot flashes? Have ever tried any of these natural remedies? Share your tips for treating hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms in the comments section below.
This article was originally published in 2015. It has since been updated.