Hot flashes occur when estrogen is lowered. It is a sign of peri-menopause. Many people do not realize that hot flashes can occur even when perimenopause is not taking place. I recently had a patient who was suffering from hot flashes at 35 years old. She also was having delayed menstruation. Her hormone panel showed the she had high FSH and told her she was going through early stages of peri-menopause. He prescribed her Hormone Replacement Therapy in order for her to menstruate and reduce the hot flashes she was experiencing. He wanted to keep up her estrogen levels so that she would not suffer from bone loss which can lower when estrogen lowers. She reluctantly went on HRT therapy but was concerned about her overall health. When Louisa (name changed due to patient anonymity) came to see me, she was on HRT therapy for two years. She expressed her concerns of being on it for the rest of her life and wanted a more natural way to deal with her hot flashes.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, hot flashes normally occur because of an insufficiency of fluids called “yin”. Yin fluids cool our body. When our body is balanced and homeostasis is at an equilibrium, we should not feel hot nor cold. When yin fluids are insufficient or depleted, the cooling unit is lowered; therefore, heat rises and hot flashes can occur. This can be very extreme and cause a lot of discomfort in women. Hormone replacement therapy is the main way to reduce hot flashes. Louisa and I discussed going off HRT and beginning Chinese herbal medicine. I explained to her that it would take some time to restore her hormones in order for menstruation to take place. Louisa went off HRT and began a blend of Chinese herbal medicine that was tailored specifically to her body. As she went off HRT and began herbs, she only experience slight heat but no hot flashes. Her menstruation came back in three months and she no longer experienced being warm nor had any signs of hot flashes. I gave her a list of dietary recommendations as well as recommended a reduction of stress and increased sleep which are critical to restoring fluids. She now menstruates on her own and does not experience hot flashes. I felt this was an important step in her overall health and reproductive health in a natural way.