Hot flushes and cold flashes are two of a large constellation of symptoms that may appear for a woman as she becomes menopausal. Other uncomfortable symptoms of menopause are vaginal dryness, mood swings, irritability, loss of energy, insomnia and depression. Because conventional hormone replacement therapy causes serious side effects, many women are seeking alternative methods of treatment for their symptoms. Various herbal remedies provide relief for hot flushes and cold flashes; however, herbs can produce side effects. It’s always best to check with a natural health practitioner or specialist before using unfamiliar herbs.
Adding phytoestrogens to your diet may lessen the occurrence of hot flushes, according to a study preformed in 2005 at the University of Naples, Italy. Researchers found that women who received phytoestrogens, or plant-based estrogens, had a lower incidence of hot flushes, vaginal dryness and other menopausal symptoms. Phytoestrogens are high in isoflavones are found in foods such as soy products, nuts, apples, seeds and legumes. The recommended serving amount is 45 grams of phytoestrogens daily. Some people are sensitive to soy products and may experience stomach upset. Fermented soy products are easier on the digestive tract and also contain phytoestrogens.
Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil both are high in phytoestrogens and can help in controlling hot flushes during menopause. Flaxseeds contain both isovlavones and lignans, two types of phytoestrogens that help balance hormone levels. Flaxseeds are also high in the heart-healthy compound, alpha-linolenic acid, which is converted by the body into Omega-3 fatty acids. The increase of Omega-3 fatty acids may bring additional health and heart benefits. Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil should never be heated. The seeds should be freshly ground in a small spice or coffee grinder immediately before use. All commercially ground flaxseed is usually rancid, so grind your own before adding them to smoothies or sprinkling on salads.
Black cohosh is a traditional herbal remedy used for hundreds of years to control hot flushes and other menstrual and menopausal symptoms experienced as a result of hormonal imbalances. This herb affects the hypothalamus — the area of the brain responsible for controlling the body’s temperature, according to the University of Connecticut Health Center. Do not use black cohosh if you are pregnant or nursing, or for other menstrual hormonal problems if you are contemplating becoming pregnant. Black cohosh can cause side effects such as headaches, stomach upsets and weight gain. Your dose may need to be adjusted if you experience any of these symptoms. Contact your natural health practitioner for guidance.
Dong quai is a Chinese herb used frequently to control hot flushes. Dong quai may also be helpful in reducing other symptoms related to menopause such as irritability, insomnia and vaginal dryness. Dong quai is available in health foods stores and Chinese herbal apothecaries. Be sure to purchase only from well-known brands and in stores with high product turnover to ensure you receive the freshest, most potent herbal product.
Red clover has been used traditionally to treat many health issues related to the female cycle, including hot flashes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The herb is high in estrogen-based isoflavones, a plant-based compound that mimics the action of estrogen in a woman’s body. Red clover may relieve your hot flashes, heighten your mood, relieve vaginal dryness and bring overall relief from many menopausal symptoms. Although more research is needed to uphold these claims, hundreds of years of anecdotal reports substantiate the positive benefits of this herb for women’s health issues.
During menopause and peri-menopause, cold flashes are often as much of a problem for some women as are hot flashes. Both cold and hot flashes are the result of hormone imbalances and shifting hormone levels. If you suffer from cold flashes then a pinch of the warming herb, cayenne pepper, may help bring your internal thermometer back into balance. Cayenne pepper is both a culinary herb and a medicinal herb, and has warming qualities, according to The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. One of the best ways to use cayenne pepper is in tea. Boil a cup of water and add a pinch of cayenne to taste and a spoonful of honey. Cayenne pepper can create a very hot sensation in the mouth and throat and caution should be used when adding it to meals and tea. Adjust its quantity slowly as you get used to its warming effects to relieve cold flashes.
University of Maryland Medical Center: Dong Quai http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/dong-quai-000238.htm Minerva Ginecologica; The Effects of phytoestrogen Therapy on the Endometrium in Postmenopausal Women; L. Caserta, Oct. 2005 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16205600?ordinalpos=5&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum University of Maryland Medical Center: Red Clover http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/red-clover-000270.htm The People’s Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies; Joe Graedon MS and Sifu Teresa Graedon; 2002 The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Everyday Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing; James Duke; 2002 University of Connecticut Health Center: Major CAM Treatments for Menopause http://fitsweb.uchc.edu/student/selectives/AleagiaMercer-Falkoff/FINAL%20MENOPAUSE/PamDocInsert.htm
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