Hot flashes and night sweats are common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. Some home and natural remedies may help manage them.

Hot flashes are the most common symptom of menopause. They are also known as vasomotor symptoms, as they involve the part of the nervous system that affects blood pressure. Trans women who are undergoing estrogen therapy can also have hot flashes due to fluctuating hormones.

Hot flashes cause a person to flush and feel hot. They can interfere with sleep and cause sweating. Some people also have chills.

Experts believe they happen when a lack of estrogen interferes with the body’s ability to control temperature.

Hot flashes are most likely to occur in the year before menopause. They usually become less frequent after menopause but can continue for another 14 years. Menopause marks the time when a person has not had any periods for 12 months.

Hormone replacement medications and other prescription drugs, such as antidepressants, can help treat severe or persistent hot flashes. Natural remedies may also reduce their intensity and frequency.

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A range of strategies can help get relief from hot flashes, including some lifestyle tips, such as the following:

Identifying triggers and avoiding them

Factors that affect the occurrence of hot flashes vary between individuals. Avoiding triggers may help reduce their severity and frequency.

Common triggers include:

It may not be possible to avoid these triggers entirely, but knowing which factors worsen hot flashes can enable a person to prepare for and manage them when they occur.

Carrying cool water

Drinking cold water or splashing it over the face and wrists can help cool the body during hot flashes. Having a cold shower or running the face and wrists under cold water can also help lower body temperature.

Staying hydrated may also help steady body temperatures.

Dressing in layers

Wearing layered clothing gives a person the option to cool down by removing, say, a sweater or scarf. This can help when working in a warm office, for instance.

Using a fan

Handheld fans can provide instant cooling, while standing fans can generate a cooling breeze in a bedroom or office.

Diet, exercise, and other lifestyle measures that boost overall well-being and reduce the risk of other diseases can help manage hot flashes.

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet

Some research from 2021 suggests that dietary choices can reduce the risk of menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, during menopause.

Symptoms may be less severe for people who follow a diet that focuses on:

In contrast, the following foods may worsen symptoms:

Limited research suggests omega-3 fatty acids may help improve night sweats, but more studies are needed.

More research is required to confirm these findings, but a varied and nutritious diet can help a person feel better overall, making symptoms easier to manage.

Can a keto diet help manage menopause symptoms?

Stopping smoking

Some research has linked smoking with a higher risk of hot flashes around menopause.

A 2015 study found that people who quit smoking were less likely to have hot flashes over 7 years. If hot flashes occurred, they were less severe and less frequent compared with those who continued to smoke. This was especially true for those who had quit smoking at least 5 years before.

Get some tips for quitting smoking.

Managing weight

People with obesity can be more prone to severe hot flashes, and some research suggests that losing weight may help improve symptoms.

What are 10 ways to lose weight during menopause?

Measures for managing stress can help during a hot flash and may help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.

Breathing exercises

Hot flashes can cause anxiety, leading to a release of a hormone called epinephrine. Epinephrine can further increase body temperature and sweating.

Deep, slow breaths may help a person stay calm during a hot flash.

Here are some breathing exercises that might help:

Here are 8 breathing techniques to try.

Keeping calm

The intensity of hot flashes can cause a sense of panic, intensifying symptoms. Relaxing activities may help reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes.

The following types of exercises may help reduce overall stress:

Anyone experiencing persistent anxiety and stress should speak with a doctor who can recommend treatment.

What is the link between anxiety and hot flashes?

Acupuncture

A 2017 review concluded that people who had either acupuncture or simulated acupuncture experienced relief from hot flashes compared with those who received no acupuncture.

This suggests that acupuncture may help but for psychological rather than physical reasons.

Traditionally, people have used a variety of plant products, such as herbal supplements, to treat hot flashes. Many people use them, and some say they are helpful.

However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) notes there is no evidence that phytoestrogens, herbs, or other dietary supplements can reduce the symptoms of menopause.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the quality, strength, or composition of herbal and plant products. As a result, dosing, purity, and safety recommendations depend on the particular supplement, brand, and product.

Supplements and herbs can also interact with some medications and affect individuals differently. People should always check with a doctor before using a supplement or herbal remedy.

How safe and effective are menopause supplements?

Phytoestrogens

Many plants contain compounds called phytoestrogens or “dietary estrogens,” such as isoflavones, present in soy. Phytoestrogens can bind to human estrogen receptors. Plant-based estrogens may help increase the effect of estrogen in the body.

Some older research suggests foods containing phytoestrogens might reduce the frequency of hot flashes.

Different types of phytoestrogens are present in:

More research is needed to confirm these findings and identify who might benefit.

Licorice root

Licorice root contains phytoestrogens.

A 2012 study suggested that taking 330 milligrams (mg) of licorice extract 3 times daily for 8 weeks during menopause might reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes. Benefits typically lasted for 2 weeks after stopping the supplement.

A later study from 2016 did not find that preparations of licorice root help manage hot flashes. However, there was evidence that products containing licorice extract might have estrogen-like benefits for the cardiovascular system.

More studies are needed.

Valerian root

Some research has supported the use of valerian root for managing menopause symptoms.

In a 2018 study, 60 females aged 45–55 years who had passed menopause took either a 530 mg valerian capsule or a placebo twice per day for 2 months. After 1 month and 2 months, those taking valerian reported fewer hot flashes than those using the placebo.

What is valerian tea, and who can benefit from it?

Evening primrose oil

Evening primrose oil is an extract from the evening primrose, a plant phytoestrogen. It is a popular remedy for hot flashes and night sweats.

In 2021, researchers published findings supporting its use in managing night sweats but not hot flashes. In the study, females from eight clinics in Iran took either one 1,000-mg capsule of evening primrose or a placebo twice daily.

The frequency and severity of hot flashes did not improve with either the placebo or evening primrose oil, but night flashes were less frequent and less severe after using evening primrose oil.

A similar study from 2013 had previously found that evening primrose oil may reduce the intensity of hot flashes but not the frequency or duration, compared with a placebo.

Black cohosh

Many people use black cohosh supplements to treat hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

In 2018, a group of scientists compared the effects of black cohosh and evening primrose oil on hot flashes, both of which contain phytoestrogens. Eighty females took either one supplement or the other for 8 weeks.

At the end of 8 weeks, the hot flashes in the black cohosh group were significantly lower than in week 1. Both options improved hot flashes and quality of life, but black cohosh was more effective than evening primrose oil in reducing hot flashes.

As with other herbal remedies, people should speak first with a doctor to ensure there will be no adverse effects.

How can black cohosh help during menopause?

Other possible herbal remedies for hot flashes have less evidence to support their use.

They include:

People should use all plant-based or herbal products with caution because the FDA does not regulate them. Some herbs and supplements can also interfere with blood pressure and blood clotting. They can also interact with other drugs.

Anyone interested in using herbal remedies, acupuncture, or other remedies should speak with a licensed healthcare professional who specialises in the specific field.

Traditional hormone replacement therapies use synthetically produced versions of human hormones.

While not identical, bioidentical hormone medications use plant hormones that mimic human hormones, such as estrogen, estriol, estradiol, and progesterone.

Many FDA-approved bioidentical hormone therapy options exist, and doctors can help people decide if this is an option for them.

However, the FDA does not regulate custom-prepared mixtures of different bioidentical hormones, and they may not be safe.

The NCCIH notes there is no evidence that custom-made bioidentical hormones are safer than conventional hormone therapy. The content may also vary between batches.

What are some natural hormone replacements?

Here are some answers to questions people often ask about hot flashes.

How do you stop hot flashes naturally?

There is no sure way to stop hot flashes entirely but regular exercise, dietary measures, and quitting smoking can help prevent them. Tips for managing hot flashes include avoiding triggers, such as spicy food, and taking precautions that make it easy to cool off when you feel hot. Examples include carrying a fan and a bottle of cool water and dressing in layers.

Which natural vitamins or supplements help with hot flashes?

People use a range of products, including valerian root, licorice root, and black cohosh, but there is not enough evidence to prove they work. People should always check first with a doctor to ensure they are safe for use — some supplements can interact with other medications and are not safe for people with certain health conditions.

Which natural herb is good for hot flashes?

Many herbs may help, such as red clover, alfalfa, sage, dandelion, kava, and evening primrose oil. Some people find they help, but research has not confirmed that they are safe and effective for treating hot flashes.

Hot flashes are common around menopause, and they can last several years. They can affect a person’s sleep, overall well-being, and quality of life. Hormonal treatments from a doctor can help manage them, but many people prefer natural remedies.

Some research supports the use of supplements such as valerian or licorice root and black cohosh, but more studies are needed to prove they are beneficial. Popular herbal remedies include red clover and evening primrose oil, but there is not enough research to show they work.

Other tips for managing hot flashes include exercising, following a nutritious and varied diet, and avoiding or quitting smoking. Other tips can help manage discomfort when hot flashes occur, such as using a fan, dressing in layers, and carrying a bottle of cool water.