HOLISTIC SOLUTIONS TO BEAT HORMONAL HEAT WAVES
One of my favorite funny stories was told by a friend from Memphis. Here’s her account of a hormone-fueled, inferno moment when all bets and clothes were off. (Feel free to channel her Southern accent as you read it.)
“My stars, Becca. When I had my first hot flash I was making breakfast for the kids, who were both in their early teens. I had to start ripping off clothes. They were screaming. I was screaming. Even the landscaper, who I didn’t realize was in my backyard, was screaming. I think even our dog was screaming. It was horrible and hysterical all at the same time.”
Though her story might leave you laughing, too, hot flashes for many women is no laughing matter. According to Dr. Kristi Blessitt of Vitality Medical Spa, once women reach the peri-menopausal or menopausal years, typically around the age of 45 to 50, a variety of physiological changes and symptoms can occur that may have a profound impact on their lives.
“Menopause is a term that refers to the cessation of menstruation for 12 consecutive months as the result of the natural decline in female sex hormones produced in the ovaries,” Blessitt said. “As hormone levels decrease, a number of symptoms of menopause may emerge, although their presentation and severity varies greatly from woman to woman.”
The most common menopause symptoms are depression, insomnia, vaginal dryness — accompanied sometimes by a decreased libido — irritability, mood swings, foggy thinking, headaches, and hot flashes.
“The risks and benefits of estrogen replacement therapy should be carefully considered, and many women do quite well without any medical intervention for menopause treatment,” Blessitt said. “Women who do have symptoms can sometimes get through this stage of their life without prescription medication by making a few lifestyle changes or adding a few supplements to their daily regimen.”
A holistic health care professional like Blessit can offer women suffering from peri-menopausal or menopausal symptoms a full list of treatment options, which might also included testing to pinpoint specific hormonal imbalances.
Here are some of Blessitt’s top solutions:
- FOLLOW AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET
Cutting out processed foods, artificial sweeteners, wine and alcohol, and soda can diminish hot flashes dramatically in some women.
- LAYER CLOTHING
For times of increased body temperature, try layering your clothing and wearing sweat-wicking fabrics.
- EXERCISE AND RELAX
Aerobic exercise helps with weight and stress management, as well as bone health. Relaxation practices can help address the many practical problems that menopause can bring. For example, yoga combines the advantages of both exercise and relaxation, with the added benefit of spiritual strengthening.
- TRY SPECIFIC FOODS, SUPPLEMENTS AND ESSENTIAL OILS
It’s important to consult a doctor like Blessitt before adding a supplement or essential oil to your diet. You also should be comfortable being your own health advocate, asking your doctor important questions about your health and concerns.
Here are a few of the supplements and oils Blessitt likes:
• Dong quai
• Black cohash
• Vitamin E
• B vitamins
• Clary sage
• Peppermint oil
• Neroli oil
- EXPLORE ACUPUNCTURE
One study found that acupuncture lowered the frequency and severity of menopausal women by one-third. The acupuncture group reported 36.7 percent fewer hot flashes per day than the control group, whose symptoms increased over the study period by 6 percent. The result lasted for a minimum of six months. The therapy also helped with pain in the back, neck, and knees, as well as migraines and tension headaches.
Becca Edwards is a wellness professional, freelance writer, and owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE (bewellbecreative.com).