Three in four women report that symptoms of menopause interfere with their daily lives, and hot flashes are their number one concern, according to a recent survey. Thankfully, simple strategies can stop flashes in their tracks, so you can have fun without a sweat.
Stash mints in your purse.
University of Southern California scientists discovered that a unique protein found in peppermint called TRPM8 triggers cold-sensing nerve fibers to mimic the effect you’d feel if you applied an ice pack to your skin.
“This brain-stimulating component in menthol sends signals telling your brain that you’re colder than you are,” tamping hot flashes in a flash, says herbalist Mona Dan, LAc., MTOM, founder of Vie Healing. Simply smooth a roll-on peppermint oil on your wrists or pop a peppermint to trick your nervous system into cooling you off.
Make use of drive time.
Just take a few deep breaths. It sounds too simple to be true, but Harvard University reports that “paced respiration,” where you take slow breaths and exhale longer than you inhale, can cut hot flashes in half when done for 15 minutes twice a day.
“By slowing down your breathing, you activate the part of your brain that inhibits stressproducing hormones,” explains Maria Costantini, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist with Reproductive Medicine Associates in New Jersey. This induces a relaxation response proven to offset the heat from a flash. Even better, you can pace your breathing anytime, like when you’re driving or waiting in line at the grocery store.
Skip extra-spicy salsa.
“Spicy foods increase your core temperature, and since menopausal women have dysfunction of their body’s thermostat, this can cause hot flashes,” explains Sheri Puffer, M.D., FACOG, an ob-gyn at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. Load up instead on veggies and hummus. Cleveland Clinic experts report the dip is packed with isoflavones that help rebalance the hormonal flux that worsens flushing.