Hot flushes are a common perimenopause experience. Luckily Ayurveda can help to alleviate this unpleasant sign of hormone imbalance.
Over 70% of women will experience hot flushes during perimenopause. And even more, up to 80%, will experience them for many years after their cycles have stopped.
I had hot flushes. They were one of the clues that I was going through perimenopause, at the age of 41!
Like a flame rising internally from my middle to my face and limbs, they disturbed my sleep and made me irritable and exhausted.
Thankfully, my hot flushes only lasted for several months. Once I realised what was going on I knew how to bring myself back into balance. But, I have met women who still have hot flushes even 10 years after their last cycle!
Why do hot flushes happen?
During perimenopause the changing levels of estrogen tricks the temperature control centre in your brain, your hypothalamus, into thinking that you are hot.
Your hypothalamus reacts by kicking your body into ‘cool down mode!’
It signals your body to increase your heart rate and dilate your blood vessels, making you feel hot, flushed, red in the face, and start sweating, all in the hope of cooling you down when you weren’t really hot to begin with!
Hot flushes can happen multiple times in a day and, or night, and can last from 15 seconds to a minute or so.
Interestingly, it’s not just women with low estrogen who experience hot flushes. Women with high estorgen can also experience them. Often along with the other high estrogen signs like heavy bleeding, water retention, brain fog and fibroids, cysts, or endometriosis.
In these cases the high estrogen levels are often in relation to low progesterone, caused by long term high stress and cortisol, which depletes progesterone. Genetic patterns are often also at play, but can be managed with lifestyle and diet choices.
From the Ayurvedic perspective, I’ve noticed that hot flushes occur more for women with Vata and Pitta constitutions or those with a combnation of both. They definitely happen more for women who are depleted with their nervous system running high.
This can be called a high Vata and high cortisol situation, or simply put, running on adrenalin.
What contributes to creating Hot Flushes?
There are certain habits and substances that contribute to causing hot flushes.
Ayurveda reminds us that like increases like. Hot flushes are, well, hot! Thus hot things will exacerbate them such as:
🔥 Hot, in temperature, food and drinks. Even a herbal tea can trigger a hot flush.
🔥 Or food and drinks that have fiery energetics like coffee and alcohol, chilli and cayenne.
🔥 Excessive exercise which heats the body can also be a cause.
Coffee is like a triple whammy if you are experiencing hot flushes. Coffee is:
Aggravating to your liver which heats it up and can interfere with its ability to break down excess estrogen and toxins in your body,
Overly stimulating for your adrenals which increases Vata and depletion, and,
Is generally taken hot which increases your body’s instant heat response.
Clearly Pitta increasing aka fiery substances will exacerbate hot flushes.
We can also think of how Vata, the wind energy, can, when in excess, fan the fire element and contribute to having hot flushes.
To prevent the Vata fanning your fire it is important to take care of your nervous system and implement self-care and stress management techniques, as well as avoiding the spicy food that can provoke both vata through dryness and pitta though the heat it creates in your body.
Ayurvedic Tips for Alleviating Hot Flushes
Here are some Ayurvedic tips that will help reduce and alleviate your hot flushes.
✨ Reduce your coffee and alcohol intake.
This doesn’t have to be FOREVER! But, cutting back during perimenopause will make a huge difference to your wellbeing at this time. Less coffee will help your digestion and your sleep and make perimenopause a much easier, and more enjoyable transition. Try reducing consumption to the weekends and notice the difference.
✨ Reduce eating spicy food. For example, warm is good for your digestion but not too spicy! Favour ginger over chilli and add fennel and coriander and cumin to support your digestion too.
✨ Take care of your nervous system. Having hot flushes is a sure sign that you’ve been doing more than your body wants to be doing, and probably for some time too! Perimenopause is a beautiful time to reconnect with yourself, re-assess your boundaries, speak your needs to your loved ones and start to share the load.
Be compassionate with yourself during this time of great change and transition.
✨ Self-massage is a beautiful technique for reducing stress and Vata, and giving love and attention to yourself.
✨ Breathe. Tight and shallow breathing, or chest breathing is very common and impacts our stress level, our digestion and more.
Breathing easily, not deeply but easily, into your belly, will activate your Vagus nerve and help your nervous system to regulate. See this short video here for tips on how to breathe well.
Hot flushes do not have to take over your life, ruin your sleep and make you tired and irritated. They do not have to be a part of your perimenopause journey. This natural time of transition can be the most enjoyable and empowering time of your life!
If you would like support, I invite you to reach out for a consultation or free clarity call.
Or share these tips with your dear friends who are struggling with hot flushes.