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8 Home Remedies for Hot Flashes That Really Work

The average woman will experience seven YEARS of hot flashes. Here's how to deal drug-free.

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What helps hot flashes: Think your hot flashes away

Simply wishing your hot flashes weren’t real won’t work, but a double-blind, controlled study (the best kind), published in Menopause, found that using a mental technique called cognitive behavioral therapy was effective at diminishing both hot flashes and night sweats. CBT is a simple type of psychological therapy you can do on your own that works by challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive ones. In this case the women were taught to change their beliefs about how well they could cope with and control their hot flashes. Sound too simple to work? The researchers reported that CBT worked significantly regardless of a participant’s age, body mass index, menopause status, or psychological factors. Don’t miss these other early warning signs of perimenopause.

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What helps hot flashes: Set up your ideal sleep situation

Hot flashes and night sweats can wake women up as often as every hour, leaving them a sweaty, shaky, tired mess the next day, according to the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. Unsurprisingly, this can make women grouchy and depressed. But while you may not be able to stop your hot flashes, practicing good “sleep hygiene” can reduce them. The researchers recommend keeping your room cool at night; avoiding hot showers or baths at least two hours before bed; eating a small bedtime snack, preferably one rich in vitamin E like almonds; and ditching caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.  Here are other sleep-better techniques experts wish you knew.

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What helps hot flashes: Hypnosis

One study published in Menopause found that women who had just six session of hypnosis experienced 56 fewer hot flashes per week compared to only 12 less for a control group who was simply taught an attention technique. Even better, the women in the hypnosis group reported that the hot flashes they did have were less severe than before.

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What helps hot flashes: Weight loss

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way in reducing the discomforts of menopause, according to a recent study done by Baylor University. The researchers assigned women experiencing at least four hot flashes a day to two groups: One designed to help the participants lose weight and a control group. After six months, the dieting women had lost an average of 19 pounds and reported their hot flashes to be significantly less. The women who lost the most weight experienced the most relief, the researchers noted.

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What helps hot flashes: Mindfulness

Stress can make your hot flashes worse, but a study published in Menopause discovered a particular stress-reduction technique that can help: mindfulness-based stress reduction. MBSR focuses on meditation and staying present even while in pain or distress. Women trained in MBSR experienced an immediate reduction in hot flash intensity, insomnia, anxiety, and stress levels while also improving their overall quality of life, the researchers reported.

soy supplementsiStock/Jason Reekie

What helps hot flashes: Soy supplements

There are many, many supplements that claim to ease hot flashes but evidence is mixed about their effectivenesss, according to The North American Menopause Society. One exception, however, is a soy-based supplement called S-equol. In a randomized, controlled study published in the Journal of Women’s Health, researchers found that women who took 10 mg of S-equol had significantly fewer hot flashes than women on a placebo. As an added bonus it also appeared to reduce muscle and joint pain.

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What helps hot flashes: Acupuncture

Most people don’t love needles but acupuncture, a type of therapy where many small needles are inserted at certain points into the body, may be an effective treatment for hot flashes, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.  The study was done on breast cancer survivors as they often experience hormone-related hot flashes but aren’t good candidates for traditional drug therapies. After eight weeks of weekly treatments, the researchers found that women who got electro-acupuncture (a type where a small electrical current is run through the needles) had far fewer hot flashes than people who took a prescription medication for hot flashes or people who got a placebo version of the acupuncture. The best part? The benefit lasted even after the treatment stopped.

women doing yogaiStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

What helps hot flashes: Exercise

The North American Menopause Society recently did a meta analysis of all the research into treatments for hot flashes in an attempt to separate the old wives’ tales from cold, hard science. Surprisingly, the group says there is no scientific evidence supporting exercise or yoga as effective treatments. But don’t ditch your daily jog just yet. Exercise is one of the best “medicines” we have and has a multitude of health benefits, including ones that might reduce hot flashes like weight loss, improved sleep, and stress reduction. Regardless of the effect on your hot flashes, it’s still totally worth your time and effort to get out and get moving. Here are exercise motivation tricks you haven’t tried yet.

Sources
  • Menopause: Cognitive-behavior therapy for menopausal symptoms (hot flushes and night sweats): moderators and mediators of treatment effects.
  • UCLA Sleep Disorders Center: Sleep and Women
  • Menopause: Clinical Hypnosis in the Treatment of Post-Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Menopause: Behavioral weight loss for the management of menopausal hot flashes: a pilot study
  • Menopause: Mindfulness Training for Coping with Hot Flashes: Results of a Randomized Trial
  • North American Menopause Society: Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes
  • Journal of Women's Health: A pilot study on the effects of S-equol compared to soy isoflavones on menopausal hot flash frequency.
  • Journal of Clinical Oncology: Electroacupuncture Versus Gabapentin for Hot Flashes Among Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial
  • Menopause: Nonhormonal management of menopause-associated vasomotor symptoms: 2015 position statement of The North American Menopause Society.
Medically reviewed by Tia Jackson-Bey, MD, on October 01, 2019
Originally Published in Reader's Digest