Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes


Expert’s Name: Susan Joyce Proctor

While each woman has her own unique experience of menopause, hot flashes are probably the most common complaints. They result from estrogen levels that start to fluctuate and drop. The body’s thermostat gets confused and thinks that the body is cold, so it turns up the thermostat to compensate and really heats up. It’s incredibly uncomfortable.

I remember my own relatively mild hot flashes. It was weird, after a lifetime of always feeling cold, to find myself suddenly feeling like I was burning up, for no reason. And then just as suddenly, having the heat leave, and feeling cold from the sweat that had poured out.

Since the 1960’s, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has addressed these symptoms with drugs that give women synthetic estrogens derived from horse urine. But synthetic hormones are dangerous and contribute to cancer risk. (I don’t think they are ever a good choice, for anybody.) While I believe that bio-identical hormone replacement is safe and helpful for many women, I also believe that nutritional approaches are always the place to start in managing our health. Supporting the body in doing a better job, by providing the right nutrients, is always safer than drugs.

Phytoestrogens: Plant-Based Estrogen in Foods

A number of foods and culinary herbs are rich in plant-based estrogen, and these are called phytoestrogens. Unlike synthetic estrogen, these forms are natural and generally safe, and can be excellent nutritional choices for women experiencing hot flashes. In general, it’s good for menopausal women to eat more phytoestrogen foods — but my Gourmet Wellness program is based on women’s individual blood types, and not all of the phyotoestrogen rich foods are good for all the blood types. As an important example, soy is one of the most estrogen-rich foods, and is widely known and recommended for menopausal women. But while Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo does recommend soy-based foods as beneficial for women with the A and AB blood types, they should be avoided by blood type B women.

Of the most estrogen-rich plant foods, below are the ones that Dr. D’Adamo ranks as most highly recommended for each blood type:

  • Blood Type O: broccoli, cherries, chickpeas, eggplant, flaxseeds, garlic, onions, plums, soy products, tomatoes, yams
  • Blood Type A: alfalfa, apples, barley, broccoli, brown rice, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cherries, flaxseeds, garlic, oats, onions, peanuts, peas, plums, rye, soy products
  • Blood Type B: alfalfa, apples, broccoli, brown rice, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, eggplant, flaxseeds, garlic, oats, onions, peas, bell peppers, plums, yams
  • Blood Type AB: alfalfa, apples, broccoli, brown rice, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cherries, eggplant, flaxseeds, garlic, oats, onions, peanuts, peas, plums, rye, soy products, tomatoes, yams

Culinary herbs are another great source of phytoestrogens. These are generally fine for all the blood types and are excellent choices for cooking, since they improve both the flavor and the healthfulness of food. The best ones are:aniseed, fennel, licorice, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme, and turmeric.

Other Good Reasons to Eat More Phytoestrogen Foods

Although hot flashes are the most dramatic and uncomfortable symptoms of low estrogen, they are far from the only ones; for example, estrogen protects our bones, so low estrogen contributes to the risk of osteoporosis. Many other disease conditions, especially those whose risks increase as we age, have low estrogen as a contributing factor.

So it’s good to know that we can improve our health by enjoying more of the phytoestrogen foods and herbs, and that our blood types can help us refine our choices even further.

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