Flushed face, warm skin, heart palpitations— you’re not in an interrogation room. You’re in your office on a Wednesday afternoon with hot flashes.
Millions of women and even men experience hot flashes. Hormonal changes are often to blame, but if you’ve written them off as a symptom of old age, not so fast. You can freeze hot flashes for good by following these same tips that I gave my aunt to beat hers.
Knock Out Hot Flashes with Herbs
My aunt’s herbal knowledge was limited to seasoning foods, yet she insisted nothing could be done. I suggested supplemental herbs to combat her hot flashes. Herbal supplements lower inflammation, reduce stress, and balance hormones, all of which decrease the occurrence of hot flashes.
Popular in Tradition Chinese Medicine (TCM), dong quai is used for fatigue, irregular menstruation, inflammation, and pain relief. Menopausal women find that dong quai often relieves symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and low energy.
You can snag dong quai in your natural grocery store in tablet, capsule, or powder form. Average dosages are around 2,000-4,000mg per day, but be cautious if you take blood thinners or daily aspirin, as dong quai is known to slow blood clotting.
If you’re looking for a tried and true herbal remedy, black cohosh is one of the most studied traditional herbs. It offers effective hot flash relief by balancing and maintaining hormonal levels. It’s also known to improve sleep quality, hormonal imbalances from diabetes or fibroids, and premenopausal fertility. Unlike certain hormonal treatments, black cohosh doesn’t contain estrogenic activity, making it safer for women with a family history of ovarian and breast cancers.
Black cohosh comes in teas, capsules, and tinctures. Aim for 20-80mg twice daily to relieve menopausal symptoms. It can cause some GI discomfort and rare cases of headaches and dizziness, so chat with your doctor, especially if you have kidney or liver problems.
Bestowed the honor of the “superfood” label, these tiny seeds pack quite the nutrient profile. Flaxseeds are the premier source of lignans— powerful antioxidants that balance hormones, combat aging, boost cellular health, and prevent osteoporosis. Flaxseeds are also an alternative to hormone replacement therapy because of lignan’s estrogenic properties.
Flaxseeds are diverse enough to be baked into breakfast bars, ground into smoothies, and mixed into yogurt. They’re best absorbed ground or sprouted, but you can also use them in oil form. Add 1-2 tablespoons to your daily routines to beat hot flashes.
Vitex or Chasteberry
This herb is as good as it gets for clinical treatment of hot flashes. It balances hormones to regulate sleep, menopause, fibroids, skin health, and irregular periods. Vitex works to increase luteinizing hormones, which decrease during menopause. All of this balances the ratio of progesterone to estrogen, squelching the occurrence of hot flashes.
Pair vitex with black cohosh and dong quai for maximum hot flash support. Aim for 160-240mg daily in capsule form. It’s safe for many women, but talk to your doctor if you have a family history of mental illness or are taking estrogen treatments.
Oils: Evening Primrose and Peppermint (for Cooling)
Soothing evening primrose oil contains omega-6 essential fatty acids. It knocks out hot flashes, but its therapeutic properties also work as an anti-inflammatory. Take 500mg twice daily in oil or capsule form.
Peppermint oil can work as a topical coolant if your hot flashes are still stubbornly hanging around. Mixing a few drops of peppermint oil with your moisturizer or a warm compress can alleviate your symptoms on the spot. Apply it to the back of your neck to release muscle tension and bring cooling relief.
Chill Out with a Stress-Free Lifestyle
Do untimely hot flashes make your blood boil? It’s no coincidence that a quick temper can raise your temperature. Mood swings and hot flashes went hand-in-hand for my aunt. Once her temperature went up, her temper flared, and that became the norm. Adopting a more zen approach to hot flashes not only lowers their frequency but also fosters positive mental health and reduces overall stress hormones.
Inhale for five seconds. Exhale for seven seconds. Relax. My aunt noticed she felt more energized and focused after her yoga classes. Just 10 minutes of mindful meditation reduced her feelings of anxiety and moodiness, fending off depression, stress-related weight gain, and overeating.
New to meditation? You don’t need all the bells and whistles money can buy. Find a quiet room and draw your attention to your breathing for a few moments. There are plenty of free mobile apps and websites that guide you through a beginner’s meditation session.
A poor night’s sleep is life’s free pass to be grumpy, and hot flashes at night are a catch-22. How do you relieve stress if you wake up sweating at 3:00 am? Start with good sleep hygiene. Pick a bedtime and stick to it. Turn off phones, laptops, televisions, and other blue light emitters at least 30 minutes before your bedtime. Avoid the kitchen if midnight snacks are a temptation.
Once you’re in bed, ensure you’re not compromising yourself by sleeping in heavy pajamas or a warm bedroom. Flannel pajamas and warm rooms prevent your body from dropping the few degrees it needs to sleep peacefully throughout the night. If you’re seriously struggling, I’d even suggest sleeping in the nude.
If you’re too wired to get to bed by midnight, try emptying the tank during the day. Invigorating exercise like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) promotes a good night’s sleep, strengthens bones, lowers stress levels, and boosts mood levels. I already mentioned that it’s a great stress reliever, but I’ll say it again.
Getting active gives you a sense of accomplishment. You take pride knowing that you did something great for your body. You also get to reap the confidence of looking and feeling better. Hot flashes? What hot flashes?
Women with severe, daily hot flashes should know that acupuncture is another option to target your symptoms. Acupuncture has been shown to decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes, and men with hot flashes also found relief of their symptoms. Researchers found that acupuncture is an effective, lower-risk option compared to hormonal therapy.
The first thing I asked my aunt to abandon was her doubt. She didn’t think it was possible to eliminate her hot flashes. I asked her to just try it out— incorporate a few of these tips into her daily routine. She discovered that proper sleep, meditation, and a few herbal supplements created a world of change.
The “winning” combination is different for everyone, but proper nutrition and sleep are the most important, especially as you age. Without these two factors, supplements have little impact. As you embrace your body, you can also embrace the aging process and cherish everyday opportunities hot flash-free.