Hot flushes (or flashes) and night sweats are a very well known symptom of menopause. They happen when blood vessels close to the skin dilate to cool.
The root cause of hot flushes is not clear. What is known is that the part of the brain that senses and controls body temperature (and other body functions) is the hypothalamus.
During the menopause, hormone levels are disrupted, particularly falling progesterone levels. Although not fully understood, scientists think that this fall causes a glitch in the way the hypothalamus senses body temperature, making it think that you are too hot.
This causes a response designed to cool the body down. More blood goes to the skin (one of the causes of hot flushes and reddening of the skin) and sweat glands start working (the menopausal sweat).
The sudden feeling of heat appears from nowhere and seems to spread through your body. They can appear at any time and if they turn up at night are known as night sweats. A flush can cause redness, sweating and sometimes palpitations. The incidence and severity, like all menopause symptoms, varies from woman to woman.
Hot flushes are at best slightly inconvenient, and at worst so severe that they cause serious disruption for some women. They can occur as often as several times an hour – not good for that silk blouse, but there are plenty of natural ways you can try to reduce them.
Keep a diary of your hot flushes and see if there are any patterns or you notice any triggers. These may be caffeine, hot and spicy foods, alcohol or stress. Smoking may also trigger hot flushes.
Cut down on caffeine and hot spicy foods.
Wear clothes and choose bedsheets that wick away sweat, particularly those night sweats which leave you feeling cold and clammy afterwards. For natural fabrics try bamboo yarn which is naturally wicking. Avoid cotton as the moisture stays close to your skin.
Keep your rooms cool and sleep with a window open if possible
If you are a smoker then giving up the habit will benefit you in more ways than just hot flushes.
Natural progesterone cream. I am a huge fan of this and know from experience that it is extremely effective in getting rid of hot flushes
Red clover provides a rich source of isoflavones (water soluble chemicals which act like oestrogen – known as phytoestrogens). It is available in tablet form, tea bags and dried flowers which can be taken as an infusion
Black cohosh used by native Americans for many years since it was discovered it can help reduce menstrual cramps and menopause symptoms
Sage has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. Sage tea has may uses not least of which is to reduce hot flushes and menopausal sweats. Sage is also available in tablet form.
Evening primrose oil has many benefits for menopausal women including lessening the effects of hot flushes
Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises all help reduce the stress that can be a trigger for hot flushes. Try a minute of slow deep breathing. 6-15 breaths per minute is ideal. We are great fans of Tapping, also known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) helps and there is now an excellent app you can download for free that helps to deal with stress. Nick Ortner, who is The Tapping Solution founder, and a favourite of ours, posted the following;
“The easiest way to start tapping and to always have it right at your fingertips is to download our free app. Seriously, it is free – and there is a ton of free content available as soon as you sign up.”