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Natural/alternative treatments and lifestyle changes
- Natural treatments
- Bioidentical hormone therapy
- Lifestyle changes
- More information on natural/alternative treatments and lifestyle changes
Some women try herbs or other products that come from plants to help relieve hot flashes. Unfortunately, being “natural” doesn't always mean a product is safe.
Some common natural products for hot flashes are:
- Soy. Soy contains phytoestrogens (FEYE-toh-ESS-truh-juhns). These are substances from a plant that may act like the estrogen your body makes. There is no clear proof that soy or other sources of phytoestrogens really do make hot flashes better. And the risks of taking soy products like pills and powders are not known. If you are going to try soy, the best sources are foods such as tofu, tempeh, soymilk, and soy nuts.
- Other sources of phytoestrogens. These include herbs such as black cohosh, wild yam, dong quai, and valerian root. There is not enough evidence that these herbs — or pills or creams containing these herbs — help with hot flashes. Also, not enough is known about the risks of using these products.
Make sure to discuss any natural or herbal products with your doctor before taking them. It's also important to tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking. Some plant products or foods can be harmful when combined with certain medications.
Bioidentical hormone therapy (BHT) means man-made hormones that are the same as the hormones the body makes. There are several prescription BHT products that are well-tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Often, though, people use this term to mean medications that are custom-made by a pharmacist for a specific patient from a doctor's order. These custom-made products are also sometimes called bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). Despite claims, there is no proof that BHRT products are better or safer than drugs approved by the FDA. Also, many insurance and prescription programs do not pay for these drugs because they are viewed as experimental.
Making lifestyle changes may help ease the discomfort of your symptoms and keep you healthy in the long run. Try these tips.
- Eat healthy food. Eating a balanced diet can give you energy and protect your health. Limit alcohol or caffeine, which can affect sleep. Learn more about nutrition.
- If you smoke, try to quit. In addition to causing many serious health conditions, smoking may trigger hot flashes, weakens bones, and can irritate your bladder, which may become more sensitive during menopause. Get help quitting smoking.
- Get regular exercise. Regular physical activity helps keep your weight down, improves your sleep, strengthens your bones, and elevates your mood. Read about ways to get active and how much exercise you need.
- Try stress reduction techniques. If you do them regularly, stress reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga can help you cope with your symptoms more easily. Learn more about reducing stress.
- If you’re overweight, losing weight might help with hot flashes, according to one recent study. Losing the extra weight can also help with your overall health and well-being.
Read more from womenshealth.gov
Fitness and Nutrition — This section of womenshealth.gov provides information on physical activity and nutrition. It also includes information about how to reach and maintain a healthy weight, a list of healthy recipes, and advice on supplements.
Explore other publications and websites
Bio-Identicals: Sorting Myths from Facts — This brochure alerts consumers and health care professionals to false and misleading claims of bio-identical hormone replacement therapies.
Black Cohosh — This fact sheet provides an overview of the use of black cohosh for menopausal symptoms. It includes information on how effective it is, how it works, and what the possible risks are.
Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide From the National Institute on Aging — This illustrated booklet can help older adults get physically active. The booklet explains how physical activity can benefit older adults, provides sample activities to get people started, tips to stay motivated, and ways to measure progress.
Exercising After Menopause (Copyright © American Osteopathic Association) — Post-menopausal women can face a variety of health issues, and exercise is a key part of staying healthy. This fact sheet describes good exercises for post-menopausal women and some other preventative measures they can take to promote their health.
Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Across Your Lifespan: Young at Heart: Tips for Older Adults — This booklet gives tips for older adults on eating healthy, getting active, and losing weight.
Menopausal Symptoms and CAM — Many women and their health care providers have become interested in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for menopausal symptoms. This fact sheet answers some frequently asked questions about CAM and lists resources for more information.
Menopause: Staying Healthy Through Good Nutrition (Copyright © The Cleveland Clinic) — This publication gives some basic dietary guidelines for women in the years around menopause and discusses foods choices that may reduce symptoms.
My Bright Future: Physical Activity and Healthy Eating for Adult Women — This booklet will help you learn more about the importance of physical activity and healthy eating in your daily life. It will also help you talk with your doctor about these topics and set health-related goals. Included are personalized tip sheets that can help you meet your nutritional goals.
Connect with other organizations
Alliance for Aging Research
American Dietetic Association
Food and Nutrition Information Center, USDA
Hormone Foundation, The
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
National Institute on Aging, NIH, HHS
Office of Dietary Supplements
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)
Weight-Control Information Network
Content last updated September 29, 2010.
Resources last updated September 29, 2010.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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