What are they?
"A hot flash is a sudden, intense feeling of heat in the face and upper body, often accompanied by an increased heart rate, sweating, dizziness, headache, weakness, or anxiety. Hot flashes are generally associated with the symptoms of menopause and premenopause." ~Connie & Alan Higley, in "Reference Guide for Essential Oils." They can last only a few seconds or off and on for hours. Hot flashes may last for 2 - 4 years after menstruation ends.
A night sweat is a hot flash that happens during the night. Although night sweats are often just a menopausal symptom, keep in mind that they could also be due to a more serious illness.
Who gets them?
About 75-80% of women in western cultures, at various stages of menopause, experience hot flashes to some extent. Incidences of hot flashes are much less common in non-western cultures, such as in Japan, Hong Kong, and Pakistan. (Could this be due to the S.A.D.--Standard American Diet? I'd say yes!)
What are they caused from?
Hot flashes and night sweats are thought to be caused from the body producing less estrogen and progesterone, due to menopause. This confuses the hypothalamus in the brain, which sends conflicting signals to the blood vessels to expand and contract, resulting in sudden bursts of increased and decreased circulation. Increased circulation causes heat.
Additionally, it is thought, and I agree, that the increased temperature might be the body's natural defense mechanism to kill off cancer cells and viruses, and to release toxins that might be trying to cause dis-ease.
What are triggers for hot flashes and night sweats?
Triggers for hot flashes and nights sweats can include spicy food, hot drinks, alcoholic beverages, caffeine, white sugar, table salt, stress, hot weather, hot tubs and saunas, tobacco and marijuana and anger, especially when unexpressed.
What can be done to alleviate them?
Of course it is obvious to stay away from the triggers that cause them. For me, getting my digestion under control, by avoiding dairy, gluten, and the above food triggers, as well as combining my food correctly, was what it took to almost completely eliminate them.
HRT (Hormonal Replacement Therapy) is known to cause disruption to the endocrine system, cancer risk, weight gain, heavy bleeding, PMS-like pain, severe leg cramps, migraine headaches, uterine and breast fibroids, and low libido. I'd say HRT is not something I will ever use.
Natural treatments can support the endocrine system, which is the system of organs that produce and regulate hormones. However, listen to the body while using them. It might be a good idea to work with someone who is familiar with the natural remedies you choose to use. That person can help decide how much of what to use.
Some suggestions that may help alleviate hot flashes are:
· Ginseng: Normalizes the body's response to hot and cold.
· Sage: Grounding herb. Can be taken as a tea.
· Vitamin E: "D-alpha tocopherol" means that it comes from a natural source, but "DL alpha" means it is a synthetic form of the vitamin.
· Black Cohosh: Highly effective in relieving hot flashes in women.
· Don Quai: Used to treat almost ever female gynecological ailment. Known as a blood purifier.
· Evening primrose: Cleanses the liver and kidneys. Is useful for treating inflammation associated with yang (heat related) conditions of the body. Also promotes restful sleep.
(All of the above herbs can be found in a local health food store of your choice.)
Other thoughts and ideas on hot flashes:
· Regular exercise increases endorphins, which are lowered during a hot flashes.
· Hot flashes rob the body of vitamin C, the B vitamins, magnesium, and potassium.
· Drink enough fresh, pure water--around a quart a day is a recommendation. (Lemon is cooling to the body, so adding a squeeze of lemon wedge or drop of lemon essential oil to the water might help too.)
· Essential oils thought to help with hot flashes and night sweats include peppermint, clary sage, bergamot, and fennel.
It is my thought that night sweats are a way for the body to rid itself of harmful toxins that may be increased during the different stages of menopause. Menopause is a time when the body is changing rapidly and it may have extra waste to get rid of due to all of the hormonal changes. Menopause is also a time when many women experience digestive problems, another reason why sweating might be needed to release waste and other toxins.
I hope this helps you!
Great Taste No Pain, by Sherry Brescia
Reference Guide for Essential Oils, by Connie and Alan Higley
Linda Page's Healthy Healing book
The Way of Herbs, by Michael Tierra
Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health
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