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Holistic Approaches Can Help Hold Hot Flashes Down During Menopause

Some natural and non-drug approaches can help women deal with the symptoms of menopause, particularly the unpleasantness of hot flashes.

Most women will face the challenge of menopause sometime between 40 and 60. Many will be troubled by night sweats and hot flashes, and some will be so uncomfortable that they will seek treatment. In a careful analysis, researchers determined that a transdermal patch with the hormones estrogen and progesterone offers the best relief from hot flushes (Sarri et al, BJOG, online March 9, 2017). Scientists have tested lower-than-normal doses of these hormones and found they are effective for several years (Santoro et al, Menopause, March 2017).

Sadly, however, long-term use of hormones has numerous complications, so quite a few women prefer natural ways to hold hot flashes down during this period. There are a number of things that may be helpful.

Nonhormonal Ways to Manage Hot Flashes:

Q. At 46, I’m approaching the time to decide how to treat menopause. I know that hormone replacement is the usual recommendation, but I have read about the negative consequences of HRT.

I would like to know more about natural treatments for the loss of hormones. In a nutshell, what is your advice for someone who wants to use a holistic medicinal approach to treating menopause?

Herbal Medicines for Menopause:

A. Certain herbal medicines may well be helpful. A German study found a standardized black cohosh extract helpful against hot flashes in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial (Schellenberg et al, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, online Dec. 23, 2012). Soy isoflavones and black cohosh have both been shown to help more than placebo (Sarri et al, BJOG, online March 9, 2017). Chaste-tree berry (Vitex agnus-castus) and magnolia improve the effectiveness of isoflavones, particularly for night sweats and other sleep disturbances (De Franciscis et al, Nutrients, Feb. 13, 2017).

Pycnogenol, a product derived from maritime pine bark, has also been studied and found beneficial for sleep problems as well as hot flashes (Kohama & Negami, Journal of Reproductive Medicine, Jan-Feb. 2013). A minireview concluded that pycnogenol and maca both help cool hot flashes independently (Depypere & Comhaire, Maturitas, Feb. 2014).

Other Approaches to Menopause:

We are sending you our Guide to Menopause, with more information about these and other non-drug approaches to controlling menopausal symptoms. Exercise may sometimes trigger a hot flash, but overall regular exercisers might be less troubled with “power surges.” The evidence on this is not clear, however. In addition, researchers found inadequate evidence to support the use of meditation, mindfulness or relaxation to reduce hot flashes (Goldstein et al, Climacteric, April 2017). That’s disappointing, but women can still reap other benefits from relaxing, meditating or practicing mindfulness.

Reports from Readers:

Here are some reports from other readers.

JK likes black cohosh:

“I had great results using Black Cohosh. I was having hot flashes all day and even worse at night. They went on and on. A neighbor gave me some Black Cohosh to try and the next day I couldn’t believe it, as I experienced my first full day without hot flashes. I forgot to take it once and never again. I’ll never be without it.”

MVN is a fan of maca:

“I use maca in powder form dissolved in a small amount of water. This has stopped the hot flashes for me, and hope it works for you.”

Debby also relies on maca:

“I want to praise the benefits of maca for menopausal issues. I was having terrible night sweats, waking up every half hour during the night, and waking up every morning with what seemed to be a dark cloud over my head. I discovered maca accidentally on the Internet. Once I began taking it, within a few weeks my symptoms disappeared for good.

“Since I had such success with maca, I have recommended it to everyone I know who suffers from the issues that menopause brings with it, and all but one have experienced the same disappearance of their symptoms that I did. Try it!”

OBJoyfull endorses flaxseed:

“After at least 10 yrs. of hot flashes, I discovered that a tblsp. of ground flax seed completely stopped the the hot flashes. I mix it in yogurt with fruit & chopped nuts- delicious!”

Cathy prefers raspberry leaf tea:

“A cup of raspberry leaf tea a day has helped. It has to be real raspberry leaf, NOT raspberry flavoring. Very noticeable when I skipped a couple of days, so I know it is doing something!”

Revised 5/22/2017

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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