They can appear suddenly, or you may feel it coming on. Your face gets red and you start sweating. Feelings 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!*
We asked our experts to give us their top tips on how to survive hot flushes:
- Use bedclothes made from cotton and layers rather than a big duvet. “Avoid clothes made from synthetic fabrics and wear layers instead so you can adjust your clothing to how you are feeling” says Shona Wilkinson, Nutritonist at Superfooduk.com.
- 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” says Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritonist, author of Natural Solutions to Menopause
- 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” adds Dr Glenville.
- You can also take Vitamin C. “Bioflavonoids help to strengthen the capillaries, improving bloodflow and so reducing hot flushes. Try Effervescent Vitamin C from Quest Vitamins (www.qnutrapharma.com)” recommends Nutritonist, Cassandra Barns.
- Stress and anxiety can also cause an attack. Work on steadying your breathing. Lynne Robinson, Pilates guru and Body Control Studio founder recommends “Pilates improves your breathing which will help your stamina and endurance as well as ensure that your core muscles are fit for purpose and that can help prevent back injuries. Pilates can also help to improve the stability and mobility of your joints so that your body moves efficiently and without strain, restoring balance”.
- “Stay away from spicy foods, alcohol and coffee – they can all trigger hot flushes” says Wilkinson.
- Liquorice root extract as a supplement (not the sweet!) contains substances that have a similar structure to the adrenal cortex hormones. Marilyn says “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)” recommends Dr Glenville.