Herbs help calm hot flushes

A hot flush is an uncomfortable condition often associated with the menopausal transition period. Here, Dr Nita Sharma Das, tell us how these flashes can be managed with the help of certain herbs.

Hot flushes occur when a women is nearing her menopausal days. These hot flushes usually occur at night, but sometimes it may occur during day too as an interruption to daily activities.

A lot of research has gone into finding out the root cause of this discomfort but the exact cause is still unclear. It is understood that the hypothalamus, which regulates the body temperature misinterprets the heat of the body thus raising it up which further leads to a chain of physiological response that corrects the body temperature by dilating the blood vessels present beneath the skin for increasing the blood flow. This leads to heavy perspiration that in turn helps to cool the body temperature. Consequently, this leads to redness of facial skin, increased heartbeat, chilly feeling followed by profusive sweating.

The duration of menopausal hot flushes, however, varies from person to person. In some, it continues for six months to two years, whereas for some others these may continue even after 10 years of menopause. The outcome of a hot flush maybe easily tolerable, but some women may feel embarrassed by this, while others feel debilitated.

Even though synthetic medications are available for the treatment of these hot flushes, most people avoid them due to their long-term side effects. So, most resort to natural remedies for treating this embarrassing health condition. Many Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicinal herbs have been identified to control hot flushes by cooling the body. These herbs can be used in combination or as stand-alone for treating this ailment. Some of the tried, tested and approved herbs are as follows:-

Black Cohosh

Since 1950, Black Cohosh has been identified as a herbal remedy for treating menopausal symptoms. The potential benefit of Black Cohosh was studied through different small scale animal research and human trials. According to the findings of these studies, it was confirmed that Black Cohosh was effective in treating menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats by regulating the body temperature and maintain hormonal balance.

The liquid tincture of this herb is readily available in the market. This is prepared from the root or underground stem of this herb. Experts recommend 40 drops once or twice daily to help reduce menopausal symptoms. However, pills, tea and powder formulation of this herbal remedy are also available in the market as Black Cohosh supplement.

Red Clover

In traditional medicine, over a century ago, the flower buds of Red Clover were enlisted as a herbal remedy. However, isoflavone, a phytochemical present in the leaf of this herb was found to be effective in treating menopause-related symptoms. Depending upon the physiological condition of the individual, Isoflavones can act in both agonist and antagonist of estrogen. Promensil and Rimostil have established products of isoflavone extracted from Red Clover leaf. Both safety and efficacy study of this medication was conducted and some research finding supported its efficacy to treat hot flushes effectively without any significant side effects.

Promensil and Rimostil are usually available in form of tablets. It is always good to consult a doctor before determining the dose of these formulations. The dose varies from individual to individual due to its dual action.

Dong Quai

Dong Quai is a very common traditional Chinese herbal medicine. It is very effective in treating hot flashes. This herb has relatively very little side effects but may have drug-drug interaction with warfarin.

Dong Quai product supplements are easily available in the market. Experts recommended 3 to 6 gm divided dose of Dong Quai supplement thrice a day.

Evening primrose seed oil

An oil formulation is found in the Evening primrose seeds which is extracted and combined with Vitamin E for effective results. This combination gives a longer shelf-life for this product by preventing rancidity. This is a safe herbal medicinal ingredient with very little chances of nausea and vomiting or other gastrointestinal problems. The recommended dose ranges from 3 to 6 gm per day.

Ginseng

In Asian countries, Ginseng is a popular traditional herbal ingredient. World Health Organization has endorsed Ginseng as a health tonic to restore energy and fortification in case of weakness, mental and physical exhaustion, chronic fatigue condition. This supplement may not have a specific role against hot flushes, but this is a common ingredient in most of the herbal supplements recommended to menopausal women to improve their overall well-being. This drug is relatively safe but rarely causes problems like headache, gastrointestinal problem, etc. The recommended dose is 100 mg to 600 mg per day.

Chaste Tree Berry

Chaste Tree Berry extract is another natural treatment that helps combat the menopausal symptoms. It also helps to reduce hot flashes due to its vasomotor functioning. Experts recommend that 500 mg to 800 mg of Chaste Tree Berry extract per day is effective in treating menopausal symptoms. Vitex is a herbal supplement capsule formulated from Chaste Tree Berry extract and the essential oil extracted from this tree leaf. The recommended dose of Vitex is one capsule per day.

Maca

Maca is a well-known for its aphrodisiac effects. It is also a natural herbal ingredient effective in treating female hormonal imbalance. Maca-GO is a proprietary supplement of this herbal ingredient effective in treating early menopausal symptoms including hot flashes. The efficacy of Maca-GO as studied by conducting a human trial found that sterol-like compounds present in Maca are effective in balancing ovarian hormone in female. It also reduces menopausal symptoms. The recommended dose of Maca-GO is 1 gm per day, which is effective in treating hot flashes.

Soy

This is a common herbal supplement with multiple benefits for all age groups and for both genders. This herb is found to be effective in treating hot flushes. This is a well-tolerated herbal remedy, but continuous long-term soy supplement may cause endometrial hyperplasia.  Experts recommended 50 mg to 100 mg soy containing isoflavone per day for an effective result against the hot flush.

Dr Nita Sharma Das

Dr Nita is a Doctor of Naturopathy with a PhD in Alternative Medicine. She is a freelance medical writer with an experience of more than 14 years in Indian healthcare industry with strong niche in Nutraceutical. She has regularly written for renowned national and international magazines on various diseases, their treatments, home remedies, health fitness regime, herbal medicines and well-being. Herbal medicine and Nutraceutical are her specialization and area of research.

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