Here at Howard County Holistic Center, we love summer. It’s a wonderful time for getting out in the fresh air, working and playing in healthy ways, enjoying the balmy breezes and warm sunshine.
However, when our clients walk in from the summertime heat, wringing wet from the heat of their “personal summers,” we’re quick to recognize – this is way too much of a good thing!
Truth is, hot flashes are a bit of a mystery to Western medical science. Mainstream medicine has established that declining estrogen can cause problems in the body’s system for controlling and regulating body temperature. Exactly how this works, however, they don’t know. Men can have hot flashes, and even in women the problem isn’t limited to perimenopause. Some of the common causes can include:
- Stress: when you experience a “stress reaction,” your body releases adrenaline into your bloodstream, causing blood flow to increase, and thereby raising your temperature.
- Coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods: these can also help to open your blood vessels and trigger hot flashes.
- Obesity and cigarettes: both of these increase susceptibility.
So what’s to be done? The average GYN, working with a patient who’s facing The Change, will recommend either hormone therapy, bioidentical hormone therapy, or other pharmaceutical treatments. Complementary medicine offers a wider range of options:
- Isoflavones (plant-based estrogens found in foods such as soy, chickpeas and lentils, and some supplements).
- Chinese herbs (licorice root, Panax ginseng, black cohosh, wild yams, and some others)
- Bodywork (massage therapy, shiatsu)
- Exercise (Yoga, tai chi, Qi gong)
- Stress reduction techniques (meditation, visualization, breathing techniques)
While neither mainstream nor complementary medicine offers a magical quick cure for hot flashes, you can begin to work on reducing their intensity today, while you build your knowledge of your body’s responses. As with any complex physical condition, true healing is a process that can take time…we suggest you take the journey gently, with as few chemically-caused side effects to your body as possible!