Q. I got my hot flashes under control by using cold-milled ground golden flaxseed. I started with as much as 4 tablespoons per day, adding the ground flaxseed to cereal in the morning and yogurt later in the day.
I later reduced my intake to 2 tablespoons daily. After about five weeks of using flaxseed, the hot flashes went away completely.
I decided to give soy milk a try because I have osteoporosis and I had read that soy is good for bones as well as menopausal symptoms like hot flashes. Three weeks later, my hot flashes are back. What a disappointment!
I’m going to cut out the soy and see if that helps. I’m pretty sure it’s the culprit.
A. Soy certainly has had a reputation for helping hot flashes, but it may be undeserved. A recent review of alternative treatments for menopausal hot flashes found that soy and red clover are no more effective than placebo (Climacteric, April, 2012). A study last year demonstrated that women taking soy actually experienced more hot flashes than those on placebo (Archives of Internal Medicine, Aug. 8/22, 2011).
We are sending you our Guide to Menopause, in which we discuss the pros and cons of estrogen therapy as well as many non-hormonal alternatives. Estrogen is certainly effective, but it can increase the risk of breast cancer. Doctors sometimes prescribe medications such as fluoxetine (Sarafem), gabapentin (Neurontin), paroxetine (Paxil) or venlafaxine (Effexor). These too may help, but they carry their own side effects and can be difficult to discontinue. Many women are enthusiastic about progesterone, but the evidence to support its use is equivocal (Maturitas, online April 25, 2012). We are delighted that flaxseed worked so well for you.