|Ask The Expert|
|Written by Dr Andrea Gansner|
Q: I’m suffering from unbearable hot flashes, which are affecting my sleep and mood. Is there anything I can do to manage these symptoms, naturally?
A: Yes, there are several factors which may need to be considered. Hot flashes are the most common concern of early menopausal women in my office. Hot flashes affect 75% of menopausal North American women. Hot flashes are a sudden feeling of warmth felt in the chest, neck, and face that spreads over the entire body and can be followed by sweating and sometimes dizziness. These sensations can be a cause of great discomfort and affect mood and sleep quality in many women.
Uncovering imbalances by analyzing symptoms and performing lab tests are essential to understanding hormonal issues. Many hormones in the body interact covertly and therefore testing is crucial to determine these interactions.
In my practice, I recommend a variety of treatment strategies that are tailored to the specific patient’s needs. Often, I advise my patients to avoid common triggers, such as: hot drinks, spicy foods, alcohol, foods containing histamine (cheese and red wine), chocolate, caffeine, stress, red meat, peanuts, shellfish, and dairy to decrease the hot flashes.
In addition to avoiding these foods, I have my patients incorporate flax seeds into their diet. Ground flax seeds contain the polyphenols, lignans, which have been found to alter estrogen’s effects or metabolism in the body. They are also a fantastic source of fibre, which slows the absorption of foods, balances blood sugars and increases feelings of satiety.
There are also herbal treatments commonly used for hot flashes. These medicinal plants have been shown to decrease sweating, sleep disturbances, tension, mood swings, and low libido in early menopausal women.
Finally, depending on the extent of the symptoms or hormonal imbalances, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can be a powerful option. BHRT is the therapeutic use of hormones that are identical to the hormones produced naturally in the body, which act to return the system to balance.
If you are wondering about what treatments are right for you, make an appointment with a health care provider specially trained in the management of menopausal symptoms.