Sunday, 19 May 2013

Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes

Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes
Hot flashes as the name suggest is the subjective feeling of unbearable heat followed by sweating and irritability due to changes in the concentration of estrogen within the body of females and is reportedly the most common symptom of menopause experienced by women during peri-menopausal years and after menopause.

What causes hot flashes?

Hot flashes are caused by withdrawal of estrogen from the bodily systems due to cessation of ovarian cycles. Females achieve their ability to become pregnant and procreate after puberty that is achieved around 12 to 13 years of age. This is marked by onset of monthly ovarian cycles in which one or more eggs are released and matured and if unprotected intercourse is performed, there are fair chances of conception. However, when females approach 50, the cycles get irregular and infrequent (known as peri-menopausal period), ultimately reaching to a complete cessation of menstruation due to lack of estrogen in mid-40s to mid-50s.

What factors influence the severity of symptoms?

Moderate to severe hot flashes are experienced by women who develop abrupt estrogen withdrawal as a result of:

- Surgeries like hysterectomy

- History of smoking and alcohol dependence (2)

- Women of low socio-economic status

- African American descent

- Women with a history of breast cancer or chemotherapy with tamoxifen (Nolvadex).

What are some natural remedies to manage hot flashes?

Following are some common home remedies that are mostly employed by women to manage or treat hot flashes:

Lifestyle modifications:

Women who are physically active and dynamic experience less severe menopausal symptoms and hot flashes. Researchers suggest that stress relieving exercises and posture help in management of depression, anxiety and hot flashes in most women. Speak to a trainer to learn more about yoga, aerobics, meditation and stress- relieving exercises and postures. Other helpful tips are:

- Alcohol is strongly associated with hot flashes and reducing (or eliminating) alcohol from your daily routine helps in most cases.

- Healthcare providers suggest smoking cessation for management of hot flashes.

- Weight reduction by regular physical activity and diet modification decreased the intensity and severity of hot flashes.

- Wearing loose and dressing in layers keeps the core body temperature low, a strategy that helps in decreasing intensity of hot flashes.

- Research conducted by Vered Stearns (1) suggest that behavioral therapy and holistic methods of care like acupuncture helps tremendously in improving overall health and decreasing the symptoms of menopause (especially hot flashes).

Diet modifications:

Diet has a strong influence on the secretion, synthesis and release of chemical mediators. In addition, it also helps in supplying estrogen from exogenous sources that decrease the intensity of menopausal symptoms. Helpful diet modifications tips for management of hot flashes are:

- Limiting the intake of caffeinated beverages and hot/ spicy foods.

- Identify your own triggers and limit the exposure for best results.

Use of nutritional supplements
:

Various clinical studies have revealed that intensity and severity of hot flashes is more in malnourished or undernourished women. A research conducted by Barton (3) suggested that consumption of nutritional supplements like Vitamin E in a dose of 800 IU/day can decrease the frequency of hot flashes significantly as compared to the placebo control group. Other helpful remedies are:

- Soy and soy products:

So far, almost 10 randomized clinical trials have proved the efficacy and effectiveness of soy products in decreasing the intensity of hot flashes in women after menopause due to its high isoflavones content. However, prolonged use is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer due to estrogen like activity of soy.

- Magnesium:

Magnesium has long been known to support micro-metabolic processes and decrease the symptoms due to abnormal hormonal concentrations in the body. Magnesium supplements decreases the symptoms of PMS in reproductive aged women and decreased the severity of hot flashes in menopausal women.

Use of herbal supplements:

Herbal and nutritional supplements are helpful in improving the menopausal symptoms by replacing endogenous estrogen or by improving systemic detoxification that alleviates the symptoms. Most common herbal supplements that are effective for hot flashes are:

- Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are special compounds that are obtained from plant sources and mimic estrogen when gain access inside the female body. Research and statistical data indicates that women who consume more plant sources like red clover experience less severe symptoms

- Black cohosh:

Black cohosh is one of the popular supplements that has proven efficacy in the management of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. It is however suggested to avoid over- consumption in those with known liver disease.

- Ginseng:

Ginseng is one of the ancient Asian supplements that is used all over the world for optimal health and well- being. It is generally well tolerated by individuals of all age groups and has known efficacy in improving the sleep quality and to relieve anxiety, agitation and irritability (along with other mood disturbances that follow hot flashes in menopausal woman).

In addition to Ginseng, primrose oil ad gingko biloba also helps in decreasing post- menopausal symptoms. It is recommended to seek assistance from a healthcare provider before starting any herbal or medicinal agent for the management of hot flashes.

Although, most women respond to over the counter supplements, dietary managements and lifestyle modifications; however, you can always consult a healthcare provider for the optimal management of symptoms by hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  HRT (medroxyprogesterone acetate is consumed in a dose of 2.5 mg/day along with (conjugated equine estrogen in a dose of 0.625 mg/day) increases the risk of breast cancer significantly and therefore not a preferred treatment in most cases.

References:

Source: aliveberry

1. Stearns, V., & Loprinzi, C. L. (2003). New therapeutic approaches for hot flashes in women. J Support Oncol, 1(1), 11-21.

2. 5. Whiteman MK, Staropoli CA, Langenberg PW, Smoking, body mass, and hot flashes in midlife women. Obstet Gynecol 2003;101:264– 272.

3. Barton DL, Loprinzi CL, Quella SK, Prospective evaluation of vitamin E for hot flashes in breast cancer survivors. J Clin Oncol 1998;16:495–500.

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