Menopause is a normal biological process in a woman’s life, marking the natural transition between fertility and age-related non-fertility. Menopausal symptoms, in particular hot flushes and night sweats, can vary in their duration and severity and typically begin for women in their late 40’s to early 50’s, often leaving them hot and flustered.
Menopause, hot flushes and night sweats
Hot flushes and night sweats are caused by changing levels of hormones in the body, particularly declining oestrogen levels during the peri-menopause, menopause and the post-menopausal phases.
Peri-menopause is the period of time, usually 4-10 years, before the onset of menopause that tends to affect women in their early 40’s.
Menopause is defined as the cessation of menstruation for at least one year and usually occurs anywhere from around 45-55 years of age.
Post-menopause follows the menopausal phase where the ovaries stop producing oestrogen and while the adrenal glands and the conversion of androgens within fat cells produce small amounts of oestrogen.
As a woman approaches peri-menopause, declining oestrogen levels have a direct effect on the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that’s responsible for temperature control. Low levels of oestrogen trick the hypothalamus into believing the body is overheating. This triggers a cascade of biochemical processes to try and cool the body down by dilating blood vessels, resulting in hot flushes and night sweats.
Hot flushes and night sweats are the number one complaint for women experiencing menopause and are characterised by sudden, intense feelings of heat in the face, neck and arms.
The frequency, duration and severity of hot flushes and night sweats varies greatly between women. Some women experience mild hot flushes and night sweats every now and then, while other women experience severe hot flushes and nights sweats all day and all night. Avoiding well-known triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, stress and excessive heat, can help to prevent hot flushes.
Top 5 herbs for hot flushes and night sweats
1. Sage has been used for thousands of years and is traditionally used to relieve excessive sweating, night sweats and hot flushes associated with menopause.
2. Pueraria (Kudzu), provides isoflavones (phytoestrogens), helpful in managingheat and dryness, improve libido throughout menopause and may help preserve bone health in postmenopausal women
4. Chaste tree, also known as Vitex, helps support normal healthy hormone balance, helps relieve hot flushes and maintains healthy moods.
5. Dong Quai may help relieve hot flushes and sleep disturbance in pre- and post-menopausal women.
These herbs have traditionally been used to help relieve a wide variety of menopausal symptoms, especially hot flushes, excessive perspiration, night sweats, sleeplessness, dryness, nervous tension, headaches, and joint and muscle pain.