Q. As a woman in menopause, I’m alarmed by the recent reports on hormone replacement therapy and its potential to increase my risk of breast cancer and heart disease. I’ve been taking hormones for my hot flashes. Are there other things I can do?
A. Yes. From a naturopathic perspective, there are a number of things you can do to help you with your hot flashes — or, as some women call them, power surges.
One approach involves herbal medicine. Black cohosh is an herb with a long history of use in the treatment of menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, vaginal atrophy and depression. According to the Physicians Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines, black cohosh does not increase estrogen levels but works to ease hot flashes by blocking estrogen receptors. The recommended dose is 80 milligrams two times a day.
Another approach involves diet. In traditional Chinese medicine, a diet high in “cooling foods” and low in “warming foods” is best for reducing hot flashes.
Cooling foods include watermelon, tomato, seaweed, tofu, pear, banana, spinach and apple. Warming foods include cayenne pepper garlic, onions, coffee and chicken.
Soy is not only a cooling food but is also high in phytoestrogens, or plant hormones, and has weak hormone-like effects. Numerous studies have found that women who eat a lot of soy products report milder menopausal symptoms.
Finally, studies have indicated that 400 to 800 units of vitamin E can reduce hot flashes. (Caution is advised for those on blood thinners as vitamin E can thin your blood.)
Article was originally printed in the Honolulu Advertiser, honoluluadvertiser.com