When I was a teenager, I remember my mother saying she woke up at night drenched with perspiration. Each night she had to change her nightgown and sheets. During the day - especially in the summer - she would perspire profusely. At that time, didn't realize she was going through menopause; I just knew something was wrong. My mother wasn’t alone. About 80 percent of menopausal women in this country have hot flashes, some for as long as 15 years! And these hot flashes and flushes can last for a few seconds or up to five minutes.
Hot flashes drive thousands of women into taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) even when they have no other menopausal symptoms. This is unfortunate, because there are natural solutions with no side effects or risks of cancer, heart disease, or other illnesses.
These surges of intense heat appear to be caused by the hypothalamus gland, which regulates your body's temperature. Heat occurs when it isn’t able to adjust to changing hormone levels. Even a slight alteration in this thermostat can cause flushing and periods of intense heat. Low estrogen may be one reason for a malfunctioning hypothalamus, or it may be due to an imbalance of naturally occurring brain opiates caused by lowered estrogens and progesterone.
Some researchers believe that hot flashes are caused by too much dopamine. They are testing the effects of the herb sage to block the neurotransmitter that signals the brain to release more dopamine. Preliminary studies show that sage is one solutions that seems to work well for hot flashes. But there are other steps to take before taking this herb or any other supplements.
First, cool down your diet
The first thing you can do is lower foods that create heat in your body, such as fatty foods, sugars, and spicy foods. Tone down any spicy foods you might like from "very hot" to "warm."
- Reduce caffeine —— it can contribute to hot flashes. Black tea contains less caffeine than coffee. Green tea is lower in caffeine than black. And herb teas have none. Rooibus, or red bush tea, is a hearty herb that looks and tastes a lot like black tea and contains no caffeine at all. At the very least, reduce the number of cups of caffeinated beverages. And remember, colas have caffeine and sugar (or artificial sweeteners that may cause other reactions).
- Add more fruits and vegetables —— they cool your body. Lemon water is a very good coolant, as are salads and fresh fruit. And don't forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Make a lemonade sweetened with stevia if you like.
- Add soy to your diet. Isoflavones found in soy foods may help reduce your hot flashes even better than soy isoflavone supplements. There are co-factors in soy, missing in the isoflavones alone, that may reduce hot flashes. In Japan, where soy is more prevalent in diets, there is no word for "hot flashes." The phenomenon simply doesn't exist.
- Hesperidin is a flavonoid found in lemons and oranges. I stumbled upon it more than a dozen years ago and have found it works like a miracle for many women to eliminate hot flashes and night sweats. Hands down, hesperidin is my favorite nutrient for excessive heat.
This nutrient seems to act directly on the hypothalamus, helping it to regulate temperatures more easily. Studies show that it also decreases the permeability of tiny blood vessels, which makes it valuable for all vascular conditions from hot flashes to hemorrhoids. Simply put, hesperidin supports the integrity of the vascular system, which is weakened by hormonal fluctuations.