8 Home Remedies for Hot Flashes That Really Work (And 4 That Really Don’t)
The average woman will experience seven YEARS of hot flashes. Here’s how to deal drug-free.
What helps hot flashes: Think your hot flashes away
Simply wishing your hot flashes weren’t real won’t work, but a double-blind, controlled study (the best kind) found that using a mental technique called cognitive behavioral therapy was effective at diminishing both hot flashes and night sweats. CBT is a simple type of psychological therapy you can do on your own that works by challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive ones. In this case the women were taught to change their beliefs about how well they could cope with and control their hot flashes. Sound too simple to work? The researchers reported that CBT worked significantly regardless of a participant’s age, body mass index, menopause status, or psychological factors. Don’t miss these other early warning signs of perimenopause.
What helps hot flashes: Set up your ideal sleep situation
Hot flashes and night sweats can wake women up as often as every hour, leaving them a sweaty, shaky, tired mess the next day, according to the Sleep Lab at UCLA. Unsurprisingly, this can make women grouchy and depressed. But while you may not be able to stop your hot flashes, practicing good “sleep hygiene” can reduce them. The researchers recommend keeping your room cool at night; avoiding hot showers or baths at least two hours before bed; eating a small bedtime snack, preferably one rich in vitamin E like almonds; and ditching caffeine, alcohol, and sugar. Here are other tips from sleep doctors to sleep better.
What helps hot flashes: “Listen to the sound of my voice…”
Hypnotism may sound like woo-woo nonsense but several studies have found that using clinical hypnotism can help with a variety of minor ailments, including hot flashes. One study published in Menopause found that women who had just six session of hypnosis experienced 56 fewer hot flashes per week compared to only 12 less for a control group who was simply taught an attention technique. Even better, the women in the hypnosis group reported that the hot flashes they did have were less severe than before.
What helps hot flashes: Lose weight
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way in reducing the discomforts of menopause, according to a recent study done by Baylor University. The researchers assigned women experiencing at least four hot flashes a day to two groups: One designed to help the participants lose weight and a control group. After six months, the dieting women had lost an average of 19 pounds and reported their hot flashes to be significantly less. The women who lost the most weight experienced the most relief, the researchers noted.
What helps hot flashes: Practice mindfulness
Stress has all kinds of harmful effects on the body. One of those is increasing or worsening hot flashes. But this can be ameliorated by using a particular stress-reduction technique called mindfulness-based stress reduction, according to a 2011 study published in Menopause. MBSR focuses on meditation and staying present even while in pain or distress. Women trained in MBSR experienced an immediate reduction in hot flash intensity, insomnia, anxiety, and stress levels while also improving their overall quality of life, the researchers reported.
What helps hot flashes: Try this soy supplement
There are many, many supplements that claim to ease hot flashes but there is little to no evidence that the majority of them lessen anything except perhaps your bank account, according to The North American Menopause Society. One exception, however, is a soy-based supplement called S-equol. In a randomized, controlled study researchers found that women who took 10 mg of S-equol had significantly fewer hot flashes than women on a placebo. As an added bonus it also appeared to reduce muscle and joint pain.
What helps hot flashes: Get over your fear of needles
Most people don’t love needles but acupuncture, a type of therapy where many small needles are inserted at certain points into the body, may be an effective treatment for hot flashes, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study was done on breast cancer survivors as they often experience hormone-related hot flashes but aren’t good candidates for traditional drug therapies. After eight weeks of weekly treatments, the researchers found that women who got electro-acupuncture (a type where a small electrical current is run through the needles) had far fewer hot flashes than people who took a prescription medication for hot flashes or people who got a placebo version of the acupuncture. The best part? The benefit lasted even after the treatment stopped.
What helps hot flashes: Get moving
iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund
The North American Menopause Society recently did a meta analysis of all the research into treatments for hot flashes in an attempt to separate the old wives’ tales from cold, hard science. Surprisingly, the group says there is no scientific evidence supporting exercise or yoga as effective treatments. But don’t ditch your daily jog just yet. Exercise is one of the best “medicines” we have and has a multitude of health benefits, including ones that might reduce hot flashes like weight loss, improved sleep, and stress reduction. Regardless of the effect on your hot flashes, it’s still totally worth your time and effort to get out and get moving. Here are exercise motivation tricks you haven’t tried yet.
What does not help hot flashes: Take a pass on these four things
Unfortunately many (many) other popular cures for hot flashes didn’t pass muster in the NAMS report. They advise avoiding over-the-counter and herbal therapies (including black cohosh, dong quai, evening primrose, flaxseed, maca, omega-3s, pollen extract, and vitamins), general relaxation, calibration of neural oscillations (a brain-training technique), and chiropractic interventions as there is no scientific proof they help hot flashes and may have side effects that harm.