Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been the most used treatment for menopausal weight gain and hot flashes.
The problem is that HRT has been shown in studies to have many risks including cancer and heart disease. Two of the most common menopausal issues are hot flashes and weight gain. Until recently, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) had been the most used treatment.
Some of my favorite alternative solutions include Chinese herbs and Acupuncture as well as balancing the tastes and temperatures of many foods.
Naturally Treating Menopausal Hot Flashes
1. Consider Chinese Herbal Formulas
Many women around the world have begun to discover what women in China have been using for hundreds of years -Chinese Herbal Formulas.
Since they are plant-based, herbal formulas have few side effects and are very effective in reducing, if not eliminating entirely hot flashes. They also have estrogenic effects which can actually balance hormones. [1. Source].
“Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan” is an example of a classic formula that we have modified in my clinic called "Heat Relief" thus creating a more powerful contemporary herbal formula for menopause. It's best used together with "Heat Balancer" to also balance hormones. "Heat Relief" is focused on the symptoms of heat and getting them under control, then you add in the balancer to address the hormones.
Of note here is to let westerners know that herbs are gentle so you have to take more of them but they seldom have side effects. A normal dose can be 6 capsules, 3 times a day.
Heat Relief cools blood and clears empty heat, while also nourishing Yin deficiency. Here are some of the Chinese herbs in it: Huang Bai, Fu Ling, Ze Xie, Shan Zhu Yu, Mu Dan Pi, Shu Di Huang, Zhi Mu, Mai Dong, Wui Wei Zi, Di Huang.
The other note is for a smaller group of women who are experience hot flashes but then return to feeling a bit cold afterwards, they seem to want to put the covers back on or put a sweater on. Most menopausal women don't experience this but there is a group who do and for them "Women's Hot/Cold Balancer" is the best formula for them.
2. Try Acupuncture
A recent study suggests the frequency and severity of hot flashes are reduced by Acupuncture. [2 Source]
The energy of the body that builds tissue, controls fertility and nourishes the fluids resides in the Kidneys. As we age this energy decreases leading to Kidney Yin deficiency and the accompanying symptoms of night sweats, dryness and hot flashes. Acupuncture helps to regulate hormones, nourish Yin and balance energy.
In addition to feeling relief from their symptoms, they also have a release of stress and a feeling of relaxation.
3. Try adding balancing foods into your diet
Night sweats and hot flashes may not stop with one new food, but in combination, the following foods should create some nice improvements.
Tastes of foods have been used in traditional medicines for many years. The bitter Gentian root or Long Dan Cao in Chinese Medicine is often used in Europe to build digestion. To disperse heat in Chinese Medicine, bitter foods are often used.
Foods such as pumpkin, turnips, asparagus, celery, kale and adzuki beans are bitter in nature.
The first word of advice in this category is to combine warm foods with cooling foods for balance. If too much cold food is eaten it can cause an imbalance in the qi of the stomach and spleen energy and cause diarrhea.
In Chinese Medicine I advise my patients to follow cold foods with a cup of hot water with a small piece of ginger. Ginger is warm in nature but won’t overheat and actually aids in digestion. Some cold foods are romaine lettuce, cabbage, carrots,cauliflower and celery.
Studies indicate that soy has a positive effect for women during menopause. [3. Source] It can increase estrogen in the body due to the phytoestrogens it contains. We like sprouted or fermented soy sourced from non-gmo and unprocessed beans in soy yogurt, tempeh, miso or tofu.