Are you on the brink of menopause, or going through menopause? One of the most common menopausal complaints is hot flushes and night sweats.
A hot flush begins in the hypothalamus (located at the base of the brain) which controls body temperature and regulates oestrogen levels (among other tasks).
Due to atrophy of the ovaries leading up to and during menopause oestrogen levels start to decline and the feedback loop from the brain to the ovaries no longer receives the correct signals. The body responds to this by whipping the hypothalamus with adrenalin to compensate for the incorrect signals it is receiving which in turn resets the body’s thermostatic control to high so that a hot flush floods the body.
Hot flushes are different for all women. Hot flushes cause discomfort (sometimes embarrassment) and most often night waking. Hot flushes are a feeling of heat (sometimes extremely intense) that sweeps through the upper body to the face, reddening the skin and causing sweating then moving to a sense of being overheated. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes. The flushes can occur during the day or night or both. At night time the hot flushes can be followed by chills and shivering to restore the body to its normal temperature.
Hot flushes can be intensified or triggered by stress, emotional responses, tiredness, any form of heat – whether weather, water or body generated and by coffee, chillies, hot spices, and alcohol and nicotine.
Hot flushes can also lead to agitation, stress, loss of sleep as well as being accompanied by headaches, heart palpitations, vagueness, fatigue, nausea and dizziness.
The good news is the body usually adjusted after one year however they can last for five or more years.
A NATURAL THERAPISTS APPROACH TO TREATING HOT FLUSHES
There are some great herbs for treating hot flushes and used in context with diet and lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.
The herbs listed below are the most common. However, it is by no means an exhaustive list to combat hot flushes.
Flushing and Sweating
Sage (Salvia officinalis) is highly astringent and helps to close the pores of the skin preventing excessive sweating as well as having a modulating effect upon the hypothalamus.
Herbs that have weak oestrogen-like effects are called phytoestrogens. These plants are used for the management of hot flushes as they have a steroid ring structure similar to the oestrogens and therefore weakly bind to oestrogen receptors applying a modulating effect to stabilise the cell. Long used here are Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) and Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus).
Consider making a cooling facial spray. Just add into a spray bottle a few drops of rose and peppermint essential oil to filtered water. When you feel a hot flush coming on, close your eyes and mist your face with the spray. Shake the bottle vigorously before spraying.
Zizyphus (Zizyphus spinosa) is excellent for nights sweats and works well when combined with Withania (Withania somnifera) to help with sleep. As night sweating is one of the symptoms of exhausted adrenals, Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) can also be helpful due to its cortisol-sparing action, it is also a phytoestrogenic herb.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is specific when heart palpitations and nervousness accompany hot flushes.
Insomnia can be associated with hot flushes, and the herbs that help reduce flushing can also help to reduce insomnia. However, if you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep consider Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Lavender, Passionflower, Catnip, and Withania all which are in the SLEEP herbal tea blend.
Anxiety or worry can bring on a hot flush. Herbs to consider here include Linden (Tilia cordata), Zizyphus (Zizyphus spinosa), Lavender (Lavandula officinalis), Green Oats ( Avena sativa), and Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata).
Stress, Tiredness and Fatigue
Stressors of our daily life can trigger a hot flush. If the adrenal glands are under pressure to make high amounts of cortisol and DHEA due to chronic stress, overwork or tiredness, they may not be able to keep up with the demand for sex hormone precursors. As the adrenal glands are the source of precursors for oestrogens, testosterone (androstenedione and DHEA) and progesterone in the postmenopausal years, it makes sense that optimal adrenal gland function for a smooth and symptom-free menopausal transition is essential.
Herbs to consider when supporting the adrenal glands and nervous system leading up to and through menopause are Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa), Withania (Withania somnifera), Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) and Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis).
Additional Self Care Considerations
- Sleep in sheets and nightwear made of cotton or silk
- Sleep on a towel or folded sheet so you can throw them in the wash rather than having to change the entire bed sheets
- Wear light and loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibres - avoid unbreathable fabrics
- Limit spicy foods, coffee, and alcohol
- Avoid drinking or eating foods that are extremely hot
- Nourish your body by eating healthy well-balanced meals
- Include miso, tofu, and tempeh into the diet
- If you are using soy milk use only Bonsoy as it is fermented
- Stress management tools such as yoga, tai chi and meditation
- Exercise regularly
Are you ready to help reduce those hot flushes then click here to purchase your herbal tea for hot flush relief? If hot beverages trigger hot flushes for you, this tea can also be enjoyed chilled or iced. If you would like to work further with your menopausal symptoms, click here to book a consultation and learn how naturopathy and iridology can help you.