Hot flashes have become known as the hallmark of perimenopause and menopause. I don’t know about you, but if I wasn’t in the tropics and experienced sudden, intense heat in my body, I wouldn’t be too happy. Some women report sweating so much their clothes are soaked. How annoying, and potentially debilitating and embarrassing depending on the circumstance you find yourself in.
Here is how Western Medicine explains hot flashes:
Although we think of hot flashes as heat surges, they are actually the body’s attempt to cool off. Blood vessels dilate and the heart races to pump more blood to reach the surface of the body where it is cooler; an effect that can produce a blush or flush. “ Elegant explanation, but it doesn’t really change anything about getting them, does it?
Four out of five women experience hot flashes in the years before their periods cease, leaving some with almost 12 years of unpleasant symptoms” reports webMD.com. That is 80% of American women. That’s a lot of women!
Ayurveda looks at hot flashes from a different angle. Women who are Pitta predominant by nature (i.e. have a lot of fire in their constitution) will experience the most severe and intense hot flashes. They might also experience burning and inflammation. Vata types (i.e. those with more air and ether in their constitution) will fare a bit better but are likely to experience vaginal dryness, anxiety and urinary incontinence. Kapha types (i.e. those with more earth and water in their constitution) are in luck. They will experience fewer menopausal symptoms in general and might not have to deal with hot flashes at all. This is not to say you are doomed as a Pitta or a Vata, it just means you have to adopt a few more extra measures compared to your Kapha girl friend.
“Four out of five women experience hot flashes in the years before their periods cease”
If you are amongst those who are bugged by hot flashes, I assume you want to know what you can do. Here are 3 Quick Tips to combat Hot Flashes on the spot:
Quick Fix 1:
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, spicy foods and beverages, all of which aggravate Pitta (the fire element in your body). It just drives things over the edge making you feel hotter than you need to. One of my clients freed herself from hot flashes by cutting these foods out of her diet. She noticed that any time she eats or drinks the “wrong” thing she gets a flash shortly after. If she avoids them, she is hot flash free.
Quick Fix 2:
Is a rather pragmatic tip: Dress in layers so you can take them off as you get hot and then cold again. Also, wear cotton instead of synthetic clothing. That way your body can breathe better and you won’t get nasty smelling clothes.
Quick Fix 3:
Embrace the hot flash: this is a practice of allowing and accepting. By simply acknowledging what is happening to your body you will be able to let go of embarrassment. The acknowledgment can simply be to yourself quietly and internally or out loud to another person. As a result of that acknowledgment, you will feel more confident about yourself and you will perceive the hot flash as less severe.
To kick the cause of hot flashes, read: