Are natural remedies safe for menopausal hot flashes?

Are any natural remedies safe for menopausal hot flashes?

Tanya Edwards, M.D.

Tanya Edwards, M.D.

A family physician, Dr. Tanya Edwards is passionate about using nutrition for the prevention and treatment of chronic illness.  She... Read more

My absolute favorite -- as in don’t pass go, do not collect $200 -- is acupuncture. Why does it work? I don’t know. In fact, when it comes to a scientific explanation, we’re not even close to understanding why acupuncture works or even why we get hot flashes in the first place. (One possible cause is increased follicle stimulating hormone [FSH] levels, which occurs as estrogen levels drop during menopause. High FSH levels may affect vascular irritability and central temperature. More FSH may result in less regulated/efficient temperature control). Eastern medicine would explain that acupuncture helps lessen the intensity and frequency of hot flashes by realigning your chi energy. I recommend weekly acupuncture treatments, for two to six weeks, and then see how your hot flashes are responding. If you’re doing really well, you can wean visits to every two weeks until you find the maintenance schedule that works for you.

Eating more soy, which is a phytoestrogen, can also help lessen hot flashes. However, I am not recommending soy supplements, or soy in any form for women with estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer.

Finally, multiple studies have shown that the herb black cohosh can also help reduce hot flashes. In some instances, black cohosh supplements have been linked to reversible liver damage, which is why I recommend liver function tests every six months for the first couple of years and then once a year after that if I have a patient using them. The brand with the most research regarding efficacy is Remifemin. The recommended dose is typically 20 mg two times per day. For more about menopause and your mind, body and food, visit