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Hot Flashes--Treatments that May Help

By Expert HERWriter
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Hot Flashes related image Photo: Getty Images

Hot flashes have been a constant problem for women in the United States. Each month there are articles about the best treatments for women experiencing hot flashes, and most of them look at taking soy supplements or hormone replacement. I have found, working with women in my practice, that the most effective treatments to reduce hot flashes require behavioral change and adrenal support supplementation.

In the March 3, 2011 online addition of "Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society" there was an article about a study that measured and compared the benefits of hormone replacement, soy supplementation and a placebo for treating hot flashes. The study concluded that hormone replacement therapy reduced the incidence of hot flashes slightly more than soy supplementation. Both were more useful in reducing the number of hot flashes than the placebo. In 2002, the NIH Nurses Health Study conclusively showed taking hormone replacement therapy can increase the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. This means that women who decide to take hormone replacement need to be placed on this treatment using the lowest dose for the shortest period of time in order to not increase the risk for the other diseases.

As a physician, I find it disturbing to put a patient on any medication that increases the risk of other diseases. As a naturopathic physician I always look towards the full spectrum of treatment plans, not just medications or supplements as the answer. In my practice I have been able to reduce hot flashes by working with women on behavioral changes including improving the quality of the diet, improving quality of sleep and reducing stress responses. For example, plant-based diets increase the nutrients in the diet. Plant-based diets also tend to reduce any extra weight on the body, which is important because excess fat produces extra estrogen in the body and creates a hormonal imbalance including increased hot flashes. The fiber in a plant-based diet helps to bind to extra estrogens and draw them out of the body, which can help balance hormones.

Improper sleep patterns can cause hormonal imbalances as well.

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EmpowHER Guest

I am an African-American, 49 years old and at age 25 had a complete hysterectomy due to an infection. I was immediately put on HRT's due to hot flashes; but after 2 years I took myself off for no other reason than I did not see/feel the benefit (I was no longer having hot flashes). After ~13 years hot flashes returned with a vengeance (I believe my biological clock kicked in). I had hot flashes every 30 minutes of the day and after trying soy and some other remedies I went crying for HRT after suffering for a year. Weight gain, sleep deprivation and all that goes with menopause - I was miserable. I've lost weight, I sleep better and am in a better mood. I'm not back to 100% and don't expect to be; but long for the day I can go off of the HRT. I will try for a month periodically; but eventually the hot flashes return with the same 30 minute frequency.

January 30, 2013 - 1:04pm
EmpowHER Guest

I've had hot flashes for 14yrs and have tried everything but HRT. I eat well and get 8 hours of sleep. Stress is a factor but even that is getting better. I refuse to take HRTs due to the side effects. Is this ever going to stop?

January 30, 2013 - 9:20am

I never had the real problem that most of my Sisters have because I have always been a herb/vitamin taker and the owner of my locally owned health food store told me to take: Black Cohosh, Dong Quai and Mex. Yam Root, which I did and had only minor "flashes". I have never taken anything since the menses ended when I was about 55 (now I'm 70).
My GYN has now put me on Vit. D, but I am on no medications. I do essential oils and take my vitamins/supplements.
Natural for me works!
Thanks, Princeline

March 17, 2011 - 8:23am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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