Hot flushes/flashes –

Tips and advice on turning down the heat!

As far as I can see, hot flushes or the American version – hot flashes, (which makes me think of hot oil and frying pans!) are the most commonly acknowledged symptom of menopause…or is it? Is it just the one symptom that people hear about because it has an outward show as it were. Women are so overwhelmed and so overcome by the suddenness of it that its difficult to hide. The social awkwardness of sitting in a restaurant and chatting amongst friends and family and all of a sudden you feel like someones lit a fire under your seat. I remember watching the exact same scenario years ago when it happened to an Aunt of mine as she sat getting red in the face, fanning herself with flimsy napkins, asking everyone if they were hot, if the waiter could open a window, bring more water, swap seats with someone thats nearer to the air conditioning unit. Then there’s the night time version that causes us to throw off our covers and create an ocean sized chasm between us and our partnersphysically and emotionally- as we avoid their body heat as well meanwhile tossing and turning, sweating and palpitating!

So what are these insane aberrations in body temperature, why do they happen and what can be done for hot flushes?

Well the cause is a little elusive; scientist seem to think that the fall in oestrogen levels is the root cause of both hot flushes and the often accompanying sweating. That somehow the hypothalamus -which controls body temperature- has a kind of thermostatic glitch causing body temperature to actually drop whereas the feeling is of a spike in temperature. For some people this results in a little facial glow and for others it can be a whole wave of of heat from the tips of the toes to the top of their head lasting between 2-5 minutes. The body also produces more adrenaline during a hot flush and therefore this heating can also be accompanied by sweating and heart palpitations; as though turning into the fire guy from Fantastic 4 wasn’t bad enough we also feel like we’re having a heart attack! Some tertiary and environmental reasons for these spikes can be to do with stress, tiredness, hunger and thirst.

Western medicine is very matter of fact and often derogatory where the menopause is concerned but there is a spiritual school of thought that equates hot flushes to “power surges” that are part of a woman’s kundalini energy awakening when we leave the phase of the mother – more on that in another blog…

So what can we do to stop these embarrassing episodes apart from taking the HRT that is forced on us by every male and female Dr of allopathic origin. Well there are quite a few things actually! Firstly cutting down on caffeine (especially coffee) which has a a strong effect on the adrenals and alcohol – which very heating. Also, wearing layers of clothes instead of one thick layer can all help our general comfort. At night Wicking nightwear is especially useful as it takes moisture away from the body when excessive sweating is an issue. Many people recommend layers of sheets at night but I’m a duvet kind of girl and there are duvets that are all season and can be unbuttoned from the thicker layer but John lewis also do a his and hers duvet that has a cooler side for us surging women!! Breathing exercises are also an amazing way to bring down the adrenaline surge and make you feel like you’re in control of your body again. There are also supplements, foods and superfoods that I have found helpful.

Maca Powder

This Peruvian root has been used for centuries to increase stamina, energy and to stimulate fertility and even sexual vitality. It’s high density and phytonutrient content has made it renowned as a hormone balancer. Maca is eaten like a turnip or a radish in Peru, a staple food that is also sold on the street as an ingredient in drinks – like caffeine but better for you! So how much do you take? A tablespoon of the powder can be added to a shake or a chai, in cakes replacing some of the flour or stirred in to yogurt. If you’re going take the capsules, about 2000mg per day is recommended. Maca can provide relief from many other menopausal symptoms such as vaginal dryness, lack of libido, tiredness, mind fog and memory loss as well.

Vitamin E Supplements

Vitamin E is a group of fat soluble compounds with powerful anti-oxidant qualities. Since the 1940’s and more recently studies byThe Mayo Clinic have proven that Vitamin E is highly beneficial for minimising the many symptoms of the menopause. This highly lubricating vitamin is also good for vaginal dryness and can be applied internally to lubricate the walls and also used instead of a moisturiser for general skin dryness as well. It can be bought in capsules to ingest and as an oil for external use. It is also naturally found in almonds, hazelnuts, flax seeds, avocados, sunflower seeds and sprouted seeds.

Soy

Soy is a rich natural source of phytoestrogens which mimic the action of oestrogen in the body. A serving a day can reduce hot flushes, night sweats and also lower the risk of osteoporosis, also a major concern during menopause.

Evening Primrose Oil

Rich in Gamma Linoleic Acid which is an essential Omega-6 fatty acid. Trials have shown that women taking Evening Primrose Oil supplements reported less incidents of Hot Flushes. There are also other menopausal symptoms that can be relieved by Evening Primrose Oil such as, headaches, fluid retention and cramps. The recommended amount to be take is 3gm per day.

Magnesium & Calcium

Both these mineral can become depleted when the body has less oestrogen and the play a major factor in the ability to get a good nights sleep. Foods rich in Magnesium include: almonds, cashews, peanut butter, potato skins, brown rice and yogurt.

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