What are Hot Flushes?
Basically, Hot Flushes are a sensation of intense heat that sweeps through the upper body, most especially in the neck & face reddening the skin and causing free perspiration. Within minutes or longer in some cases, the flush feeling passes, and disappears with the same speed. The intensity and duration of Hot Flushes vary as do the number that women experience in a day.
During menopause, there are many physical changes occurring due to the changes taking place in the levels of the female hormones. It is generally thought that the fluctuating hormone levels bring about rapidly increased blood flow, which causes a feeling of a hot flush. These hot flushes may be a symptom of early or the pre-menopause stage.
Click here to find out more about Female Hormones during the change of life.
Herbs for Hot Flushes
Tincture of Black Cohosh can assist with incredibly overwhelming hot or volcanic hot flushes. Tincture of Motherwort has been traditionally used by the Japanese, who claim that it is their secret herb of longevity. Motherwort helps the body go through volcanic hot flushes and also can help to relieve anxiety.
Fenugreek tea will lower the number of flushes and will perfume your sweat with the smell of maple syrup. Black Cohosh has long been used by Native Americans as the specific herb for violent hot flushes.
Hot Flushes & Hormones
During menopause, the body goes through a lot of changes. This is a natural response which the human body has deemed the best solution for long term survival, brought about by evolution over hundreds of thousands of years. Two hormones in particular get produced in the pituitary gland in larger than usual quantities and research suggests that these two hormones cause much of the hot flush feeling These are the Follicle Stimulating Hormone and the Leutinising Hormone. Their amount can increase by up to 1300 percent during menopause.
The Pituitary Hormones
In menopause, estrogen levels drop drastically because there are fewer eggs produced in the ovaries until none are actually produced. The 2 pituitary hormones dramatically increase in production in response to this drop in estrogen levels. It is a hormone response mechanism that is thought to be responsible for Hot Flushes. It is a hormonal see-saw between the 2 pituitary hormones and estrogen and progesterone.
The 2 Pituitary Hormones & Estrogen & Progesterone
The Follicle Stimulating Hormone stimulates the production of estrogen in the ovaries which in turn ripens the eggs. The Leutinising Hormone stimulates the production of progesterone, that in turn, strengthens the uterus in case of pregnancy.
Before reaching menopause, mature eggs are released from the ovaries during the course of the monthly cycle, estrogen levels rise and these 2 pituitary hormones decrease. In menopausal women, estrogen levels don't rise as the ovaries are no longer producing so many eggs if at all. In menopause, the levels of FSH and LH levels stay high in response to lower estrogen levels. Woman experiencing menopause have much more of the pituitary hormones in their system than before menopause.
Hot Flushes & Weight
Thin women tend to experience more Hot Flushes than fatter women do as fat cells help to moderate the hormonal levels. This is not the time to go on a weight loss crash diet. Fat cells produce estrone, which is a kind of estrogen, and this helps you through the next stages of menopause. Estrone tends to be most abundant found in the body after Menopause in women. It is advisable to adding about 10lbs to your body if you are very thin, by exercise and eating lots of fruit and vegetables.
Diet also plays an important part in the intensity, duration and frequency of Hot Flushes, see the recommended diet list below.
Hot Flushes & Hysterectomies
Sometimes it is deemed necessary (perhaps mistakenly) that a woman would benefit from a hysterectomy. This can tilt the natural hormonal balances even more, at least initially and bring about sever cramps and worse hot flushes. We suggest only considering a hysterectomy after fully researching for yourself the possible consequences of having one's uterus and/or ovaries removed.
Estrogen Replacement Therapy
It was quite commonly thought, and in some circles it still is, that estrogen deficiency was a prime cause of hot flushes. Because of this, estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) was a frequent recommendation. Many studies have suggested that ERT can often prolong the time it takes for hot flushes to cease, often several years etc.
Hot Flushes and Diet
Some foods can trigger off Hot Flushes or make them more intense in duration. You will find that certain foods trigger your own hot flushes but here is a list of general foods to avoid:
- Caffeine drinks
- Acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus, pickles)
- Spicy foods
- Hot drinks
- Alcoholic Drinks
- White sugar
- White flour
- Junk or “fast “foods (which contain unknown chemicals and hormones)
- Meat containing hormones
- Hydrogenated or Saturated fats (meat or margarine)
- Tobacco or Marijuana
- Artificially flavored and sweetened foods.