Hot flashes are described as sudden waves of heat that primarily affects the head and neck region when blood vessels near the surface of the skin dilate. Some women can predict when they are going to have a hot flash or even the duration and frequency.
During a hot flash, the heart rate increases. The woman begins to react to the heat by perspiring usually on the upper lip or forehead, and some women fan themselves with their hand, a fan, magazine or whatever is available to generate cool air.
Following a hot flash, flushing or redness occurs underneath the skin and for many the body temperature drops as women experience a chill as the body struggles to regain its normal temperature. Some women also experience nighttime hot flashes or night sweats.
Some of the most unpleasant symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats, have long been believed to originate in the ovaries. This theory is popular because women experience relief from hot flashes once they replace their lost estrogen.
The most recent theory indicates hot flashes start in the brain because the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland stop reacting normally to estrogen. This occurs because estrogen production affects the part of the brain that controls the body’s temperature. The theory deduces that the drop in estrogen confuses the hypothalamus which is referred to as the body’s thermostat and results in making the body too hot.
Hot flashes can be triggered by spicy food, dairy products, meat products, hot drinks, alcohol, sugar, smoking, caffeine, diet pills, stress, hot weather, hot showers, hot beds, hot rooms, hot tubs, saunas, tobacco, marijuana, anxiety, stress and anger. Women should avoid fried, rich, spicy and sugary foods because they can develop heartburn, acid reflux, and gallstones. Hot flashes are more common in the evening and during hot weather with the most common times identified for hot flashes between six and eight in the morning and six to ten at night.
If you can identify what triggers your hot flashes, that is a good indication of survival during an attack. It is also advisable to keep a record of when your hot flashes happen and what you were eating or doing, or how you were feeling at the time in order to be able to predict when and how the may occur.
The best way to beat a hot flash is naturally. The medical profession has generally ignored natural, less risky remedies for hot flashes to Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Recent studies have shown that medication is not always helpful. However, you should always begin with the least aggressive approach to treating menopausal symptoms which would be natural remedies.
There are some natural remedies that provide relief for menopausal symptoms, such as isoflavones found in soybeans. Isoflavones is similar to the hormone estrogen and when ingested, stimulates estrogen production. Although study results are not entirely consistent, isoflavones from soy and red clover have been found to be helpful for symptoms of menopause.
Bioflavonoids are chemicals found in citrus fruits that have been shown to protect capillaries and other small blood vessels. Bioflavonoids, when taken with Vitamin C, have been found to strengthen and stabilize the capillaries and other small blood vessels which can prevent hot flashes from occurring. The effect on hot flashes may be due to the similarity between certain bioflavonoids and our bodies own estrogens.
Vitamin E supplementation has also been shown to significantly reduce hot flashes. Clinical trials reported that vitamin E controlled flushing in more than 50% of the cases. It is thought that vitamin E may act as an estrogen substitute, thereby reducing the intensity of hot flashes.
Some other herbal supplements that have shown to reduce hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause are: bioflavonoid supplements, evening primrose oil (also used for PMS symptoms), ginseng, black cohosh, chickweed tincture, vitex agnus castii, blue cohosh, dong quai, wild yam root, natural progesterone, licorice root, false unicorn, lachesis, pulsatilla and sarsaparilla. Additionally, other alternative remedies that women can benefit from for relief of hot flashes are sage tea, acupuncture, meditation and biofeedback.
Functional health beverages containing certain fruit or vegetables with the nutrients polyphenols, flavenols and phytosterols also contain estrogen like chemicals that can reduce menopause symptoms.
Testimonials received from functional health beverage users state positive results from menopausal and PMS symptoms when consuming functional health beverages.
It is important when using herbs and vitamins to pay attention to our bodies’ responses and to remember that natural doesn’t mean we can take large amounts of a substance without thinking of side effects. It is recommended to obtain advice from someone who is familiar with herbs and vitamins for the correct dosages.
Information in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to act as a substitute for medical advice provided by a qualified health care provider, nor is any information on this topic intended to diagnose, treat, care or prevent any diseases. Statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.
By: Janice Willingham
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