Most women going through menopause suffer from hot flashes. These surges of uncomfortable heat, flushing and sweating can range from disconcerting to debilitating. Some women experience such flushes many times a day; others become hot and bothered numerous times an hour. While there are pharmaceutical treatments that can help ease hot flashes, many women would prefer natural approaches.
How Can You Ease Hot Flashes Naturally?
Q. I have been taking black cohosh for hot flashes for about six months with great success. Hot flashes were creeping back at about four months, so I discontinued black cohosh for a couple of weeks and then resumed. Once again it is highly effective.
Now I wonder when I should discontinue it permanently. How will I know when the worst is over and I don’t need it anymore? Am I simply postponing hot flashes, as women do when they take HRT?
A. Thanks for sharing your experience with black cohosh. Some studies show that this herb is effective against hot flashes, while others suggest it is no better than placebo. A review of 16 randomized controlled trials with over 2,000 women found the evidence inconclusive (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Sept. 12, 2012).
Because black cohosh does not appear to act via estrogen it is unlikely that you are simply postponing your hot flashes. It may take a year or two before your symptoms abate.
Other Ways to Ease Hot Flashes:
Another option is flaxseed, as this reader suggests:
“At 48, I too was having problems until I started taking 2 Tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day (I took it all at once in my morning oatmeal with a teaspoon of cinnamon). I noticed improvement with my mood, night sweats, and dry skin within 10 days. After five weeks I cut down to taking 1 Tablespoon of ground flaxseed per day and no more hot flashes or mood swings. Also my depression improved and my cloudy thinking cleared up. My doctor was surprised. Flaxseed can be sensitive to heat and can’t be taken with certain medications. So do your research.
“I bought the flaxseed whole and ground it as needed with a coffee grinder. I have been on this natural approach for the past six months and I am no longer taking any other medications for mood swings or menopause.”
Flaxseed contains lignans that have estrogenic activity, just as soy isoflavones do (Hairi et al, Current Drug Targets, online Aug. 16, 2017). These can help ease hot flashes for some women. In addition, there is some evidence that acupuncture and yoga help alleviate hot flash symptoms (Goldstein et al, VA Evidence-Based Synthesis Program Reports, July 2016).