“Wait… you can treat that too?” Add that question to the very top of the list of things that an acupuncturist hears every single day. That’s the reaction I get every time I talk about all of the women’s health conditions that I love to treat, and hot flashes seem to be one of the most surprising ones! However, menopause isn’t the only thing that causes hot flashes. Men and women of all ages experience them. They can fire up as a result of many different things, including hormone fluctuations, emotions, drug side effects, immune response, adrenal response, even just from eating hot or spicy foods!
Yes, Traditional Chinese Medicine can help with hot flashes! Acupuncture and herbal therapies can be extremely effective at reducing the frequency and severity of the hot flashes, and can also address other concerns relating to menopausal symptoms, hormonal imbalances, emotional regulation, stress relief, etc. There are also a few things you can do at home to help reduce them, including food therapy and acupressure points. Before we dive into those details, let’s look a bit closer at the TCM perspective on hot flashes. To put it simply, hot flashes are due to a yin-yang imbalance. Yin is the “cooling, nourishing” function of the body, and yang is the “warming, activating” function of the body. Yin and yang are supposed to be in balance, but when one of them is weakened, the other can take over and cause symptoms like hot flashes.
Hot flashes can also be the result of a temporary fluctuation in hormones such as during the menstrual cycle or as an adrenal response to physical or emotional stress. Some of the hormones involved in the menstrual cycle and adrenal response stimulate thermogenesis, which means they raise your body temperature. Certain foods and medications can also spike your body temperature, resulting in a hot flash. These types of hormones, foods and medications are considered to have a “yang” nature in TCM. A sudden increase in yang can also offset the yin-yang balance.
Luckily there are a few things you can do at home to help! Watching which kinds of foods you eat is a great place to start. If you get hot flashes or night sweats frequently, it would be a good idea to start by reducing your caffeine intake and avoiding spicy and greasy foods! Basically, if it makes you sweat while you eat it or if it gives you that uncomfortable, heavy, full feeling… avoid it! This also applies for the physical temperature of foods. Eating very hot foods can sometimes trigger a hot flash, so maybe try letting the food or drink cool to room temperature. Switching from coffee to green tea can also help, as well as drinking peppermint tea throughout the day. The cooling sensation of the peppermint can be very comforting at the onset of the hot flash. Other foods that are cooling and can help balance your yin and yang are apples, spinach, broccoli, salmon, cucumbers, and mint. Even a quick google search for “Chinese medicine hot flashes” can turn up some great links to foods and recipes that can help. One thing to be cautious of, however, is your digestion. If you notice that cold, raw vegetables tend to make you feel bloated or result in abdominal pain or loose stools, then steaming them can help to make them easier to digest.
There are also a few different acupuncture points that can be very helpful for hot flashes! Check out the pictures below that show their location. They typically feel a little tender when you press on them when you’re at the right spot, so maybe try feeling around in the general area shown in the photo for the most tender location. Then, once you locate it, press firmly and massage it for a few minutes. You don’t want to leave a bruise, but it should feel a little tender.
Give us a call at EastWest Acupuncture to meet with one of our practitioners and see what other tips and tricks we have up our sleeves for your health concerns! At EastWest Acupuncture, we got you!