Hot flushes are the most common clinical picture of menopause suffered by 75% of menopausal women. A hot flush is characterised by a sudden feeling of heat or warmth in the upper part of the body and usually starts on the face, neck or chest before spreading to other part of the body Hot flushes may often accompanied by excessive sweating during the night or even in the day. Sometime hot flushes may be associated with nausea, dizziness or a general feeling of being unwell.
Although the causes of hot flushes are not known, they may be resulted from disturbance in the thermo-regulatory centre. Hot flushes are mostly attributable to decrease in hypothalamic opioid activity produced by low oestrogen concentrations.
For many years the hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been used to treat hot flushes, but little attention has been paid to the side effects of this treatment in menopause patients. Recent studies have suggested that oestrogen is the treatment of choice in hot flushes as compared to that of non-hormonal drugs such as Clonidine, sedatives, tranquillisers, beta-blockers, veralipride, vitamin E and evening primrose oil. However, on one hand, most of these medications carry with them some serious side effects. On other hand, the complementary treatments, particularly acupuncture, tend to strengthen and support the endocrine system as they work in conjunction with a healthy diet and adequate exercise. These alternative treatments are now accepted not only by public but also by medical profession simply because they think that such treatment may alleviate the severity and frequency of hot flushes
The effects of acupuncture on hot flushes may have the following objective mechanisms:
In Traditional Chinese theory acupuncture needling of specific points will try to increase water and combat fire through compensating deficiency and controlling excesses in order to restore the yin/yang balance. Therefore, acupuncture treatment nourishes the yin, clears heat and quiets the spirit by treating the kidney and heart yin depletion and strengthens liver blood with extinguishing liver wind. In certain cases when the deficient liver yin reaches a certain degree of severity, the disorders Rising Liver Fire or Hyper Liver Yang Ascending occur, including the following signs and symptoms: ill-temper, restlessness, headache, vertigo and hot flushes.
The patient with hot flushes should follow healthy Diet, healthy life style and detoxification:
Diet planning on the basis of food properties can, however, be useful to achieve its optimal therapeutic effect on hot flushes. The quality of diet, once it has improved the patient’s condition, should be maintained throughout life. Certain types of food and drinks, which might trigger hot flushes, are summarised in the table below:
Correcting dietary errors and adopting a nutritional regime, which maintain a high level of health are based on a healthy diet recommended by leading dieticians, nutritionists and other medical researchers as in the following table:
2. Detoxification Programme (fasting):
Physical activity can increase the concentration of endogenous oestrogen which contributes in the reduction of hot flushes and can decrease the quantity of circulating follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) and Luetinizing hormone (LH) with an increase in the level of endorphin during the attack of hot flush.Therefore, all forms of regular exercises, daily or at least three or four times weekly, such as a 30-45 minutes (in 3 equal phases of 10-15 minutes) of brisk walking, might help to prevent or lessen hot flushes. However, patients who are planning an exercise programme should have a thorough check with their general medical practitioners.
As emotional and mental stresses may trigger and increase the frequency of hot flushes, relaxation is a useful tool in increasing the emotional strength and in turn relieving and reducing the number of hot flush attacks. Therefore, patients have several choices of methods used in relaxation and these are: Acupressure, the Alexander technique, Body Massage, Reflexology, Shiatsue and Yoga.
4. Other preventive measures:
Other useful suggestions given to patients with hot flushes are summarised in following Table: