Hot flushes along with night sweats are probably the most common symptom that women complain of when they are in menopause. The sudden feeling of warmth that builds up from inside of you and for some women they also start to sweat profusely. Hot flushes are not only uncomfortable they can also be quite embarrassing for most women. It is hard to explain in the corporate setting why you suddenly have sweat pouring off you and you are removing your layers of clothing in order to cool down. Hot flushes can also have other nice symptoms such as a racing heart and your face turns bright red to go along with the internal combustion that is happening.
It is thought that between 60% and 75% of women experience hot flushes in some form. For some women hot flushes happen irregularly and are fairly mild and only last a few seconds. For other the sensation can be extremely uncomfortable with heating, sweating, racing heart and can last for 30 minutes or longer at a time. Night Sweats are similar to hot flushes but the occur at night during sleep.
We are not clear on what the mechanism for the irregular overheating of the body is. It is believed that the hypothalamus (a gland in the brain) which is responsible for controlling out body temperature is influenced by our hormones and the drop in oestrogen can trigger the hypothalamus to respond in an unusual manner. It is thought that the hypothalamus senses that the body is overheating, and it heats the body up further to cause you to cool down quickly. Hot flushes tend to be worse in post-menopausal women when oestrogen levels remain low but can also occur on peri-menopausal women as their oestrogen levels rapidly decrease and then increase again.
While changes in oestrogen levels might be a trigger for hot flushes and night sweats the underlying cause is either stress or a liver that is not functioning at its optimal level. There are some things that you can do to help reduce or even eliminate your hot flushes and night sweats.
- Where possible wear light loose clothing
- Don’t rug up too much at night, loose cotton nightwear is best
- Flushing and night sweats often happen more after stressful and busy days, try to manage your energy and emotions during the day
- Regular exercise (not over-exercising) can reduce physical and emotional stress
- Keep a hot flush diary to see if you can work out your triggers
- Re-frame a hot flush to a power surge, see it as something positive – a sign that your body is asking you to look after yourself
- If you feel a hot flush starting try to stop and slow down your breathing, take a deep breath into your belly and a slow long breath out. Repeat this a few times
- Meditation is also a great way to reduce stress and calm down your mind
- Common herbs used in the management of hot flushes and night sweats are sage, zizyphus, motherwort, black cohosh and red clover (any over the counter remedies will contain these herbs)
- A simple home herb recipe is to chop up 6 sage leaves and soak overnight in lemon juice. In the morning strain and drink the juice. Repeat for the next week to 10 days and often your flushing and sweats will decrease. Do NOT continue this for more than 2 weeks without consulting a herbalist or naturopath
- It is important not to self-prescribe herbs, what works for one woman my not work for you. Please see a naturopath/herbalist for the right herbs for you
- Avoid excessively spicy foods
- Avoid very hot drinks or foods
- Avoid coffee (this is not only a hot drink it also stimulates the adrenals)
- Limit your alcohol intake, alcohol makes flushing worse particularly at night
- Keep well hydrated
- Increase foods high in phyto-eostrogens eg organic tofu, tempeh, flaxseed, garlic, chick peas, pumpkin kernals, green or mung beans.
- Seed cycling (see this article I wrote)
- Clary Sage, Peppermint and Lavender oil blend
- Use as a spray when you feel a flush come on
- Use as a roller to reduce stress
- Add to bath with some Epsom salts
There are some specific nutrients that will support the adrenals and reduce hot flushes
- Magnesium, most women are deficient in this nutrient
- Vit B5, B6, B3, Vit C and Vit E (all in a good quality multi-vitamin)
- Evening Primrose Oil works well for some women
Every woman’s journey through this stage of life is different so it is important to have a personalised approach to managing hot flushes and night sweats. If you have tried some of the suggestions above and are still unable to stop your hot flushes or if you have other symptoms associated with menopause please book a complimentary Discovery Call with me to see if I am able to assist you in feeling great.