A couple years ago, I noticed my mom suddenly fanning herself, pumping open the collar of her shirt, and then needing to leave the room. I knew about hot flashes, but didn't realize my mom got them or that so many women are affected by this nasty little affliction.
Because I have believed Tai Chi to be The Great Panacea of the world, I started reading up on hot flashes to help mom and some of my female students.
Seemingly, the big trigger is stress.
Money, family, work, love and sex are usually the main topics adults stress over.
Evidently, nothing works. Black cohosh and most other pills and caplets can work for a few women, but there is no product that works across the board. Web sites like this give product reviews, but they are designed purely to make money for the site owner:
Forget Hormone Replacement Therapy. The risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, dementia and blood clots far outweighs any benefits. This should be a last resort, when you've tried everything else.
After more than 20 years of research on hot flashes, Dr. Robert Freedman suggests that hot flashes are triggered when a woman's core body temperature rises slightly (this is the temperature deep within the body, not what a regular thermometer measures).
A professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Freedman says, "Ordinarily, the rise wouldn't cause much discomfort. But in menopausal women, we think their tolerance for small increases in core body temperature, above what we call the thermoneutral zone, is greatly reduced. When that zone is breached, the result is flushing and sweating."
Dr. Freedman and many other experts are now recommending "Paced Respiration" for its awesome effectiveness and complete lack of down side.
"Our studies show that slow, deep breathing can reduce the frequency of hot flashes by about 50 percent. Women who've been trained to use this technique as soon as they feel a flush coming on are often able to abort the hot flash or at least reduce its severity."
"The average breathing rate is 15 to 16 cycles (inhaling and exhaling) per minute," he notes. "But with training, women can slow their breathing down to seven or eight cycles per minute which can significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes."
I created an online instructional video: Taoist Breathing for Hot Flashes. It is ten times better than the instructions experts offer for "paced respiration."
I e-mailed the link to Dr. Freedman and he said, "That's a great idea."