A hot flash, or “hot flush” as it is sometimes known, is a common problem that many menopausal and perimenopausal women experience. Typically it starts with a hot feeling along the face, neck, or chest accompanied by a reddening (or “flushing”) of the skin. This heat then spreads along the rest of the body accompanied by sweating and rapid heartbeat. A hot flash can last anywhere from a couple minutes to thirty minutes at a time and has been known to interrupt sleep or cause insomnia in some women. Very bad hot flashes have even been known to cause women to pass out!
Hot flashes are a natural part of growing older and tend to be triggered by the lowering levels of estrogen associated with menopause. However, there are several things you can do about them.
Natural herbal remedies are extremely popular ways to deal with hot flashes. The Native Americans have used Black Cohash (also known as “black snake root”) for centuries safely and with great success. Red clover and sarsaparilla are also good treatments; however, they are not as strong as black cohash. In Asia women use Dong Quai, or “female ginseng”, to treat their hot flashes. Although this herb has been found to be both effective and have high amounts of vitamin B-12 and anti-inflammatory compounds, Dong Quai has been linked to breast cancer so you should avoid it if you have a family history of cancer. Chaste berry, also known as Vitex agnus-castus, is another option for those having chest pain or tenderness with their hot flashes, though it has not been well studied yet.
Sometimes simple lifestyle changes are all it takes to lower the number of hot flashes. Wearing lighter, cooler clothes will make hot flashes less frequent while making those that do occur more bearable. Staying out of hot rooms will also help. Moving to a cooler climate can also have similar effects for women who enjoy being outdoors. Eating foods with phytoestrogens, a natural estrogen-like compound, in them also will help. Good foods include soy beans, tofu, yams, red clover, and black cohash. Avoiding caffeine (including coffee and chocolate), spicy foods, hot drinks, and alcohol also will help reduce hot flashes.
If all else fails, try talking to a doctor about hormonal therapies. There are many kinds of hormone therapies available today, some of which can even be bought over the counter.