Article by Dr Marilyn Glenville
They can appear suddenly, or you may feel them coming on. Your face gets red and you start sweating. Sensations of almost unbearable, intense heat, commonly known as hot flushes, are among the most common and uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. Caused by low levels oestrogen, they affect almost 75% of women during this difficult time!*
This week, we asked Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist, author of Natural Solutions to Menopause who specialises in women’s health and menopause, to give us her to tips on how to survive hot flushes.
- Avoid clothes made from synthetic fabrics and wear layers instead so you can adjust your clothing to how you are feeling
- Use bedclothes made from cotton and layers rather than a big duvet
- Watch what you eat and drink: hot drink before bedtime can often trigger night sweats or even make them worse. Try to stay away from caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods. Remember, that caffeine can be found in both food and drink (chocolate, caffeinated soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee and tea). It can cause your blood vessels to expand making you sweat more, which can increase the hot flushes. You can also sip a cold drink during the day. If you feel a hot flash coming on, this can help lower your body’s temperature
- Don’t forget to move! Although it may make you feel hotter and sweatier in the short-term women, who exercise regularly, seem to have fewer flushes
- You can also take Vitamin C – Bioflavonoids help to strengthen the capillaries, improving blood flow and so reducing hot flushes
- Stress and anxiety can also cause an attack. Work on your breathing technique – practice yoga, Pilates, meditation or other helpful relaxation techniques
- Liquorice root extract as a supplement (not the sweet!) contains substances that have a similar structure to the adrenal cortex hormones. Thus it is one of the herbs that can act as an ‘adaptogen’ – assisting your adrenals as ‘shock absorbers’ to cope better with stress, preventing a trigger-happy reaction of excessive adrenaline release
- Black Cohosh is the herb of choice for hot flushes. What’s important, it does not increase oestrogen levels and has no effect on cells in the vagina or womb. This is vital because this is where the risks are with HRT, which increases oestrogen levels and stimulates tissue in various places in the body (including the womb and breast) and therefore can increase the risk of cancer. Black cohosh offers relief without oestrogen-like effect. So how does it work? It acts as a SERM – selective oestrogen receptor modulator – promoting it in organs where oestrogen is needed, such as the bones, while acting as an ‘anti-oestrogen’ in organs where unnecessary oestrogen can be dangerous, for example the breast and womb. Try NHP’s Black Cohosh Plus (www.naturalhealthpractice.com, £19.97).