What to Do About Hot Flashes?
Is menopause setting in and gifting you with unpleasant symptoms? In the U.S. alone over 45 million women are currently going through "the change of life". Of those women approximately 80% experience vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats which last an average of 7.4 years. Many of these unpleasant symptoms are due to a reduction in estradiol. Other uncomfortable symptoms may include palpitations, headache, insomnia, mood swings, skin dryness, acne, facial hair, low libido, bladder infections, nausea, fatigue and cognitive changes. So what can American women due to sail more gracefully through this transition?
Interestingly, women in some cultures experience little or none of these symptoms. According to The Clinician's Handbook of Natural Medicine in a study of rural Mayan Indians, no women showed evidence of hot flashes, osteoporosis or other symptoms despite hormonal patterns identical to postmenopausal women in the United States. Researchers determined there is a direct correlation to the symptoms of menopause and the cultural view of menopause. When the cultural view is negative, such as in modern cultures that value youth and beauty, symptoms are more common. Whereas the Mayan women saw menopause as a positive event which provided them acceptance as a respected elder and a relief from childbearing. When menopause is viewed in a positive light, symptoms are less frequent and often non-existent.
It's also no surprise that regular physical exercise will decrease the intensity and frequency of hot flashes, possibly by increasing endorphins. Exercise will also elevate your mood and decrease your risk of osteoporosis especially with a bit of load-bearing in your workout. The good news is you only need about 3.5 hours each week to make a significant improvement in your hot flashes. (Pizzorno, Murray and Joiner-Bey, n.d.)
Another cultural group that experiences far fewer menopause symptoms than their American counterparts are Japanese women. This has been attributed to their much higher intake of phytoestrogens from plants. Phytoestrogens act like estrogens found in our bodies. They are present in foods such as soybeans, tofu, miso, flax seeds, pomegranates, and dates. Other excellent foods to consume during menopause are dandelion greens, watercress, wild yams, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, kelp, salmon with bones, and sardines. (Balch, 2000) In a randomized-controlled study, after 16 weeks, a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet rich in omega-3 reduced vasomotor symptoms frequency in postmenopausal women more than the lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet rich in extra virgin olive oil. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31132980)
High quality supplements can offer some support in obtaining nutrients to calm symptoms during menopause. Not big on chewing anchovies and sardines? Look for a USP certified source of omega 3's such as EPA/DHA Marine softgels by Premier Research Labs which guarantees purity. They also offer an advanced menopause support formula, Radiant Woman, which contains fenugreek seed extract, Eurycoma longifolia, pumpkin seed powder, organic saw palmetto berry, organic maca, fermented cordyceps, and American ginseng. According to an article by Natural Health News, data published in Phytotherapy Research indicated that hot flashes decreased by 48% in women taking a standardized extract of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum). Other benefits of the herb were improved vaginal dryness, and decreased irritability, anxiety, night sweats, mood swings, insomnia, and headaches. According to the researchers: “Supplementation of 1000 mg of FHE [fenugreek extract] for 90 days was found to offer hormonal balance by significantly enhancing the estradiol levels, an estrogen that was shown to play a key role in menopausal discomforts. A significant enhancement in serum calcium and Hb [iron] levels was also observed among the subjects who consumed FHE. “Moreover,” they add, “FHE supplementation for 90 days was found to be safe with no adverse effects as shown by the hematological and serum biochemical parameters.” Fenugreek is also rich in phytoestrogens.
In conclusion, a positive outlook on menopause, regular exercise, a plant based diet high in omega 3's and high quality fish oils and some carefully selected supplements can have a significant impact on the reduction or elimination of many uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause.
Pizzorno, J., Murray, M. and Joiner-Bey, H. (n.d.). The Clinician's handbook of natural medicine. 2nd ed. St. Louis: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, pp.476-491.
Balch, P. (2000). Prescription for nutritional healing. 3rd ed. New York: Penguin, pp.511-516.
O, R., & al., E. (n.d.). Women in love: Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet rich in omega-3 improves vasomotor symptoms in postmenopausal women. An exploratory randomized controlled ... - pubmed - ncbi.
Fenugreek supplement cools hot flashes. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.naturalhealthnews.uk/herbal-remedies/2016/09/fenugreek-supplement-cools-hot-flashes/