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Hot Flushes-Hot Flashes

When a woman reaches her late forties or early fifties, her periods grind to a halt. Menopause marks the move from the reproductive years to a cessation in fertility. This literally means that her supply of eggs, which is determined at birth, has been used up.

For some this change of life comes smoothly and all she notices is that she no longer has her periods. But for others, the change is more rocky and causes much distress with symptoms of hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and irritation, poor libido, frequent urinary tract infections, poor memory and concentration, fatigue, depression, headaches, weight gain and heart palpitations.

Nearly three-quarters of all menopausal women experience hot flushes which have been described as one of the most distressing symptoms.

Hot flushes (or hot flashes) come unexpectedly. It’s the sudden feeling of intense heat that one feels all over the face and upper body. The skin may turn red and the body starts to sweat. Hot flushes at night disturb a woman's sleep and can be so severe as to cause the bedding to be soaked in sweat.

Menopausal symptoms are attributed to a decline in estrogen which are mainly derived from the ovaries; estrogen is also produced from our adrenal glands and fat cells to compensate for the decline. By ensuring a well-balanced diet and lifestyle together with the help of herbs, this phase of a woman's life can be smooth sailing.

Eat foods that are rich in gentle plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) found in soy, flaxseed, seaweed, nuts, whole grains, apples, celery, parsley and alfalfa. Soya is one of the richest sources of phytoestrogens. A study on soy extract showed significant reduction in hot flushes within four weeks of consumption.

Apart from alleviating hot flushes, soy contains two isoflavones, genistein and daidzein which have been studied to prevent cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and cancer which are high risk factors in menopausal women. It seems that soy phytoestrogens are chemically similar to tamoxifen, the drug used to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer.

Other herbs scientifically shown to alleviate hot flushes are black cohosh, dong quai, red clover and sage. Black cohosh is an effective and proven herb for treating hot flushes and night sweats. Dong quai, no stranger in Chinese cuisine, when combined with black cohosh, has been shown to be effective in reducing hot flushes. According to traditional Chinese medicine, dong quai helps to restore balance in a woman's reproductive system by toning the uterus, nourishing the blood and stimulating a healthy circulation.

While its name does not indicate a family connection, red clover is actually part of the soy family. Similarly rich in isoflavones, red clover has been reported to be successful in reducing menopausal symptoms of hot flushes and night sweats. Recent evidence shows that red clover also has heart-protective benefits in menopausal women.

Sage, a common herb in western cooking contains antispasmodic (relaxation) and astringent (tightening) properties, which probably explain its usefulness in reducing excessive sweating and hot flushes.

During this change in life, fresh fruit and vegetables are truly a woman's best friend. They are rich in vitamin C that builds up collagen to prevent sagging skin and maintain bone mass. Vitamin C also helps in the prevention and treatment of vagina dryness and hot flushes.

Hot flashes are caused by the hormonal changes of menopause. A diminished level of estrogen has a direct effect on the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for controlling your appetite, sleep cycles, sex hormones, and body temperature. The drop in estrogen confuses the hypothalamus which triggers the hot flash as the body tries to adjust to the change.

Natural Alternatives for Hot Flushes-Hot Flashes

Black Cohosh

Black cohosh offsets this decline in estrogen by providing powerful plant compounds called phytoestrogens that mimic the hormones effects. These phytoestrogens bind to hormone receptors in the uterus, breast, and other part of the body, lessening hot flashes, vaginal dryness, headache, dizziness, depressive mood, and other hormone related symptoms as a result.

Soy Isoflavones

Soy isoflavones are phytochemicals (naturally occurring plant chemicals) in soy products. Some isoflavones, such as genistein and daidzein, exert mild estrogenic effects and are thus called phytoestrogens. Structurally similar to estrogen, soy isoflavones have the capacity to bind to empty estrogen receptors and relieve hormonally based symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes.

Bioidentical Progesterone with Phytoestrogens (Progensa Plus)

Contains both progesterone and phytoestrogens which work together to provide women more effective control of their menopausal symptoms.

Phytoestrogen Cream (EstroCare)

Phytoestrogens have been shown to subdue menopause symptoms by exerting a weak estrogen like response. Contains Red Clove, Chaste Tree Berry, Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Natural vitamin E and many other known helpful herbs.

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