a female construction worker wiping her brow while having a hot flash, postmenopausal hormones

Q. Help! My menopausal hot flashes are becoming unbearable and debilitating. I have tried many remedies. Some helped a little (like cutting down on caffeine), but others, like soy, did nothing.

I work with liver transplant patients, and the specialists say that the herb black cohosh can damage the liver. That’s why I’m afraid to try it. I finally broke down and tried an estrogen patch my doctor prescribed. I had an adverse reaction to it in less than a week. What can you recommend?

A. Although there are reports of liver problems associated with black cohosh, this appears to be an uncommon complication. A new study suggests that a patented pine bark extract can help ease hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. The compound is Pycnogenol, derived from the French maritime pine.

The study included 155 women aged 45 to 55. After six months of treatment with Pycnogenol or placebo, those treated with the pine bark extract had significantly fewer symptoms and lower cholesterol levels than those taking placebo (Acta Obstet. Gynecol. Scand. Aug. 2007). It may be worth a try.

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  1. RL

    I’m 46 years old and for the past 7 years I have been getting hot flushes. They have gotten worse over the past couple of months and I have missed a few periods. Is this the menopause? My doctor says I’m too young and blood test came back normal including thyroid tests and kidney tests is there anything else that could be causing these symptoms?

  2. michelle

    could be the hormones that are in the dairy. dairy cattle are given hormones to increase their milk production, and just like a human mother to child (in breast milk which is what cow milk IS) it gets passed to the people that drink it.

  3. csriz

    Thanks to everyone who has posted here. My new Doctor refused to refill my HRT prescription until I stop smoking. I am trying but in the meantime after a month off the HRT I am having hot flashes all day long as well as at night.
    Have been researching natural products and happened upon this sight. I’m feeling very confident that one of your suggestions will work and I will be able to be comfortable until I can go to my doctor and say “I quit smoking”. However, if one of these remedies you have suggested works I will not return the HRT.
    Thank you again.
    I am so glad I found this sight!

  4. Steff

    If you are experiencing hot flashes, PLEASE try this. It worked for me, thank goodness, in two days. I hope I did not jinx myself. It’s Apple Cider Vinegar, I bought the store brand. In an 8 oz glass of water, add 2 tablespoons of ACV. I have my “cocktail” in the morning and one at night.
    I was having flashes once an hour, now I am having maybe four a day and they are not as bad as they were before! Such a relief. I don’t know how long I should do this, but it is my new BFF. Good luck!

  5. Lorna

    After reading your comments. I’d like to suggest 2 spoonsful of apple cider vinegar (with the mother – dregs) in a glass of water in the morning and before going to bed. I’m using Bragg organic apple cider vinegar brand.
    No other treatment has worked for me. I’ve tried all products from the shops except HRT. Soy milk, tofu, vitamins, menopause herbal treatments.
    I came across a link that suggested Apple cider vinegar about two months ago. Some women said that the problem had gone with the first dose, but it took me a bit over a week to stop all hot flashes.My hot flashes were really intense and my torso and nape used to become all wet.
    I hope this helps my friends.

  6. nancy

    I’ve been suffering a lot of hot flashes since I entered menopause my doctor says she cant prescribe any medication, I’ve been going on web sites looking for information and I was just reading all these comments I’m going to try PYCNOGENOL to see if I can have my hot flashes gone cause its horrible that’s for the information.

  7. It's erode

    Sage capsules works for hot flashes – from my own experience. One tablet a day lasts 24 hours. Health food stores carry it – all natural

  8. David W.

    How are you now after taking the phynogenol?
    How much taken each day?

  9. PAS

    I have been suffering hot flashes for several years. I have noticed that I will get an intense hot flash soon after eating any sugar or anything with sugar in it. The same goes for grain. So I am guessing that the type of carbs that are in grain products and sugars bring on hot flashes. I have never had that problem with fruit and vegetables.
    I have been putting up with them thinking they would eventually go away. After 5 years of this I am just sick of it and I am going to do what I can to put a stop to it. I have had enough. I feel for y’all. It is as bad as you say.
    Thanks to everyone for all the advice. I will be trying them one at a time to see what works for me. I’ll tell you what helps.

  10. MKC

    I’m 64 and went off Estradiol that I had been taking for years because I simply didn’t want to be beholding to any pharmaceutical product for my health and well-being. The resulting hot flashes are almost debilitating in frequency and severity. After reading about pycnogenol last night I ordered some from my online pharmacy and am excited to find something that everyone (apparently) who has taken it found relief with. I also have high cholesterol so maybe I’ll find that will go down as well! Yay!

  11. GC

    I am waking up 5 or 6 times a night and can’t take it anymore!!! Husband sleeps in another room so I don’t disturb him. This is not the life I want or deserve! 63 years old and still having hot flashes/night sweats for about 10 years. Only when I was on HRT or bio identical treatment I was in HEAVEN!
    I am going to try the pycnogenol, as nothing else (natural) works for me. Doctor wanted to put me on anti depressant meds, but I refused. Too many side effects.
    I still feel the bio identical hormone therapy is safer than synthetic hormones, but my doctor won’t let me use that anymore either.
    Good Grief, Charlie Brown, isn’t there something they can come up with that really works!!!

  12. Connie

    I also have occiptal neurologia and take premarin and synthroid. I use to get the headaches/migraines if the estrogen amount wasn’t right. But once I found the right premarin dose, it didn’t make the migraines work. I also do something called “Radio Frequency Ablation” by an anesthesiologist in a pain clinic. This deadens a nerve that gets pinched which causes occiptal neurolgia pain. The nerve regenerates but then I have the procedure done again in a year. Insurance has to pay for it.
    Anyway though, it is possible to take HRT with this condition. It just took awhile to find the right dosage. In fact, I take TOO MUCH estrogen, have been on it for 20 years and need to try lower my amount as it is making my synthroid for hypothyroidism a problem.

  13. mjm

    Wow… and I thought I was the only one suffering so with hot flashes, waking up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding away, feeling like my body temperature was out of control, only to kick off the covers to freeze long enough to get cooled off, turning the pillow over and over, putting back on only the sheets… only to do this 5-10 times a night! Marina, I hear you!
    I have tried many supplements, do not want to take drug related remedies, want to do it naturally if at all possible. The one lady who spoke of yams and having her menses back, I dunno if I want to go that far. There are advantages to that part, no surprises!
    I have noticed the difference when I am not eating right (low fat, light carbs, low sugar, more veges & fruits, lean proteins) and not exercising – sitting around watching TV and being on the computer too much, that the hot flashes seem to increase with more frequency. Every time I hear of a woman doing something off her rocker, I wonder if she too, had hot flashes!

  14. Marina

    I am 71 years old and have been getting the most severe hot flashes for the last two years. Not one of my doctors had a solution. During a recent emotional and disturbing night when sleep was was cut by these flashes and at one point, I thought “this must be how you can go mad”. So violent were they that the oncoming “flash” felt like a sound, a “bang”.
    My sweating day or night leaves me with sweat dripping down my face and neck, hair dripping with sweat and it just not only embarrassing but such an annoyance.
    Twenty years ago I started on Premarin 1,25 mg and Progesterone 5mg. I took it roughly for 15 years, then my doctor cut the strength by half. I was fine with that for awhile, until early in 2009 these very strong flashes started. My doctors did not have a remedy.
    I am at a point were I don’t know what to do. A recent visit to my family doctor who suggested I try sweet potato extract, but reading about it, am not sure. I also could not find it in my area.
    Two months ago I stopped taking both hormones since it was not helping me at all. Also, Shortly after I began with the hormone replacement therapy, I had an occular vein occlusion, which has left me blind in one eye. I take medication for high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, plus 81 mg. aspirin. Pycnoginol sounds like a remedy. Is this by prescription?

  15. AW

    I was in denial about my hot flashes because I thought 42 was surely too young… When a neighbor and I decided to try the South Beach diet – essentially cutting out all sugar, then slowly working natural sugars back in, and monitoring carbohydrate intake carefully, both of us eventually noticed that we were no longer experiencing the hot flashes and other symptoms! I “fell off the wagon” and binged on chocolate ice cream one evening, and the next day, suffered a couple of short “hot spots.”
    I’m a believer now! My whole family is eating healthier because I’m keeping us away from refined sugars and eating a lot more protein and vegetables!

  16. Shirl

    I started having major hot flashes after the passing of my Mom in May 2008. I can only guess menopause has kicked into effect… I have tried several “remedies”… to no avail. I few days ago I typed in “debilitating hot flashes”, and some how came to this site. I stopped the other “supplements” before I found and started “pycnogenol”. It’s only been 2 days now, still sweating like a pig… though I started 50 mg a day, wanted to make sure no effects on my heart… seems ok, will up the mgs tomorrow to 1/50mg twice a day… wish me luck…

  17. fbh

    In the LA Times 06.14.2010 I read about Pycnogenol in the column “People’s Pharmacy”. Where can I buy Pycnogenol?

  18. Linda

    I am 61 and my sister is 57 and we both just recently started taking the pine bark and it has WORKED, it is GREAT and we both have tried everything and I mean everything and the pine bark extract has brought relief to both of us…Good Luck

  19. marie w

    I was taking premarin and Provera in one tablet low dosage . My Heart specialist told me to stop taking it. I quit 6 months ago and started getting hot flashes right away. I am almost 70 and 1/2 so I don’t want to run the risk of damaging my heart my Dr says it isn’t good for your heart.
    The hot flashes are very annoying. They come on me in a department store, shopping, at a market, laying in bed. Nothing helps . It sounds like it is very common for older women to experience them. I am disappointed I thought by this age I would be finished with them.
    It seems that this is common I have read a lot of women complaining that are over 60.
    Any helpful hints?

  20. MMH

    I take Synthroid.112 for hypothyroidism and Lisinopril 10/12.5 HCTZ for high blood pressure. I cannot take HRT because of a condition that I have called “Occipital Neuralgia” (severe headaches). My neurologist says the HRT would bring on more headaches. I am very interested in Pycnogenol, but am wondering if I can take it with my above mentioned meds. Thank you.

  21. mkhs

    I use a Bio Identical Natural Progesterone Cream called Happy PMS. Dr John Lee wrote a book called “What your doctor may not tell you about Menopause”. Natural Progesterone comes from wild yams but has been converted to progesterone by enzymes in the lab. I would say the reason the wild yams helped some women is that they have some adrenal issues. Dr Lee says that wild yams will not convert to progesterone in the body because we don’t have the enzymes that it take to convert them. I am 51 and in full blown menopause…..I have NO HOT FLASHES or night sweats. My mind is clear as it can be. I feel totally balanced. Check out Dr. Lee’s books from your local library. It will make sense to you.

  22. JB

    I have a food allergy to potatoes. Are Yams in the potato family? Will I also be allergic to Yams? I hear that Yams or the Wild Yam supplement can help Hot Flashes and some other problems due to Menopause.

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