Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD
Hot flash symptoms can be truly miserable for women. Some women require immediate treatment for their hot flashes, while some are fine with a few of my simple home remedies for hot flashes.
We cannot treat hot flashes in women without first addressing diet and exercise. Let me explain the diet that will actually trigger hot flash symptoms for women today.
A little while back I was hanging out with a friend drinking coffee before we headed to our favorite Thai Food restaurant. I ordered a glass of red wine (because the polyphenols are going to prevent me from having a heart attack someday), and my favorite spicy curry (because turmeric in curry is a fabulous superfood.) Then we split a piece of chocolate cake...
I suddenly broke out in a TERRIBLE embarrassing sweaty hot flash!
I was unbearably hot!!!
I could not stop sweating. I thought "No wonder women hire me as their Naturopathic Doctor to fix hot flashes, this is truly miserable!"
Almost as hot as my friend when he accidentally mistook the entire chunk of green wasabi for a piece of sushi! Being a big fan of Chinese Medicine I immediately began to analyze the energetic properties of the foods that I had just consumed.
Everything I ate was heating. Coffee, red wine, curry, red pepper, onions, garlic, sugar.
Worse yet I realized I had just consumed everything on the “NO NO” list for the menopausal diet.
No wonder caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods are so forbidden for those with hot flashes! While I don't normally have hot flashes, I managed to give myself a hot flash from this poor choice combo!
The next day I patient was complaining her hormone cream was not strong enough for her hot flashes. Upon checking her hormone labs, her estradiol and progesterone were high enough that she should not have been having hot flashes. I gave her my typical spiel on the “Naturopathic Approach to Menopause” and “Natural Remedies for Nightsweats” along with some individualized recommendations. When I got to the spicy foods, caffeine, sugar, and alcohol part she rolled her eyes and said…
“Well that is my entire diet! How can I NOT eat those things?”
Busting out the tough love, I responded “Well maybe that is why you have been suffering from these horrible hot flashes for five-plus some odd years that appear to be refractory to most common treatments including hormone replacement therapy."
Instead of asking her to take my word on it, I simply said “Go eat all of those things in one meal and come back and tell me how you felt.”
The hot flashes that she had that night and over the next 24 hour period were some of the worst EVER. She text me about her “menopausal showcase showdown” that involved a bottle of red wine, spicy spaghetti (which she added extra red pepper flakes to), tiramisu and a double espresso for dessert. Enough to make just about anyone break into a sweat.
Five years of treating her hot flashes cured in one meal. She learned to eat more cooling foods and manage her temperature with flaxseeds in applesauce and cooling iced teas of nettles and red clover before bed.
Oftentimes whatever food we are attached to in life is EXACTLY what makes us sick.
My patient with high cholesterol says she can't live without red meat, cheese and fried foods, the high blood pressure patient shakes salt liberally on every meal, my diabetic patient reports sitting in the grocery store parking lot and frantically binge eating a box of doughnuts after a stressful day.
I could go on and on all day with these examples that I hear and see as a Naturopathic Doctor, but my point is that food should be nourishment and nothing else. Once we identify the issue we need to work to correct it. Why wouldn't we want to eat the best diet for our body?
What we should enjoy about food is how it makes us feel. Recognizing food as nourishment is the key to keeping our health in balance. If we are going to eat indulgences, we should enjoy them in moderation and not mix them all together all into one meal like I did!
The body forgives moderation better than it does an entire meal that promotes disease or uncomfortable symptoms. You should be able to cheat a little bit and still enjoy your favorite foods on the weekend as a treat. Try not to combine too many hot flash trigger foods right before bed to avoid hot flashes and night sweats.
Dr. Nicole Sundene
Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology, Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema, and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 23 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones, she presents to women the best-integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 28 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan (not Medicaid) and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones, and Naturopathy!