Hot flashes are a feeling of excessive heat, usually felt in the upper body. You may feel intense flushing of the face, neck and chest, which may be accompanied by redness. When skin goes red, this is your body’s attempt at cooling itself by dilating the blood vessels more and allowing heat to escape from the surface of the skin. A loss of too much body heat through the skin may lead to a chilled feeling after a hot flash. See our article on menopause for further information
Hot flashes can feel different between individuals. Other symptoms of a hot flash may include:
Note: If these symptoms seem severe or are a source of discomfort to you, or if you are experiencing palpitations, please consult your doctor.
Hot flashes could potentially be caused by other medical conditions; however, menopause is the leading cause of this symptom in women, typically over the age of 45. They may also occur in those who have early menopause, which is typically due to treatment such as hysterectomy[i]. Hot flashes affect approximately three-quarters of all women in perimenopause (the time leading up to menopause)[ii]. Read more on menopause here.
Very rarely, hot flashes and night sweats are caused by something other than menopause. Other potential causes include medication side effects, problems with your thyroid, certain types of cancer and side effects of medical treatments.
Night sweats are hot flashes that happen at night, which may disrupt your sleep.
It is worth pointing out that hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause are very common and menopause itself is not an illness, merely a process the body must go through. The biological norm is not to suffer too much with the symptoms associated with menopause and luckily, there are a variety of options to help reduce tiresome hot flashes and night sweats and keep you in good health.
Studies have shown that a diet high in plant foods (especially phytoestrogens) have been helpful in reducing some menopause symptoms such as hot flushes. Phytoestrogens have an oestrogenic effect by binding to oestrogen receptors[iii]. Foods typically high in phytoestrogens are organic whole soy and soaked flaxseed[iv]. However, eating a variety of vegetables will provide an array of phytoestrogens too (to a lesser extent).
For extra diet tips regarding menopause please see our menopause entry here.
Stay away from these triggers, which are known in some people to elicit hot flashes and night sweats:
There are lots of menopause complexes in capsule and liquid form. They are derived from different herbs which help to reduce menopause symptoms and some include some vitamins and minerals too.
Sage: has commonly been used as an aid for hot flushes and night sweats for menopausal women. In a study in Switzerland, the level of intense hot flushes were decreased significantly over the 8 week trial with once daily doses of fresh sage leaves[v]. Try: Viridian Organic Sage supplement.
Red clover: Studies on isoflavone red clover found it reduced hot flushes in frequency and severity and relieved symptoms[vi].
Black cohosh: is a popular remedy for hot flashes, seen in studies to consistently improve menopause-related symptoms (hot flushes, joint/bone pain)[vii].
These are complexes you can take on a daily basis: Viridian Herbal Female Complex, Wild Nutrition Botanical Menopause, A Vogel Menoforce, and Pure Encapsulations MenoVive, Viridian Organic Sage, A Vogel Stinging Nettle, Bio Health Salvian (sage leaf) and Pukka Shatavari. Please also consult a practitioner for further advice regarding dosage and duration of supplementation, ensure you have your supplest intake reviewed periodically for the best results and safety.
Other endocrine disturbances will exacerbate hot flushes.
DUTCH test: this dried urine test looks at your hormone levels and their metabolites. It also includes cortisol and DHEA which helps to evaluate stress levels felt throughout the day and which may be contributing to your symptoms. This test will identify how you metabolise oestrogen and therefore can support with the decision of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) if you are considering it. For more information on the test click here.
Thyroid function: it is worth checking thyroid function, as this commonly changes around menopause. Usually testing for markers such as: TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), FT3 & FT, thyroid function tests can be sought privately or through your GP. Talk to us for further advice. Complete Thyroid Panel.
Metabolomix Plus Advance: this finger prick test provides a fully detailed analysis of individual vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and amino acids status, markers for gastrointestinal function, oxidative stress, essential fats status and the nutrient and toxic elements clearance. It helps to identify your nutritional needs, which if supported appropriately, could help with the transition into menopause by making sure your body has everything it needs for optimal health. Read here for more information.
Our Nutritional Therapy team are experts in helping guide women through this important life stage, contact us today. For more information about Nutritional Therapy for hormonal balance click here.
[i] Huang AJ, Grady D, Jacoby VL, Blackwell TL, Bauer DC, Sawaya GF. Persistent Hot Flushes in Older Postmenopausal Women. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(8):840–846.
[iii] Messina M. Soy foods, isoflavones, and the health of postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100 Suppl 1:423S-30S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.071464. Epub 2014 Jun 4. PMID: 24898224.
[iv] Cetisli NE, Saruhan A, Kivcak B. The effects of flaxseed on menopausal symptoms and quality of life. Holist Nurs Pract. 2015 May-Jun;29(3):151-7. doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000085. PMID: 25882265.
[v] Bommer S, Klein P, Suter A. First time proof of sage's tolerability and efficacy in menopausal women with hot flushes. Adv Ther. 2011 Jun;28(6):490-500. doi: 10.1007/s12325-011-0027-z. Epub 2011 May 16. PMID: 21630133.
[vi] Low Dog, T. (2005). ‘Menopause: a review of botanical dietary supplements’, Am J Med. 19 (118), pp. 12B:98-108
[vii] Geller SE, Shulman LP, van Breemen RB, Banuvar S, Zhou Y, Epstein G, Hedayat S, Nikolic D, Krause EC, Piersen CE, Bolton JL, Pauli GF, Farnsworth NR. Safety and efficacy of black cohosh and red clover for the management of vasomotor symptoms: a randomized controlled trial. Menopause. 2009 Nov-Dec;16(6)
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.