Hot Flash: What Women Should Be Aware of When It Comes to Menopause

Posted On Wednesday, 06 September 2017
Hot Flash: What Women Should Be Aware of When It Comes to Menopause

September is National Menopause Awareness Month, but many women are not aware of symptoms that could be related to menopause and what options are available to them when it comes to non-hormonal relief for hot flashes.

This month is a great month to shed some light on this important issue for women so they are aware of all their options!

Menopause is a natural process that, for some women, brings on a myriad of uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms generally come from imbalances in physiology that often stem from poor choices in diet and lifestyle.

Common perimenopausal complaints include weight gain, fatigue, hot flashes, headaches, loss of libido, dry skin, vaginal dryness, mood swings, anxiety, depression, memory problems, insomnia or sleep difficulties and joint and muscle aches and pains.

In addition, after menopause, the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease increase dramatically.

The options for relief of menopause symptoms are classified in two main categories: the Western approach and the Eastern approach.

The Western Approach

To combat perimenopausal symptoms, Western medicine developed synthetic feminine hormones. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was promoted as the fountain of youth. It was said to lower the risk of heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis.

But, several studies in the early 2000s, including the Women’s Health Initiative, found that mostly the opposite is true: women who take HRT have an increased risk of heart disease, strokes, blood clots, gall bladder disease, and invasive breast (30 to 100 percent higher) and ovarian cancers (80 percent higher).

HRT does help osteoporosis, but not any more than a little weight-bearing exercise and a diet rich with nutritious plants can.

The Eastern Approach

Traditional systems of medicine, including Ayurveda tell us that menopause should be a time of gentle and easy transition. The hormonal changes at menopause are part of the natural progression of life. Symptoms appear only if you are out of balance; usually arising from poor diet and lifestyle choices.

Therefore, the best way to improve and control menopausal symptoms is to restore balance to the physiology through healthy diet and lifestyle choices. Then, if any symptoms remain after you have made these changes, herbs and supplements may be added.

If you don't correct your habits that create the imbalances first, then herbs and supplements usually won't work well.

Herbal Help

Here are some of the top research-proven herbs that can help to balance your hormones and alleviate uncomfortable menopausal symptoms.

Black Cohosh
This root was discovered centuries ago by Native Americans to help improve menstrual cramps and menopausal symptoms. A member of the buttercup family, the German Commission E has approved it for menstrual discomfort, as well as the physical and psychological symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, vaginal dryness and sleep disturbances.

Grown in the high plateaus of the Andes, maca comes from the root of a cruciferous vegetable. For centuries it has been used by the people of Peru for hormonal imbalances, menstrual irregularities, fertility, and menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, depression and loss of energy and libido. Maca contains no plant hormones, but works by helping the endocrine system maintain hormonal balance.

Chaste Tree Berry
Also known as Vitex, the German Commission E has approved its use for irregularities of the menstrual cycle, premenstrual disturbances, and breast tenderness. Research shows it may also help with anxiety, hot flashes, and night sweats and improve sleep quality.

Dong Quai
Used in Asia for thousands of years as a tonic for the female reproductive system, modern research shows that this member of the celery family promotes uterine health and regulates the menstrual cycle. Best used in combinations with other herbs, dong quai has been shown to help with depression, hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness.

Flax Lignans
Lignans are plant compounds found abundantly in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Flax seeds contain 100 times more lignans than any other known edible plant. A subject of hundreds of studies, lignans have been found to have many health benefits including balancing feminine hormones. In a clinical trial, 100 women given flax lignans reported improvement in PMS and perimenopausal symptoms including breast tenderness, bloating, hot flashes, mood swings, and “brain fog.”

Pollen Extracts

In addition to all the herbs described above, there is also an interesting, relatively new plant-based product available in the United States made from flower pollen that appears to be beneficial for menopausal symptoms, too.

Discovered by accident, a Swedish beekeeper noticed that his bees seemed more energetic when they consumed the pollen from a particular flower. He then wondered if it would have the same effect on people. So, he gave it to men and women and although he was unimpressed by the pollen’s ability to improve energy; he was quite impressed and surprised to find it appeared to provide great relief for menopausal women.

The first pollen extract product was released in Europe in 1999. Made from the extracts of several Swedish flowers — specifically from the grass (Poacea) family including rye (Cecale cereal) — this product was recently introduced in the United States with the tradename Relizen.

To date, more than 1 million women worldwide have used this type of product with great satisfaction; and it is currently the number-one non-hormonal menopausal product used in France. In the United States, more than 2,000 gynecologists have recommended it to their patients. Just to note, the manufacturer says they use a state-of-the art manufacturing process to remove the allergenic husk, reducing the worry if you have a pollen allergy.

Numerous clinical studies have been published, some in peer-reviewed medical journals, including a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 2005 and a large controlled clinical trial in 2015 that was conducted by 90 gynecologists. These studies have found that Relizen works through non-estrogenic pathways to help alleviate menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, mood swings and fatigue.

Exactly how the pollen extract works is not fully understood, but it has been found to be high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. In addition, according to a publication in 2016, it also increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that stabilizes mood and improves depression.

Because it is non-hormonal it is considered safe for women who have had breast cancer.

No Need to Suffer

There’s no need to suffer with menopausal symptoms. This natural transition of life is meant to go smoothly. For most women, making a few healthy diet and lifestyle changes can dramatically improve or resolve symptoms. If you find that you still need some help, consider taking an effective herbal formula, or flower pollen product, such as Relizen.

Christine Horner, MD, FACS

Christine Horner, MD, FACS, is a nationally known surgeon, author and professional speaker and holds two board certifications: The National Board of Surgery and the National Board of Plastic Surgery. Horner was recognized as a leader in her field shortly after starting her plastic and reconstructive surgery practice because she successfully ran a national campaign to pass laws requiring insurance companies to pay for breast reconstruction following mastectomy.

Her five-year crusade with the Breast Reconstruction Advocacy Project (BRA Project) led to the passage of an unprecedented federal law that was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1998, requiring insurance companies to pay for this specific surgical procedure.

Horner is the award-winning author of, Waking The Warrior Goddess: Dr. Christine Horner's Program to Protect Against and Fight Breast Cancer (3rd Edition) and her new award-winning book, Radiant Health, Ageless Beauty (Elgea Publishing, 2016).


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