Q. When I started suffering hot flashes, my gynecologist recommended soy instead of hormones. Although adding soy to my diet did not reduce my hot flashes and night sweats, my thyroid levels got worse each time they were checked and I had to increase my dose of levothyroxine.
When I gave up on soy, I had to cut my dose of thyroid hormone to stay within the normal range. Now what can I do for my hot flashes?
A. The effects of soy isoflavones on thyroid activity are confusing. Animal research suggests that soy may interfere with thyroid function, particularly if iodine levels are low (Environmental Health Perspectives, June S-3, 2002).
In a recent study soy did not help hot flashes but actually made them worse (Archives of Internal Medicine, Aug. 8/22, 2011). To ease hot flashes without hormones, you might consider Pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract), black cohosh with St. John’s wort or tropical yams (Dioscorea). We are sending you our Guide to Menopause for more details on these and other options.
Some women are enthusiastic about vitamin E: “Five years ago, when I was suffering mightily from hot flashes and night sweats, I did some research and came across vitamin E as a remedy. I tried it and the flashes stopped entirely for over 10 months.”