Home Remedies for Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
At first you are merely feeling a little warmer than usual and maybe even warmer than anyone else in the room. You ask your companion, “is it hot in here or is it just me?” A moment later your body is radiating heat and the moisture is pouring off you. You think to yourself “holy hot flashes, what is going on here?”
All the world loves a “my most embarrassing hot flash” story and this is *Deena’s. Deena is an accomplished business woman aged 49, who was about to be called up to the stage to accept an award from a national organization honoring her for excellence in her field. As the presenter was informing the crowd about Deena’s accomplishments at length, Deena describes a sudden mounting surging heat beginning to radiate in her upper body. She starts whispering to herself, “please not now, please not now” as she feels her face getting redder and redder – some of it from the hot flash coming on and some of it from embarrassment. When she rises to go the podium to accept her award, she feels drenched in moisture and is sure everyone in the room can tell what is going on with her. A picture snapped at the moment the presenter is shaking Deena’s hand shows Deena with a determined grimace trying to just get through the next few moments with grace.
Perfectly awful? Absolutely. Perfectly natural? Ditto
What can we do about hot flashes and their night time equivalent night sweats? While every woman should have in-depth discussions about their health periodically with their physicians and there are many doctor and natural healing prescribed forms of relief, the following is a primer of home remedies for hot flashes and night sweats developed from a list of questions about night sweats and hot flashes asked by readers, fans and customers of Dry Babe:
Why Is It Called a Hot Flash When It Does Not Disappear In a Flash?
The term hot flash better describes how the overall feeling starts, e.g. – suddenly, than how it ends – slowly dissipating, because one moment you are fine and then next thing you know you are tearing your clothes off and are drenched in your own sweat.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website:
Hot flashes are sudden feelings of warmth, which are usually most intense over the face, neck and chest. Your skin may redden, just as if you were blushing. Hot flashes can also cause profuse sweating and may leave you chilled.
Although other hormonal conditions can cause them, hot flashes most commonly are due to menopause — the time of life when a woman’s menstrual periods stop.
Depending on the person, hot flashes may occur a few times a week or several times a day. Hot flashes that occur at night can interrupt your sleep…
Which leads us to night sweats. Night sweats are hot flashes that occur while you sleep. Because often times night sweats leave the body feeling cold, wet and clammy, night sweats often cause interrupted and poor quality sleep.
Why Am I Having Night Sweats and Hot Flashes?
Night sweats and hot flashes are often caused by decreased hormone levels often associated with perimenopause and menopause. However, night sweats and hot flashes can be caused by obesity, certain medical conditions and certain prescription medications. Please see the post What Are Night Sweats? http://www.drybabe.com/blog/what-are-night-sweats/ on the Dry Babe site for more in-depth information.
Are There Home Remedies for Hot Flashes & Night Sweats?
As the debate about hormone replacement therapy goes on, many women are happy to learn that there are a number of home remedies to help lessen or do away with completely their hot flashes and night sweats.
Managing hot flashes and night sweats at home can be accomplished by having a healthy lifestyle. In as much:
1. Put Down Those Cigarettes. Studies have shown that nicotine stimulates hot flashes. Women who smoke have more hot flashes and more intense hot flashes than women who do not smoke. Not only that, but smoking increases wrinkle development, thinning of the skin and development of red capillaries at the visible skin surface not to mention all the cancer/heart attack/stroke causing effects.
2. Switch to Decaf. Like nicotine, caffeine stimulates hot flashes. One or two cups of caffeinated beverages per day should be fine. The rest should be decaf or no caff.
3. Strike a Pose. Recent studies have demonstrated that practicing yoga helps to relieve hot flashes and night sweats. According to the Yoga Journal:
Those who have turned to yoga for relief have found that while asanas may not directly influence estrogen production, specific postures can help control unpleasant symptoms. Restorative postures in particular can relax the nervous system and may improve the functioning of the endocrine system (especially the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the thyroid, and the parathyroid gland), which helps the body adapt to hormonal fluctuations.
Non yogis who regularly engage in other forms of exercise including cardio and weight training also experience a decrease in hot flashes due to the better overall conditioning of their body.
4. Eat for Health. Enjoying a balanced diet high in whole foods and grains and low in processed foods will also help to increase overall conditioning and decrease hot flashes and night sweats. Avoid foods that produce heat, e.g. hot peppers, hot mustards, wasabi, which stimulate metabolism and increase heat within the body. Decreasing alcohol intake will also help to decrease hot flashes and night sweats.
**A note about soy – it has been commonly thought that a diet rich in soy will help to alleviate hot flashes and night sweats. Recent studies suggest that there is no link between soy consumption and alleviating night sweats and hot flashes. Moreover, soy mimics estrogen in the body which can be dangerous for women prone to certain diseases, especially breast cancer. Women should consult their physician about how much soy intake, if any, is right for them.
5. Go Black. Black cohosh (known as both Actaea racemosa and Cimicifuga racemosa) is a perennial plant that is native to North America and is part of the buttercup family. It is also called black snakeroot, bugbane, bugwort, rattleroot, rattletop, rattleweed, and macrotys.
According to the Mayo Clinic, black cohosh has historically been prescribed as an alternative to hormonal therapy in the treatment of menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood disturbances, and vaginal dryness. Until recently, black cohosh had not demonstrated any research efficacy. A recently released study has reported some positive results on the usage of black cohosh to improve certain menopausal symptoms for up to six months, although the current evidence is not clear cut.
How black cohosh may be working to relieve menopausal symptoms remains a mystery as is the long-time overall effect it may have on the body. Moreover, whether or not it continues to have a positive effect in relieving symptoms after 6 months of usage remains unknown. With all this in mind, the overall consensus is that in low risk populations, it may relieve certain menopausal symptoms for up to 6 months.
7. Dress for Success. If you are prone to hot flashes or night sweats, what you wear is important. Loose comfortable clothing made of natural fabrics such as cotton will help to increase your comfort factor. Studies have shown that cotton and other natural fabrics help to conduct heat away from your body while polyester and other man made fabrics tend to trap heat next to your body. (As we all know, there is a company very dear to our hearts that makes absorbent sleepwear in fun & flirty styles using highly absorbent cotton fabric.)
8. Keep Your Cool. Many women find that taking a cool shower before bedtime and keeping cold water by the bed to drink helps to reduce overall body temperature and alleviate night sweats. Some women even keep a fan by their bedside or crank up the air conditiner. The important point is to make sure your environment is properly temperature controlled according to the current dictates of your body. Many women who have a long history of feeling cold in 75 degree weather now report that they feel too warm in that temperature. So while we no longer need to carry a sweater, perhaps a towel is more appropriate?
We at Dry Babe wish you the best health and moisture free days and nights.