The word “menopause” comes from Greek words meaning “month” and “cessation.” It refers to the time in a woman’s life when the monthly menstrual cycle begins slowing down and finally stops entirely. Most women get through this stage without serious discomfort. But above 80 percent of women going through menopause will occasionally experience hot flashes. These are caused by declining estrogen levels, which make blood vessels in the skin periodically dilate. The rush of blood can result in sensations of searing heat, along with flushing and night sweats.
Hot flashes aren’t dangerous, but they can be extremely uncomfortable. Here are some proven ways to turn down the heat.
Put tofu on the menu . Along with tempeh and other soy foods, tofu contains natural compounds called phytoestrogens, which are similar to the estrogen the body produces naturally. Research show that women with a lot of soy foods in their diet are much less likely to have not flashes.
Try an herbal cure . Natural practitioners often recommend that women having hot flashes take a Chinese herb called dong quai. Sold in tablet form in health food stores, dong quai may be very helpful for turning down the heat.
Take some vitamin E. many physicians advise that women having hot flashes take 400 IU of vitamin E twice a day, which can reduce their frequency and severity. Vitamin E can have side effects when taken in large doses; so check with you doctor before taking it.
Dress for the change . The body’s thermostat is naturally set a little higher when you’re going through menopause. It’s important to do everything you can to keep cool. This includes dressing in layers (so you can take clothes off when you start feeling hot), wearing natural fabrics that ‘breathe,’ and keeping the temperature in the house a little lower.
Give up the cigarettes . Research has shown that some of the chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause estrogen levels to dip, which can make hot flashes even worse.
Help yourself relax . There’s some evidence that hot flashed are caused in part by high levels of a chemical in the brain called norepinephrine. Reducing stress – by meditating, doing yoga, or deep breathing – can cause norepinephrine levels to fall, which may help reduce the frequency of hot flashes.