By Dave Armstrong (4-17-07)
For the millions of women who endure the ordeal of the "hot flash" during their pre-menopausal years, no further description is necessary. As for those men (many millions also, I fear) who are married to these women and who make fun of this symptom or show little compassion for the discomfort, irritation, and sometimes embarrassment involved: it's no fun at all, guys. Please get with it and show some more understanding. It can only make life better for you as well as your wife. No one (much less, a wife) likes to have their difficulties minimized or misunderstood.
Presently, I hope to bring some aid to whatever women are willing to try something different to deal with hot flashes, by reporting the wonderful success story of my lovely wife, Judy (48).
This came about by entirely natural, drug-free means. Any woman can try the same thing. You may save a lot of money as well as a lot of agony and discomfort. What do you have to lose?
As some of my readers may know, I (along with my wife Judy) am an enthusiastic advocate of holistic health: natural, whole foods, supplements, herbalist remedies, chiropractic, and avoidance of unhealthy foods (white sugar, white flour, saturated fat, high cholesterol, semi-vegetarian diet, etc.). Previously I have written about natural remedies for depression, and about the relationship of homeopathy (and the rational use of same) and science, as well as the multiple benefits of hydrotherapeutic spa.
Judy had been suffering through hot flashes "for years at night; probably three years at least"; two times a night, waking up soaked with sweat. Each attack would last for about 15 minutes. In the last six months, things got even more intense: the night episodes increased to three or four, and with more intensity. Also, daytime attacks started: an average of about six a day, "real intense" for about 10-15 minutes. So we're talking up to ten attacks of hot flashes in a single day. Needless to say, this was most unpleasant and irritating for her. Also it's thought that thinner women (Judy is a very petite 5'2") have relatively more hot flashes and a more difficult menopause.
Like many people, we tend to go along with certain things, thinking that not much could be done (like noisy kids, death and taxes, unprincipled politicians, and dumb drivers on the road). And that was true in our case even though we should have known better, with our longtime successful experience with a natural and health food philosophy. I guess it just got bad enough that we determined to try anything we could to make it better. It's a shame we didn't do this earlier, but oh well: "better late than never," and "all's well that ends well." We can't look back and dwell upon what we didn't do; we have to look forward and see what we can do now. Life's too short to be filled with regrets and "what if's?".
So on 10 April 2007 (just a week ago, today), I set out to our local Vitamin Shoppe, determined to find some supplements to help Judy (after several hours of Internet research on hot flashes and natural remedies for them). I determined that the best supplements (based on indicated effectiveness and financial considerations) were the following (all capsules; one a day):
1) Licorice root 450 mgJudy started taking all of these that night. Additionally, she added another 400 IU Vitamin E to the 400 IU she was already taking (per various recommendations for hot flashes). The results were rather dramatic. Within the very first day, her symptoms were less intense. By the fifth day (two days ago), the hot flashes had totally ceased, with no symptoms at all (and remember, this was after about three years, and six months of more intense symptoms). She has had none, either day or night, for the last two days and today.
2) Dong Quai root 500 mg
3) Chasteberry (Vitex) Extract 200 mg (std. to 0.5% Agnusides 1 mg) + Chasteberry 300 mg
4) Potassium Citrate 99 mg
I know it is still early, and I'll update this as time goes on, to report whether this success continues, but it was such a remarkable change that I wanted to report it now. Generally, with natural supplements, it takes at least two weeks, and often as many as six, for the effects to really "kick in" (the exact opposite of quick-acting drugs, but without the side effects, too).
In such cases, it is important to know exactly what other supplements a person is taking, because the supplements work together, and are more powerful in tandem. It may be just one of the new supplements that is actually causing the change (everyone has a unique bodily system, and it is an exceedingly difficult and complex matter to isolate direct causal relationships). The trick with herbs and vitamins and minerals is to take the ones most likely, statistically, to have an effect. Then if it works, one can experiment by withdrawing one or more, in order to better isolate causation and effective remedy (and to save money too).
Judy had been taking the well-known (widely-used in Europe) menopausal supplement Black Cohosh root (540 mg) for at least two years, I think, if not more. And she had been taking Dong Quai before, as it was included with an iron supplement she took before we switched to Vitamin Shoppe supplements (and Dong Quai is itself high in iron). That may possibly have some relationship to her hot flashes worsening in the last six months.
Her routine supplements that she has been taking for some time (and that I also take, minus the depression supplements listed further below), are the following:
Vitamin A (25,000 IU; was 10,000 until a few months ago)
Vitamin B-5o supplement (all eleven B vitamins) three times a day (thus, in effect, B-150) [B5 and B6 are especially important for hot flashes; B vitamins are important for blood sugar and to counter depression]
Vitamin C (500 mg a day)
Vitamin E (400 IU; now 800 IU a day for hot flashes)
Calcium / Magnesium + Zinc (1000 mg / 500 mg / 30 mg; also good for psychological well-being [natural tranquilizer] as well as for bones)
Chromium (200 mcg) [crucial for blood sugar metabolism, especially for hypoglycemics]
Iron (28 mg)
Bee pollen (1000 mg) [energy]
Additional Depression supplements (these have, for six years, successfully replaced Zoloft [seven years' use] for mild depression):
L-Taurine (500 mg; amino acid; three times a day)
L-Tyrosine (500 mg; amino acid; three times a day)
GABA (750 mg; twice a day)
While I'm at it with the supplements; if anyone has stomach problems (I have trouble with spices and acid and maltitol), try Super Digestaway. I take one every day at dinner.
And to knock out a developing cold, starting in the throat, take Hyland's Sore Throat homoeopathic medicine (with belladonna). It worked for me over the weekend, to prevent a likely serious cold developing. Usually, it's like clockwork: I'll get the scratchy throat, then the sore throat, then runny nose, then phlegm further down, sometimes losing my voice for a few days, etc. But this supplement and tons of vitamin C appear to have zapped it before it got serious.