3 min read

Essential Oils for Hot Flashes? The Experts Say Probably Not.

A hot flash is an abrupt sensation of extreme heat.  It starts when blood vessels located near the surface of the skin widen in an attempt to cool themselves.  At that point a woman will frequently start to sweat and her face will turn read.  It can also be accompanied by an increase in the heart rate and even chills.  Essential Oils for Hot Flashes have not been shown to be effective, though they may smell nice and be a good distraction from the discomfort.

 

We don’t know exactly what causes the hot flash to start but it is thought to be related to circulation.  It appears that the hypothalamus section of the brain that involves thermal control sends out a signal for the blood vessels to expand.  The body reacts to the rise in skin temperature by producing sweat to cool down.

 

We do know they occur in women as a symptom of menopause, when estrogen levels drop, or medical procedures that cause decreases in those hormones like ovary removals.  For men who receive androgen deprivation as a treatment for prostate cancer, they can also experience hot flashes.

 

More than two-thirds of women experiencing menopause and perimenopause report hot flashes and 70% to 80% of males on androgen deprivation report them.

 

Some women don’t experience hot flashes at all but for those who do, they can span a few months or up to 11 years.  The average is 7 years.  For men, since it is medication induced, they subside when the treatment is over.

 

If you are going to have a hot flash, there is little to stop it, but there are certain triggers to avoid.  These include stress, caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, tight clothing, and tobacco smoke.  There are also some actions you can take to help with the problem. 

 

  • Deep breathing – Taking deep, slow breaths.  Develop a routine of 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night.  About 6 or 8 breaths per minute should do it.  You can also do this deep breathing as the hot flash begins.
  • Exercise – Daily walking, swimming, and even dancing.
  • Soy – Soy is found to have small elements similar to estrogen.  If you add this to your diet in foods like tofu and edamame, you may find some relief.  There are also herbal supplements.
  • Sleep – Wearing a sleep shirt that wicks away moisture helps as well as a “chill pillow”. 
  • Daytime – Loose fitting clothing made from natural products like cotton helps.

Your gynecologist may also consider some prescription medications like fluoxetine, clonidine, or hormone therapy.

 

Before you add any supplements or over the counter products, consult with your primary care physician and gynecologist.  Used in combination with other medications or treatments they can cause side effects that are far worse than hot flashes.

 

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