If you do a little research online about hot flashes, you’ll find pretty dismal explanations of why they happen and how to treat them.
It’s a lot of “we’re not really sure, this is our best guess” and “you might have these for awhile, no telling when they’ll stop”.
This lack of understanding, clear explanation, and quite frankly, empathy for a very frustrating experience can be disheartening.
It’s unnerving when we don’t feel like we have control of our own body.
Something we usually never think about -- temperature regulation -- is suddenly at the forefront of our minds as we experience flushes of heat several times a day and sometimes throughout the night.
What's the deal?
Well, naturopathic medicine can explain exactly WHY these flashes happens AND give you tools that work with your body to quell this distressing feeling.
That's right, there's a perfectly reasonable explanation! Your body isn’t silly or stupid for making you feel uncomfortable.
The core philosophy of naturopathic medicine revolves around the idea that the body is inherently wise about how to regulate and heal itself.
So what on earth could your body be telling you?
And how you do respond by addressing THE ROOT CAUSE of this imbalance and not just decreasing symptoms (which, by the way, will make things worse in the long run)?
Check out my video to learn:
- Just how common hot flashes are for women (you're not alone!)
- The 2 reasons WHY your body creates the symptom of hot flashes in peri-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause
- How to interpret WHAT your body is telling you through naturopathic medicine, which believes the body is inherently wise in its ability to regulate and heal itself
- 3 root issues you can address that will significantly decrease or eliminate your hot flashes and balance your hormones
Here are the links that I mentioned in the video!
My #1 Recommendation For Better Sleep (salt baths)
Full Video Transcript
Have you or someone you know experienced hot flashes?
They're an incredibly common symptom for women in peri-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause.
In the video today, I'm going to tell you my top three tips for decreasing hot flashes and getting rid of them for good. These are all things that you can do right now at home.
Hot flashes are one of the most common menopausal symptoms and that includes the peri-menopause time before your period has totally stopped, menopause which is typically defined after you've had a full 12 months without a period, and post-menopause.
Hot flashes can be really, really frustrating in that they have no set time period or agenda.
They just kind of keep happening and they can happen for years after menopause has taken place, depending on what's going on in the body.
They're the most common symptom women report about menopause along with fatigue and joint pain, memory loss, brain fog, mood disorders, lots of up and down with anxiety and depression, all kinds of things.
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about how to decrease hot flashes if you already have them.
We're not really working on the preventative end today, which is what I usually like to do. However, all of the tips that I'm about to give you can work preventatively too.
If you're concerned that this might be a problem, and it is likely, it is the most common symptom for people to have come up, feel free to dive in with these tips and start helping out your system ahead of time to see if you can stave off some of the hot flash symptoms that come up.
Today we are talking about active hot flashes, but again, they can help in general with hormonal regulation, all of these lovely tips. Yeah, so let's dive in.
I wanted to give you a little bit of a background about hot flashes in general, in that 75% of women experience hot flashes. That is a ton, right?
It's definitely the most common thing to come up for people and it's all over the map.
Sometimes it's short, sometimes it's long, sometimes it's just a night, sometimes it's throughout the day.
I've had people tell me that they have one and two a day or up to 50 or 100 if they count them, very short little flashes. It's very difficult because it comes out of the blue. We can't predict it.
Sometimes we can figure out some triggers that they're related to. Spicy foods can be one.
Anxiety, emotional stress, all of that can play into hot flashes. That's usually kind of how we hear about dealing with them, right. Just remove the triggers.
Today I'm going to get into a few more things that can actually help beyond those triggers.
Not just avoiding things, but things you can actively do to reduce the frequency of those hot flashes. Again, we're not focusing on supplements today, just on easy, quick things that cost you nothing that you can do right from the comfort of your own home.
Then, I just wanted to check in here too. About 80% of women have these hot flashes for two years or less.
Two years of not being able to control your temperature. It's a little bit crazy.
It can be hard on their partners too. If they're married or they're in a relationship where they're throwing off the covers at night or they have to walk outside or they want the temperature in the house kept really, really cold.
It's funny, if their partner is male, oftentimes a few years later men go through something called andropause and that's their body temperature will actually decrease quite a bit.
You kind of get this opposite affect where I think a lot of women run cold, and then men run warm, then that kind of switches later in life. It's an interesting time, definitely.
I really feel for women that go through this. It's very difficult. My mom has gone through this. We've done some coaching around the things that I'm going to talk about here, as well as some other things, if you need a little more support. These are really the core to help out, so let's move on to the next part here.
I wanted to talk a little bit about why hot flashes happen. If you do some research online or WebMD, or whatever you like to look at, you get kind of the, "We have no idea where it's coming from. We think it's related to the circulatory system. Avoid spicy foods."
That's really what you're going to find there and that can be very frustrating.
From a naturopathic medicine perspective, there is a very obviously reason why these hot flashes happen. I wanted to talk about why they do to give you a little education there so you can think about it, apply that to your life, and then really try to adapt and improve maybe some of those areas in your life that are contributing to these uncomfortable symptoms.
The interesting first one, the big reason in naturopathic medicine that we look at, from kind of this overall, whole person, whole health perspective, is a lack of discharge or toxic burden.
I use the term toxic kind of loosely. I don't mean that you're toxic and there's really, really bad stuff built up there. Sometimes there is, but roll with me here on that. I'll get into it in a minute. Discharge is a really, really important term in naturopathic medicine. It's incredibly crucial for us for health. It's something that if you are my patient, I talk about all the time.
Yeah, discharge, inherently, is uncomfortable, right? When we talk about discharge, we've got sneezing, coughing, urination, bowel movements, maybe diarrhea if things are moving too quickly, anxiety, stress coming up out of the blue, all of that.
Discharge, when it happens, never really feels good in the moment and they're typically symptoms that we want to suppress. We don't want to feel discharge because it's freaking uncomfortable, right? It's not fun, but that is how we heal. We have to get this ball of stuff that's irritating our system out and that is exactly what you're body is doing.
It's a really nice way to look at how your body is working for you in a positive way. It's not stupid, it's not dumb, you're not fighting it with these symptoms and, oh my gosh, I feel so bad.
It's doing an amazing amount of work for you because it's saying, "Hey, we've got all this stuff that's sitting here that I don't want sitting here because it's making it harder for me to do my job and for you to feel good, so I am going to move it on out."
Sometimes we get acutely sick and it moves it out, sometimes again, we have diarrhea or loose stools or we need to urinate a lot, something like that. There's always this discharge that will happen to clear the body.
Oftentimes, after we discharge, we feel so much better, if we treated it naturally.
What I mean by that is we have not suppressed the discharge. The discharge is almost always suppressed in western medicine. That's its theory is to take these symptoms and to push them down and make them go away, but they don't ever really go away.
We've only stopped our recognition of them. That process is still happening in the body, whatever it is, immune, metabolic, detoxification, it's still happening on top of the suppression. At this point your body's fighting two things. It's fighting the suppressive medication and it's fighting whatever illness or discharge is going on.
Unfortunately, if we suppress hard enough, the discharge isn't released at all, or it's released a very little bit, but we hold on to this crap and it just continues to accumulate and accumulate and accumulate over a lifetime.
It's really, really unhealthy for our systems. Discharge is vital to us feeling good and to us feeling better. Even though it really sucks going through it, it is worthwhile, I promise.
When we're looking at menopause as a lack of discharge. What happens in menopause? The period stops.
That is a massive amount of discharge that all of the sudden is just cut off. The period for women every month, or cycle is mental, emotional, and physical discharge. We see that come out with blood as a physical discharge. As mental and emotional, we see that in PMS, mood swings, all these other symptoms that come up.
Just a little thought process about the PMS mood swings, I had a professor talk to me about the moods and the emotions that come up around the period are the ones that we have actively not dealt with throughout the month, or maybe even longer into our history if we've been suppressing for a long time.
I really, really like that viewpoint because I think there's this crazy notion that women are insane around their period and they're just so illogical and you can't deal with them, and I think women feel really bad about that.
If you really reflect on where those emotions are coming from, it's incredibly helpful. You can always connect the dot. If you're sad one month, or you're angry, look back on that month and see what happened, what caused that.
Your body's never creating those symptoms just to create those symptoms. It would much rather be doing what you would like to be doing. Resting, eating, drinking, getting exercise, getting sunshine, all of these really basic things that make us feel so good.
Anyway, I'm getting a little bit off track there with the emotional bit, but it is really important. This this discharge, this monthly discharge is cut off, pretty quickly.
All of the sudden, it's just not there anymore. We have this natural, new amount of buildup that's happening and it depends on how we've treated our body throughout our life.
If we've been really good about discharging, not suppressing, actively working on our emotions and physical health with good diet, water, exercise, this lack of discharge this way isn't going to be a huge shift for people.
They will experience less menopause symptoms because they've got other outlets for the discharge to happen. They have coping mechanisms around mental health, physical exercise outlet. Maybe they're sweating and drinking water, all kinds of good stuff that way.
The problem comes when we don't have other outlets of discharge open. Maybe our body has realized that over time and its shunted almost all of its discharge to the period.
That usually happens when a lot of women get really significant PMS and really heavy, painful periods because the body is saying, "Hey, I've got to get this out. This happens every month. I am shunting it through the reproductive system because that's the only system that's open to me."
When that is shut off, again, there's this huge buildup of discharge that needs to be released, but it doesn't have its outlet anymore through the reproductive system. Then it starts to come out in other ways, which we see in menopausal symptoms and most commonly, hot flashes.
That kind of covers that. What I mean by toxic burden is all of that discharge that's built up. Your body doesn't want it there, you don't want it there, and it is going to get it out.
It's going to make you uncomfortable to move it out because you're going to feel better and you're going to be healthier on the other side. Sometimes we just don't really recognize that because maybe discharge routes are cut off and there's just little bits of it that eek out. We really want to enhance our ability to discharge. That's a big one.
The next one, looking a little bit more physiological, biomedicine, or biochemical standpoint is adrenal health. What happens here, what's really interesting biologically in menopause is that the ovaries are the ones the produce estrogen and progesterone. They're your main sex hormone producing organs.
In menopause, the essentially shut down. They do still produce a little bit of that hormone, but not the majority of it. Yes, our hormone levels do decrease in menopause, but they're always still there.
Who takes over for the ovaries? The adrenal glands.
I know we've heard a lot about adrenal glands and adrenal health and typically we have not taken very good care of our adrenal glands. They're stressed out. They haven't had as much nourishment as they needed throughout their lifetime, and the adrenal glands are the really, really heavy lifters in terms of endocrine or hormonal production in the body. They have three different cores, which is pretty crazy.
The outer core deals with water and salt metabolism, which is pretty important, helping the kidneys out there. The next core is the one that we hear the most about. It produces the hormone cortisol, which is not all bad. It's really important because it helps to regulate our blood sugar if it's dipping or spiking.
It just happens to get released a lot more nowadays than it should because our adrenals are overstimulated because we don't have enough white space in our life. We're stressed out, running around all the time. The adrenals are really getting worked very hard.
Then that center part, the very core of the adrenal glands, does produce sex hormones. The ovaries are producing a lot of estrogen and progesterone before menopause and the adrenals were kind of here, then when menopause happens it shifts a little bit where the ovaries really drop off and then the adrenal glands pick up the slack.
If we have not treated our adrenal glands well, they have a really hard time producing these sex hormones on a regular basis. We kind of get, instead of this nice, slow, kind of release of these hormones throughout the menstrual cycle, there are different peaks and valleys in these hormones, but it's never kind of like this up and down spike and drop that happens.
However. If our adrenal glands are stressed and they're already doing so much else, that is literally what happens. They cannot produce these hormones in a nice, even pace, so they'll kind of release bunch and then let go, and they'll release a bunch and then they'll let go. When you get these ups and downs, that's where a lot of the menopause symptoms come from, with mood swings, energy spikes or crashes, and hot flashes.
The more we can help our adrenals out the better. This is kind of a bonus tip. I do love adrenal support. That's one of my favorite things to encourage people to do. It's going to help you throughout your lifetime and even into menopause, so not necessarily abdicating for that in this video.
Focusing on some other things, but just a little bonus tip. It can be really, really helpful. I hope that sheds some light onto why these hot flashes actually happen. Where, yes it is related to your circulatory system, of course. We can see that, but that's not kind of the end all, be all and these are the larger reasons why.
We can see that flash and that sweat that comes out, that is the discharge. That is how your body is choosing to release it, which is actually amazing because sweat is the safest way to remove irritants.
If you watched my detox video last week, you might have gotten kind of earful about that. I love to repeat myself because it's all just really important stuff. I'll put a link to that in the notes here, if you want to go back and check out my detox video. That's part of how the body shunts out this material is through the skin, through the sweat.
All right, let's move on here to ... See if I can get this off. Okay. Decreasing the hot flashes. I just wanted to talk about the things that we'll cover today, the three tips will address all of the issues around hot flashes. Timing, frequency, severity, and intensity, which vary greatly from person to person.
Naturopathic medicine just sees it all as one big, okay, we need to address these larger issues like detox and adrenal health and some sweating. Western medicine tends to break it out like this. If you were thinking in these terms like, "Well, what if I have really intense hot flashes, or what if they're happening 100 times a day, is this really going to help me?" Yes. That is the beauty of naturopathic medicine. When you are treating the whole, you address everything. That's the wonderful bit about it. All of these things should help anybody with any type of hot flashes.
Let's get into things here. Let's check it out. Tip number one, you might have already guessed, sweat. Now you're probably thinking, "Wait a minute, hot flashes are already making me sweat. I don't understand."
Yes. You are totally right, and we just talked about sweat being the safest way to detoxify and we've clearly got buildup that the body wants to get rid of. That is the message that your body is sending you when there are hot flashes. "Hey, we've got buildup. I got to get it out. I can't wait."
I think about hot flashes and migraines and other things like diarrhea, whatnot, discharge that has to happen at that moment, means that you have not paid attention to the body, or in diarrhea, maybe you have an acute illness, GI sickness that way, so we'll throw that one out.
You haven't paid attention, so the body's like, "Hey, I'm going to do this right now. You're clearly not dealing with it, so I am going to shut you down," in the case of a migraine, or, "I'm going to make you sweat," in the case of a hot flash, "in order to get this stuff out that I need out that I need out."
Sweating will help with discharge, and to release toxicity. It's getting out that burden that your body doesn't want in there anymore since that reproductive cycle has been cut off. It can't release it through the period.
Taking back the sweating into your own hands is the key here. Yes, you are sweating with the hot flashes. However, they come at any time and they're pretty annoying because they come at any time. Take back that control and do what your body is saying. It's sending you really strong messages, "You need to sweat. You need to sweat. This is what's happening, you need to sweat." We just don't listen to them. We just get annoyed.
Let's reframe that and say, hey, okay, I need to sweat. Go ahead. If you sweat during the day and you carve out a little time to be able to sweat, it will decrease the frequency and intensity, severity, all kinds of good stuff about the hot flashes whenever you have them.
That is key. If you carve out time to sweat, you will have less hot flashes because you are heating your body. You're listening. You're sweating. You're getting things out. It doesn't need to do the massive override button and say, "Okay, we're going to do this now. I don't care if you're in the middle of a meeting. I don't care what's happening," whatever it's motivations are at that point.
I'd have to say too, about the timing of some of the hot flashes, if you're getting them at night, I generally think that the night sweats are a little bit more severe than hot flashes during the day because again, you think about sleep as this incredibly crucial function and you need it to rest and restore and recover and heal.
If your body thinks that this is urgent enough that it is waking you up in the middle of the night, this is a really big deal. Generally, the progression that I see for people in terms of improvement is for night sweats to clear up first because again, your body really wants to rest and sleep. Then, for the ones in the day to clear up. Not always, but that is often how it happens because your body would much rather have uninterrupted sleep to heal and detoxify and help you out and then during the day you might have some residual ones, but hopefully not.
I hope that explains why sweat is so important. How to sweat, I love the infrared sauna. I realize that's not entirely practical for everybody, but if it is, go for it. Those are the dry saunas, not the wet saunas. Of course exercise is kind of going to be a really accessible one, really great and easy to do that way. Another is to do Epsom salt baths, which I did a video on a while ago and I will put a link to that in the comments. I kind of framed it around sleep, but it does give you the basics on how to take an Epsom salt bath. If you make it a little bit toasty, you can sweat in that.
All right, let's move on to tip number two for decreasing hot flashes. Number two is to decrease alcohol. We can see why we need to decrease alcohol here.
We need to decrease inflammation in general where alcohol is very inflammatory to the system. Then, we need to increase liver function. I hope you guys can read that. I think so. We know that alcohol is processed through the liver and then the other bit that happens there is that hormones are also processed through the liver.
If we're putting this extra burden on our liver, it's really decreasing this ability to process hormones properly and then they can kind of back up into our system and cause more of these uncomfortable symptoms to happen. Even if we're not talking about hormones, we can see that the liver processing inflammation and that toxic burden that's in the body really needs as much help as it can. Alcohol, we know, can really take a lot of resources away from that liver detoxifying and working properly.
Alcohol is also dehydrating which is not something we want to do if we've already got this irritation and inflammation built up in the system that's causing hot flashes to break through.
We want to stay away from things that are dehydrating and inflammatory. This goes so far as foods and food allergies as well, but alcohol can be a massive one. I've had people cut out alcohol and their hot flashes go away overnight. It can be very gratifying in that it's kind of a one to one. If the alcohol is the major inflammatory burden that's happening and you take it out, your body will clean that up really quickly and then it will start to self-regulate and you might not have any hot flashes at all.
I did put decrease alcohol. I realize it might be very difficult to cut it out, but I'd say, if you're willing to test it out, really do try to take it out for a week or two, or until your hot flashes are not present for at least three days. I would even go to five if you could.
That will give you a really clear picture of, okay, all right, I see what she's saying here rather than kind of trying it one day and then going back to another and not really getting a clear symptom picture. Then, if you're away from it for at least five days. A week would be ideal, or two weeks, then you kind of add the alcohol back in, see how you feel. See what happens. Sometimes it will cause one right away. Sometimes it takes a few days for that inflammatory burden to build back up and to cause hot flashes.
It is really worth examining, even if you're a little bit resistant. Just look at it as an experiment, you know, and short term, and then if it needs to turn into something more long term for you, great. Life happens, you're not always going to be completely alcohol free if it's something that you enjoy, but it is good to clear the plate, so to speak, so you can get a really clear picture of how it affects you and when you might want to have it, rather than it might be less frequent than currently.
Okay. All right. Let's move on to the last tip here. You guys might have already guessed it. It's one of my favorites. I talk about it a lot. Drink more water. Drinking water is super, super crucial, of course.
Again, I talked about it in my detoxification video a lot. Number one, we are going to improve circulation, which is key for moving inflammatory byproducts out of the system. Usually circulation to an area is really great because our arteries are a high pressure system, so they get nutrients there right away. However, the veins are a low pressure system for return.
It's much harder to get things out than it is to get things in, which kind of makes sense because we'd certainly go on living quite easily with all that good nutrient circulation coming in. There is a buildup that happens in that tissue space and sometimes in the cells over time if we don't have great venous return or we don't have enough fluid to actually move out all of that inflammation, it can be a big deal.
Most people really are chronically dehydrated. I also have a video on how much water to drink if you're interested. I'll put it in the link below. Not only are we going to increase circulation, we're also going to decrease irritation and we're going to increase detoxification, which I didn't put on here.
We'll decrease irritation, of course, by moving those inflammatory byproducts out in a more timely fashion. The faster that moves out to the liver, to the kidneys, maybe to the skin, if you're sweating, the better. We're going to have less buildup and you'll be feeling better overall.
Of course, moving things out through the kidney, through water, really important to keep that diluted as much as possible so A, you make sure you're getting a lot of it out. B, you're not irritating the kidneys with all the stuff that's having to be processed through if you're chronically dehydrated.
Water is fantastic. Usually I like to recommend half your body weight in ounces per day at a minimum, and more if you're exercising and more if you're sweating. This one is particularly important if you take that sweating tip number one to heart. You really, really do need to increase that water and I think you'll feel better overall.
Okay. All right. That is it for today. I hope you guys enjoyed it. Feel free to leave me any questions if you'd like.
Otherwise, I really hope this is helpful. I hope it's helpful for someone in your life. I talk about these things and they're so kind of simple and intuitive, I think people wonder, is this really what she talks about with her patients? I don't know, I'm sure there's a fancy supplement that's better. No. This is really what I talk about. You guys are getting in the visit 101 here.
These are really my top tips because again, diet and lifestyle is going to make a much larger impact than any supplement you could ever do. I know that supplements are easier. It's just a pill, but these are the larger changes that are going to improve not only hot flash symptoms, but your overall health and well-being for the rest of your life.