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Hot flashes are a common problem affecting women, especially around the time of menopause when the body prepares an end to the reproductive years. Hot flashes are characterized by sudden feelings of intense heat affecting the face and body, often resulting in profuse sweating. There are several available herbs for hot flashes that may help prevent or lessen the severity of these uncomfortable episodes. Some of the herbs for hot flashes include black cohosh, dong quai, and chaste berry. There are potential side effects when taking any herbal medication, and some prescription and herbal medications do not work well together; a doctor should be consulted before beginning any new treatment program.
Black cohosh is one of the most commonly used herbs for hot flashes. This herb is thought to help with painful menstrual cramps as well as the various symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes. Potential side effects of using black cohosh include nausea, dizziness, headache, and visual disturbances. This herb is not safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and should not be used by patients taking estrogen or with heart disease or high blood pressure.
Dong quai is among the more popular herbs for hot flashes as well. This herb may also help reduce anxiety, another common symptom of menopause. Dong quai seems to work best in women who have occasional hot flashes and may be less effective in those who experience frequent attacks. Dong quai hasn't been well studied, but side effects may include increased sun sensitivity and diarrhea; limited testing suggests these effects are rare, however.
Another of the more common herbs for hot flashes is chaste berry. This herb is used to treat both hot flashes and dizziness. Chaste berry also works to reduce estrogen levels while increasing progesterone levels, as these imbalances are believed to be the primary reason for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Unfortunately, this is a slow-acting herb, and it often takes several months of usage before any positive benefits are noticed.
Other herbs for hot flashes include motherwort and licorice root. Motherwort has been shown to decrease the frequency and the severity of hot flashes although it may take up to three months to prove beneficial. Licorice root is thought to reduce hot flashes by reducing estrogen and increasing progesterone. Caution should be used when taking licorice root, as large quantities of this herb have been shown to cause negative symptoms such as fluid retention or high blood pressure in some women. It is not generally recommended to take licorice root for longer than six weeks without medical approval and supervision.