So your ovaries have finally decided to look at retirement over the next few years and to celebrate, they’ve let you know with a never-ending sweat-party of hot flashes.
Hot flashes are one of the first markers of the period of peri … that time in-between regularly functioning hormone production and your ovaries putting their feet up for good.
Unsure if this is you? Take a look at Perimenopause Mayhem to find out!
And this should be a good time! A great time!! Because it is the time of the wise woman. A time when we generally become more of who we are.
I think of our cycling years as mini-growth spurts each month. Whether that growth spurt sprouts into a baby or not, it is the surge of egg from follicle; of oestrogen and LH in the follicular cycle; of progesterone in the luteal. It is the proliferation of endometrial cells and the release of endometrial lining that serves as a constant reminder of our years of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual “argy bargy”; a phase of forging through education and building a career and/or family and/or relationships and/or heartbreak and/or exploring and/or navigating loss and grief to making sense of our existence.
But transitioning from this expansive, cycling phase to a more settled, centred, self-assured woman, one who radiates her energy from within and needs less externalised energy can bring with it an initiation phase of a hot flashes sweat lodge called perimenopause. And I think of it less as a slowing down or a loss of youth, and more of a shifting spiritual gears into a calmer, cooler, wiser woman. And as we transition from a more externalised physical exuberance into a more grounded, no-BS wise woman, the initiation can be rocky for our adrenal and nervous system.
Watch the Video: All About Peri (menopause)
But with wise Mother Nature, it doesn’t have to be. And below are some of my favourite herbs to counter hormonal hot flashes:
Salvia officinalis | Sage: Sage is a great all round “tightener”. Its tannins reduce swelling of mucous membrane tissues which, along with its antimicrobial properties greatly reduces infections, sore throats and gum disease but on a larger scale, also reduces excess sweating and perspiration. Source fresh sage leaves and simply bruise and brew for a hot flashes tea tonic.
Cimicifuga racemosa | Black Cohosh: This is one of our archetypal “menopausal” herbs. It’s known as an HPO (hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian) regulator meaning it works at getting the brain and ovaries talking in a flowing and balanced way for a smoother pulsing and cycling of hormones. This of course means fewer symptoms from swinging oestrogen and progesterone levels as the ovaries start to wind down. It’s also anti-inflammatory, modulates and balances-out oestrogen surges, regulates hot flashes and profuse sweating, improves sleep and mood 1. improves bone metabolism 2. and calms the nervous system from anxiety and irritability.
Hypericum perforatum | St. John’s Wort: Yes! St John’s Wort, our trusty anti-depressant-in-a-herb also comes up trumps in the hot flashes stakes. In a 2010 8-week trial with 100 women, hot flashes frequency decreased by 54% (placebo 32%); severity decreased by 60% (placebo 26%); and duration decreased by 51% (placebo 23%) 3.
Zizyphus spinosa | Zizyphus: This is one of the first herbs I think of for the double whammy of hot flashes and insomnia. Zizyphus is a cooling yin tonic. It reduces night sweats and excessive sweating in general because seriously, this “night sweat” thing does not just happen at night! It helps with sleep maintenance, reduces blood pressure, acts as a heart tonic and reduces overall anxiety and nervous tension.
Rehmannia glutinosa | Rehmannia: Rehmannia is an adrenal restorative and is used in perimenopause as a cooling, yin adrenal tonic to reduce fever and heat in the body. It can also combat menstrual irregularities, from an increase in flow or period length, to a shortened overall cycle which is common in perimenopause.
Asparagus racemosus | Shatavari: Shatavari is a bitter, sweet, cooling, pitta-balancing herb. In Ayurvedic medicine, excess pitta is correlated to increased flushing and irritability. It is said to modulate oestrogen and can be used as a female sexual tonic to increase libido.
From a nutritional and lifestyle point of view, alcohol, unrefined sugars and high carbohydrate intake can all stimulate cortisol and increase hot flashes.
Alcohol is also high in histamine and histamine can mimic hot flashes of peri so even more reason to cut back on the evening wine through hot flashes fever.
And finally, hot flashes can be exacerbated by stress and anxiety (check out Perimenopause Mayhem) so keep your cool wise woman. Look to yoga nidra, meditation, saying no occasionally, daily movement, earthing and grounding in nature and nurture your adrenal glands through this beautiful phase.
1. Rostock M et al. Gynecol Endocrinol 2011; 27(10): 844-848
2. Wuttke W et al. Maturitas 2003; 44 Suppl 1: 567-77)
3. Abdali K et al. Menopause 2010; 17(2): 326-331
Need help managing your perimenopause transition? Kate is a qualified naturopath who is passionate about helping women heal from hormonal havoc and inspiring women to know their own power, worth and wisdom.
Kate offers one-on-one Skype consults for irregular cycles, PMS and period pain, endometriosis, PCOS, peri-menopause, mood swings, fatigue and mental and emotional stress.
Simply drop me an email to see how I can help you!