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A hot flash (or hot flush in the UK) is a sudden feeling of great heat, accompanied by a very flushed and often sweating face and/or neck and/or body.
Your hot flash may be accompanied by or followed by having a rapid heart rate or chills.
Night sweats are hot flashes that cause sweating at night. They can be extremely uncomfortable and interfere with sleep.
You may wake up drenched in sweat – sometimes to the point where you will have to get up and change your nightwear and even your sheets.
Your red face is caused by blood vessels near the skin's surface dilating to let heat out in an effort to cool the body down.
The sweating is also the body’s attempt to become cooler.
The exact cause of hot flashes is not known, but it is thought that they may be related to changes in circulation.
Body temperature is regulated by the hypothalamus in your brain. As you get older and your estrogen drops, it may cause the hypothalamus to malfunction, leading to the hot flashes.
Other Possible Causes
• Eating disorders
• Trauma to the head
• Some genetic disorders
Hot flashes may be due to -
• Kidney yin deficiency
Too much stress and a hectic lifestyle can deplete your kidney yin.
• Blood deficiency
• Uprising deficiency heat – this is most often associated with the addition of night sweats.
Perimenopause is the time of transition from when you stop having regular periods until you enter menopause. During this period of time, your ovaries start to make less estrogen.
You don’t have to be at the traditional menopause age to be in perimenopause. It can start several years before actual menopause and may start in your 30s or even younger – especially if you are going through fertility treatment or taking a drug such as Tamoxifen as part of breast cancer treatment.
This means that you may experience hot flashes years before your menstrual cycle stops naturally.
The average duration of perimenopause is four years.
However, every woman is different. For some women it may only last for a few months or it may take ten years.
In the last stages of perimenopause, your estrogen drops faster until your ovaries stop producing eggs and you stop having periods altogether.
And this is the point when you may start to have symptoms and signs of menopause.
Perimenopause is recognized as having ended once you have gone a full twelve months without menstruating..
Hot flashes can be caused by hormones, even when they’re not related to perimenopause or menopause.
Oral or injected fertility drugs are still the main Western treatment for women who have issues with ovulation. These drugs work by causing hormones to be released. These hormones either trigger ovulation or regulate it.
Clomid (clomiphene citrate) has been used in the treatment for infertility for over forty years. Clomid and Serophene (the brand names for clomiphene citrate) are given to you if you are not ovulating in a normal way.
Both of these drugs fall under the category of Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERM). They block estrogen by causing the hypothalamus and pituitary glands to release
• gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH)
• follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and
• luteinizing hormone (LH)
which stimulate the ovaries into producing eggs.
Although their side effects are usually mild, one of them is hot flashes.
Hot flashes can’t be prevented altogether unless you take hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, HRT is not suitable for all women so be advised by your Doctor.
Other Prescription treatments you may be offered include:
• Low-dose depression drugs like fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), or venlafaxine (Effexor)
• Clonidine, a blood pressure medication
• Gabapentin, an antiseizure drug
• Brisdelle, a paroxetine formula specifically for hot flashes
• Duavee, a conjugated estrogens/bazedoxifene formula designed to treat hot flashes
Nonprescription treatments that may be suggested to you, include:
• Vitamin B complex
• Vitamin E
Did you know that hot flashes and night sweats are not common experiences for Chinese women?
Take a look at these figures of women who experience noticeable menopausal symptoms:
Oriental women: 10%
United States Women: 75%
That is a huge difference so let’s look at why...
Chinese women start with a major advantage. Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes that every woman is unique and so each woman is diagnosed and treated as an individual – not a statistic.
Chinese medicine has been used for thousands of years and has been continually honed over those years to make it gentle, safe and effective.
There is also a different approach with the focus on prevention and being proactive rather than reactive. If a TCM practitioner sees a young woman who is showing the first signs of Kidney Yin Deficiency, they will recognize that if the deficiency is not dealt with, she may find menopause difficult and so the issue is dealt with.
Combine that with Acupuncture and their Diet and you have a winning formula. It’s no surprise that hardly any oriental women take HRT.
Diet is a basic principle in Traditional Chinese Medicine and it is part of the culture.
In the US it is estimated that 75% of all health problems are related to dietary intake.
Two of the leading causes of death are heart attacks and stroke – both closely linked to a poor diet.
As highly qualified practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine, we understand that in order to make a full diagnosis, we need to evaluate what a person eats.
There are usually deficiencies in some areas and imbalances in others. We are able to take all of that information into account and make recommendations for the most beneficial foods to eat and what to eat less of.
It also helps us to decide which formulas will be most helpful for your situation. Our formulas are not medicine – they are food. Their high nutrition content helps to bring your body back into the balance that it has lost.
Phytoestrogens are chemicals made by particular plants.
They are like the estrogens produced by the body and they bind to estrogen receptors in the body. However, they are not as strong as human estrogen. This is a good thing because it is known that strong estrogen replacements such as HRT are not suitable for women who have had estrogen receptive breast cancer or who have a high risk of developing it.
The environment in the Western world is estimated to add 40% more (‘strong’ and potentially harmful) estrogens to the body than it produces naturally.
This could explain why developed countries have a higher incidence of breast cancer. It is also thought to be a factor in conditions related to hormones.
If you eat foods that are rich in Phytoestrogens, then the weak plant estrogen will bind to the estrogen receptors in your body. This displaces the strong estrogens which your body then expels.
This means that Phytoestrogens are one of the best natural remedies for hot flashes.
We know that many herbs traditionally given to Chinese women to help with their menopause contain some of the highest amounts of these Phytoestrogens.
• The list includes
• black cohosh
• dong quai
• red clover
• Korean ginseng
• wild American ginseng
• Kudzu root
If you are experiencing hot flashes and night sweats, our formulas can be a safe and effective menopause treatment and a way of minimizing them.
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