If you’ve ever experienced menopausal hot flashes, you know how much they can interfere with everyday life. These bouts of intense, uncomfortable heat come out of nowhere and usually have no external source. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, and may occur many times in a single day—or even a single hour! Usually, hot flashes are characterized by redness, flushing, sweating, and a raised heart rate. Research has not yet pinpointed the exact cause of these episodes, though most doctors agree that they are likely caused by the hormonal fluctuation associated with menopause.
For years, medical professionals automatically recommended hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as the best treatment for frequent, severe hot flashes. But as further research indicates dangerous long-term effects of HRT, more doctors are beginning to suggest lifestyle changes and natural treatments as a way of managing hot flashes and other hormonal symptoms.
1. Black cohosh
In 2001, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology approved the short-term use of black cohosh as a treatment for symptoms of menopause. Also known as Acaeta racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa, black snakewort, or bugbane, black cohosh is a plant native to North America. It is in the buttercup family and has been used as an alternative to estrogen replacement in treating menopausal hot flashes. Studies show that it helps reduce both the frequency of hot flashes and the increased sweating that often accompanies the menopause.