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Menopause and Hot Flashes

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Are There Alternative Therapies to Relieve Hot Flashes?

Although some alternative therapies like botanical and herbal therapies have shown promise for relieving menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, more research is needed to determine the benefits and risks of these alternative remedies.

Because botanicals and herbs may have adverse side effects or exhibit harmful interactions with other medications, it is important to consult with your doctor before taking any of these products. Also, it's important to note that the manufacturing of these supplements is not regulated, leading to the possibility of taking too much or too little.

Botanicals and herbs that may help relieve hot flashes include:

  • Soy products. Plant estrogens, found in soy products, such as isoflavones, are thought to have weak estrogen-like effects that may reduce hot flashes. The research results, however, have been contradictory. Soy foods, not supplements, are recommended.
  • Black cohosh. Some studies suggest that black cohosh may be helpful in the very short term (six months or less) for treating hot flashes and night sweats. Side effects include gastrointestinal upset.
  • Evening primrose oil is another botanical that is often used to treat hot flashes, although there is no scientific evidence to support this. Side effects include nausea and diarrhea. Women taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, should not take evening primrose oil.
  • Flaxseed. Although there is no scientific evidence to support using flaxseed, it is thought to decrease the symptoms of menopause, particularly hot flashes. Also known as linseed, flaxseed is available in both whole seed and seed oil forms.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before you take any medications to relieve hot flashes. Also, keep in mind that your hot flashes may be temporary. You may be able to manage without any treatment.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Mikio A. Nihira, MD on January 08, 2012
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