Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Many women have turned to alternative medicine, including mind and body techniques and dietary supplements to help curb hot flashes. There is a shortage of well-designed studies on complementary health practices for hot flashes, but research is progressing.

Mind and body approaches

A growing body of evidence suggests that certain techniques can help ease hot flashes, including:

  • Relaxation techniques. Practices such as yoga, tai chi and qi gong might help relieve hot flashes.
  • Acupuncture. Some studies indicate that acupuncture may reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
  • Hypnosis. Preliminary research shows that hypnosis successfully relieved hot flashes in women with breast cancer by reducing the number of hot flashes experienced each day. Another study shows promise for hypnosis in relieving hot flashes in postmenopausal women. More research is needed.

Dietary supplements

People often assume that "natural" products cause no harm. However, all supplements have potentially harmful side effects, and supplements can also interact with medications you're taking for other medical conditions. Always review what you're taking with your doctor.

Dietary supplements commonly used for menopause symptoms include:

  • Plant estrogens. Asian women, who consume soy regularly, are less likely to report hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms than are women in other parts of the world. One reason might be related to ingestion of estrogen-like compounds in soy, red clover and many other plants. However, studies giving soy to women with hot flashes have generally found no benefit.
  • Black cohosh. Black cohosh has been popular among many women with menopausal symptoms. Studies of black cohosh's effectiveness have had mixed results, and the supplement can be harmful to the liver.
  • Ginseng. While ginseng may help with mood symptoms and insomnia, it doesn't appear to reduce hot flashes.
  • Dong quai. Study results indicate that dong quai isn't effective for hot flashes. The supplement can increase the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications, which can cause bleeding problems.
  • Kava. Kava may ease anxiety, but not hot flashes. It can also damage the liver.
Oct. 02, 2015