The caricature of a sexy woman adorned with a feather boa and six-inch eyelashes smiled at me from the front of the birthday card. “You’re still hot!” read the caption below the shapely cartoon lady’s stiletto heels. Smiling, I opened the card from my dear friend…only to read the bitter truth, “These days it just comes in flashes!”
Funny card. But for women who deal with the “flashes” of heat that strike with no warning, it’s no laughing matter.
Truth is, most women experience hot flashes at some point before or after menopause when their estrogen levels are declining. While some women are blessed with few to no flashes, others suffer the surges of internal heat numerous times a day causing miserable disruptions in sleep and daily living.
The late-summer heat just makes matters worse.
Summer can be a truly “hellish” time for women coping with hot flashes and night sweats. While comforted knowing my personal heat waves are not a sign of some medical problem, they’re still a royal pain – frustrating and often embarrassing as the tiny rivulets of sweat trickle from my hairline down the side of my face during a business meeting.
If you’re a woman tired of waking up in a pool of sweat every night or carrying around a portable fan all day, don’t despair. There are effective treatments that may either reduce or stop moderate to severe hot flashes including short-term, low-dose estrogen (hormone therapy), certain antidepressant and blood pressure medicines and the herb, black cohosh.
But for some of us, drugs and herbal therapy may not be an option. If you’ve had breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or are at risk for either, you may have been told you’ve just got to put up with the unwanted waves of heat. Like many of women, I take the anti-estrogen medication, Tamoixfen because of a bout with breast cancer. (Some women take a similar medication, Arimidex) so we’ve got to find another way to beat the heat of hot flashes.)
Avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and making sure to exercise and maintain a healthy diet are a great start…but if the heat’s still on, and hormone therapy isn’t right for you; check out these natural remedies that may just give you the big chill you crave!
A 2013 Mayo Clinic study showed that doing slow, deep, abdominal breathing reduces the number and severity of hot flashes. (This really helps me.) Take three or four slow breaths whenever you feel the heat coming on. The hot flash often will just fade away. Practicing calming meditation also helps. Scientists are finding that stress hormones aggravate menopausal symptoms.
Clary sage and Roman chamomile essential oils help balance mood swings, while peppermint can chill hot flashes. To make your own cooling mist (especially great for night sweats!), mix the following ingredients in a 4-oz. dark-glass spray bottle:
* 3 ounces distilled water
* 1 ounce witch hazel extract
* 8 drops each of peppermint, clary sage and Roman chamomile essential oils
Sip Some Sage
This is a fave for reducing flashes and night sweats. Because sage may have estrogen-like effects, avoid therapeutic amounts if you’ve had breast cancer or could be pregnant. To brew a cup of the delicious tea: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried. Steep, cover for 5 minutes and then strain. Add a little honey or lemon, if you’d like. Have a cup two or three times a day.
Here’s to a cool you!