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Natural/alternative treatments & lifestyle changes

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Natural treatments

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.

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Bioidentical hormone therapy

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.

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Lifestyle changes

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.

More information on Natural/alternative treatments & lifestyle changes

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.

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Content last updated September 22, 2010.

Resources last updated September 29, 2010.

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