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9 Ways to Stop Hot Flashes Naturally

The average person going through menopause will experience seven YEARS of hot flashes. Here's how to deal drug-free.

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According to the National Institute on Aging, one of the best ways to treat hot flashes is with lifestyle changes, which is good news. While it’s true that hot flashes—and their cousin, night sweats—can interrupt your life and make you feel miserable, there are many options for natural hot flash remedies.
“Up to 85% of menopausal women report hot flashes,” says Mary Claire Haver, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN who explains the science of hormones to women in her clinic, on her TikTok and Instagram, and in her book The Galveston Diet. “These hot flashes can also occur in as many as 55% of women who are perimenopausal,” Dr. Haver says, “And their incidence and severity can increase as the woman gets closer to menopause.” Here are some of the most natural, least-invasive ways to naturally reduce hot flashes.
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Think your hot flashes away

Simply wishing your hot flashes aren’t real won’t work, but a double-blind, controlled study (the best kind), published in Menopause, found that using a mental technique called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective at diminishing both hot flashes and night sweats. CBT is a simple type of psychological therapy you can do on your own that works by challenging negative thoughts and replacing them with more positive ones.

“The relationship between our beliefs, our thoughts, our feelings, and our behaviors is a very tight one,” explains Dr. Tatiana Escandon, a counselor who specializes in women’s issues, “Bringing awareness to our thoughts can give us an indication of whether our emotions are negative, harmful, or helpful, and utilizing tools to intentionally change the way we think about things will affect not only the way we feel but also the way we act.”

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Controlled breathwork

A controlled breathwork practice might not stop your hot flashes, but it is a natural hot flash remedy that can help you manage the way you experience them. Controlled breathwork—when combined with a meditation practice—helps reduce stress and help keep your endocrine system healthy. 

“Some helpful tools that have been proven to work are: controlled breathing (where you intentionally breathe deeply and slowly, bringing more oxygen to your brain which helps regulate your nervous system), positive imagery (where you relax your mind and body by thinking of pleasant scenarios), and replacing negative thoughts (such as ‘I am getting old’) with more positive and helpful thoughts (such as ‘My body is adjusting and this won’t last forever’),” Dr. Escandon explains. 

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Set up your ideal sleep situation

Hot flashes and night sweats can wake women up as often as every hour, leaving them a sweaty, shaky, tired mess the next day, according to the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. But while you may not be able to stop your hot flashes, practicing good “sleep hygiene” numbers among natural hot flash remedies as one that may reduce them.

Changing your sheets regularly might have more of an impact than you realize because sheets that are dirty don’t breath as well. You can also try temperature-regulating bamboo sheet such as these from Cozy Earth and try Soma’s Cool Nights sleepwear, made of a fabric designed to keep you from overheating. 

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Hypnosis

The above-mentioned study from Menopause found that women who had just six session of hypnosis experienced 56 fewer hot flashes per week compared to only 12 less for a control group who was simply taught an attention technique. Even better, the women in the hypnosis group reported that the hot flashes were less severe following hypnosis.

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Weight loss

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way in reducing the discomforts of menopause, according to a study done by Baylor University. The researchers assigned women experiencing at least four hot flashes a day to two groups: One designed to help the participants lose weight and a control group. After six months, the dieting women had lost an average of 19 pounds and reported their hot flashes to be significantly less. The women who lost the most weight experienced the most relief, the researchers noted.

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Soy

Tofu contains isoflavone compounds (genistein & daidzein) that can help control hot flashes,” explains Dr. Anna Barbieri, Founding OBGYN at Elektra Health, “It works by essentially mimicking natural estrogen.” Studies show an improvement in menopause symptoms when taking isoflavone supplements, and dietary soy may also help. Soy is a great source of plant protein, so there’s no harm in trying it to see of this natural hot flash remedy works for you. “I recommend choosing organic soy whenever possible,” Dr. Barbieri says, “As conventionally produced soy often comes from large farms with high pesticide and chemical use.”

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Flaxseed

Both Dr. Barbieri and Dr. Haver recommend flaxseeds because they contains phytoestrogens and may help reduce hot flashes. That said, the research shows conflicted results, but like dietary soy, there are other health benefits. “Ground flaxseed is a great source of fiber and omega 3s and consuming it in the whole seed or oil form does not deliver the same benefits,” Dr. Barbieri says. 

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Acupuncture

Most people don’t love needles but acupuncture, a type of therapy where many small needles are inserted at certain points into the body, may be an effective treatment for hot flashes, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.  The study was done on breast cancer survivors as they often experience hormone-related hot flashes but aren’t good candidates for traditional drug therapies. After eight weeks of weekly treatments, the researchers found that women who got electro-acupuncture where a small electrical current is run through the needles) had far fewer hot flashes than people who took a prescription medication for hot flashes, or people who got a placebo version of the acupuncture. The best part? The benefit lasted even after the treatment stopped.

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Exercise

The North American Menopause Society did a meta analysis of all the research into natural hot flash remedies in an attempt to separate the old wives’ tales from cold, hard science. Surprisingly, the group says there is no scientific evidence supporting exercise or yoga as effective treatments. But don’t ditch your daily jog just yet. Exercise is one of the best “medicines” we have and has a multitude of health benefits, including ones that might reduce hot flashes like weight loss, improved sleep, and stress reduction. Regardless of the effect on your hot flashes, it’s still totally worth your time and effort to get out and get moving.

Additional writing and reporting by Jaime Stathis.

Sources
Medically reviewed by Tia Jackson-Bey, MD, on October 01, 2019
Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, MS, is an award-winning journalist, author, and ghostwriter who for nearly two decades has covered health, fitness, parenting, relationships, and other wellness and lifestyle topics for major outlets, including Reader’s Digest, O, The Oprah Magazine, Women’s Health, and many more. Charlotte has made appearances with television news outlets such as CBS, NBC, and FOX. She is a certified group fitness instructor in Denver, where she lives with her husband and their five children.