Sweat No More: Ayurveda’s Holistic Approach to Hot Flashes

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Hot flashes are an incredibly common symptom of menopause. They’re experienced by approximately 80% of the 20 million women who are of menopausal age in the United States. If someone has had their ovaries surgically removed – for any reason – this number increases to 95% experiencing hot flashes. 

Hot flashes are actually the most common reason why women seek medical care during perimenopause. They can disrupt daily life and impact work responsibilities, social activities, and even sleep quality.

Thankfully, there are numerous Ayurvedic interventions that can help us navigate these challenging symptoms.

Symptoms of Hot Flashes

A hot flash is a type of temperature dysfunction. It’s believed to be caused by changes in ovarian hormones, but the exact cause is actually unknown. 

This menopausal symptom is very sudden and comes on spontaneously, so there’s no way to anticipate it. For most people, it starts as a warmth in their chest, neck, or face, and is immediately followed by an outbreak of sweating. For some, it may also cause perspiration, heart palpitations, headaches, weakness, fatigue, and anxiety. 

An average hot flash lasts less than five minutes but can happen as often as ten times every single day. These can begin when menstrual irregularity begins, a sign that someone has started perimenopause.

Symptoms can intensify throughout menopause, and then will slowly decline in severity. All in all, this means that women can experience hot flashes for any length of time between six months and multiple years.

Causes of Hot Flashes

Some studies show that warm environments, hot drinks, and emotional stress can trigger hot flashes. These have also been linked to mood changes, eating spicy foods, or drinking caffeinated – or alcoholic – beverages. 

So while menopause is described in Ayurveda as a phase of natural transition, it is not considered natural to have such intense hot flashes for such a long period of time. Ayurveda teaches us that aging progressively leads to an increase of Vata dosha. Simultaneously, Pitta dosha is gradually decreasing due to aging. 

This alteration in energy dynamics doesn’t cause menopausal symptoms on its own, but if the dosha changes result in imbalances, then symptoms may manifest. This makes hot flashes particularly common for women who have an imbalanced aggravation of Vata and Pitta at the same time. The three most common symptoms of a Vata and Pitta imbalance are excessive sweating, sleep disturbances, and multiple hot flashes per day.

Addressing Menopausal Symptoms

Ayurvedic wisdom is more health-oriented which means it focuses on the prevention of menopausal symptoms rather than the treatment of these symptoms. Keep in mind that menopause itself is a natural process; but menopausal symptoms do not have to derail your daily life. 

These Ayurvedic midlife interventions are varied, but they all aim to help you live a balanced life:

Lifestyle – 

Build daily routines that emphasize physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Integrating more relaxation techniques, including meditation, can reduce the occurrence of hot flashes. Additionally, a regular bedtime routine, morning shower, light breakfast, and consistent yoga practice can all contribute to fewer menopausal symptoms. The intensity of hot flashes can also be reduced by cutting out alcoholic drinks, caffeinated drinks, hot baths, and excessive physical activity. 

Diet – 

Focus on whole foods that have been through minimal processing. If you want to reduce hot flashes, focus on eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, ghee, turmeric, and green mung beans. Wherever possible, avoid foods that are sour, salty, bitter, fermented, spicy, or stale. Research shows that maintaining a vegetarian diet through menopause can significantly reduce both the frequency and severity of symptoms, including hot flashes. 

Herbs – 

Depending on your specific menopausal symptoms, there are numerous herbs that can help address them. For digestive aid, integrate more cumin, coriander, fennel, ginger, and cardamom into your diet. If you’re looking for more vitality or strength, integrate more aswagandha, bala, or mansaparni. And if you’re looking to boost your cognitive abilities, aim to consume more brahmi, guduchi, yashtimadhu, and kushmanda. 

Navigating Menopause

While menopause is a natural phenomenon, it does not have to disrupt your entire life. 

So whether you’re struggling with hot flashes daily, or are still years away from perimenopause, these Ayurvedic practices can help you enter this stage of life with a stronger body, mind, and spirit.