Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, CLE, shares natural remedies for hot flashes to help you keep your cool.
Did you know that 75 percent of menopausal women experience hot flashes? If you can relate, you’ll want to keep reading to discover the best natural remedies for hot flashes.
But first: the what and why behind this common symptom of menopause.
What are hot flashes?
By definition, hot flashes are an intense feeling of sudden warmth, mostly in the upper body. Hot flashes can cause sweating, blushing, and irritability. Also, they’re sometimes referred to as night sweats when they occur while sleeping.
Fortunately, there are natural remedies for hot flashes that require only moderate lifestyle changes.
Causes of Hot Flashes
It’s understood that hormonal imbalance is the most common cause for hot flashes. However, there’s little research that pinpoints exactly how hormone changes link to these heated episodes.
In any case, most research points to drops in estrogen levels as the leading culprit. When estrogen levels decrease, they trigger the hypothalamus (our internal thermostat) to overly react to changes in body temperature.
Next, a 2015 study suggests that severe and frequent hot flashes can also be a result of ongoing stress. In addition, risk factors such as smoking and excess weight are noted for increasing the likelihood of hot flashes.
Yet despite hormonal imbalances and known risk factors, the science is still unclear as to why some women experience hot flashes and why others don’t.
8 NATURAL REMEDIES FOR HOT FLASHES
Thankfully, there are valid natural, home remedies for hot flashes that actually work. Here are the best among them.
1. DIETARY ESTROGEN
Mentioned earlier is the connection between estrogen levels and hot flashes. A natural way to mirror estrogen in the body is by integrating soy into your diet.
Soy contains isoflavones, a plant-based compound belonging to the phytoestrogen family. In the body, phytoestrogens behave like estrogen. Essentially, soy isoflavones mimic estrogen by binding to the same cell receptors that estrogen normally would.
In fact, an analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials found that phytoestrogens appear to lessen the frequency of hot flashes with minimal side effects.
You can find soy in many plant-based foods like tofu, tempeh, and soybeans like edamame. Similarly, flaxseeds and dried fruits like prunes and apricots are also high in phytoestrogens.
2. Black Cohosh
Black cohosh is a staple dietary remedy for menopause relief.
It’s s a member of the buttercup family and has strong evidence supporting its benefits for women experiencing hot flashes. Conversely, there’s little understanding of the mechanisms behind black cohosh’s desirable effects.
Despite the mystery, researchers continue to recommend black cohosh for this common menopause symptom. In fact, one study found that women who took 20 milligrams of black cohosh for eight weeks experienced significantly fewer episodes and less severe hot flashes.
That said, it’s important to note that no studies have looked at the long-term effects of supplementing with black cohosh. However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health found that most people can take black cohosh for up to a year without serious side effects.
Next, chasteberry (aka vitex), a prized herb for hormonal balance, also has the potential to reduce hot flashes.
A 2019 study found that women who supplemented with chasteberry experienced relief from menopausal symptoms, with hot flashes among them.
An earlier study also found benefits from applying a chasteberry/essential oil cream. Impressively, 33 percent of women cited major improvements in hot flashes and night sweats, while 36 percent cited moderate relief.
That said, several other studies found no differences between the chasteberry and placebo groups, so the official verdict is still out.
4. The Mediterranean Diet
Several studies also bring up the benefits of following the Mediterranean diet for hot flashes. However, the findings show mixed results.
Some researchers suggest that study participants may experience benefits due to the weight loss associated with eating a Mediterranean diet, rather than from dieting alone. On the other hand, some findings support that following a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce the occurrence of hot flashes.
Regardless, dietary intervention is highly recommended for hot flashes. Of all the diets out there, the Mediterranean diet proves to have many health benefits and is worth the try. In short, this diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, plant-based fats, beans, and whole grains.
Finally, hot and spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol can all be dietary triggers for hot flashes.
5. WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Many studies have found that hot flashes can be directly associated with women’s weight status during perimenopause and post menopause.
In fact, one study shows evidence that significant weight loss in overweight women may eliminate moderate to severe hot flash episodes.
6. VITAMIN E
In small doses, vitamin E is suspected to help with hot flash relief.
One study found that women who consumed 400 IUs of vitamin E for a month experienced significant differences in the severity of their hot flashes.
I suggest eating foods that pack vitamin E, including:
- sunflower seeds
- wheat germ
Bonus: Vitamin E isn’t only among the best natural remedies for hot flashes, but is also beneficial for skin health, stress, and oxidative stress.
7. KEEP IT COOL
As a reminder, dips in estrogen levels may cause sensitivities to temperature changes. For this reason, creating a comfortably cool environment is one of the best ways to stop hot flashes in their tracks.
Easy ways to maintain a cool environment include:
- opening windows for air circulation
- using an air conditioner
- keeping a fan nearby
If you can’t control the temperature around you, consider cool gel pads and dressing in removable layers. When possible, avoid unbreathable fabrics and opt for cotton.
Lastly, drinking cool beverages like iced water can also help lower your body temperature.
Implementing a mind-body approach may prove to be beneficial for easing hot flashes, since stress can be a trigger. In fact, scientists have studied the effects of different relaxation techniques on the frequency of hot flashes.
One study took a closer look at mindfulness meditation as a natural remedy. It found that meditation can improve coping outcomes in women experiencing hot flashes by improving sleep and stress levels.
Similarly, a 2018 study found evidence suggesting that mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques improved women’s degree of “bother” from hot flashes.
In addition to mindfulness meditation, yoga, walking, and breathing exercises are also excellent ways to de-stress.
In sum, there are quite a few natural remedies for hot flashes. The National Institute on Aging recommends implementing lifestyle changes for at least three months before seeking medical treatments.
But before diving into all of these lifestyle changes, understand your personal triggers for hot flashes by keeping a journal or log. Coupled with these tips, avoiding your known triggers may help you keep hot flashes under control.