Most women will experience it at some point in their life; unfortunately night sweats in women is not an uncommon problem, especially for women entering their menopausal years. There are a number of treatment options available, but for women who want or need to avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), natural remedies for night sweats in women may be helpful.
What To Consider
There are a couple of things to note before you start using natural remedies for night sweats. There is not a lot of scientific data to back up many of the claims of natural night sweats treatments; although that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t work. There have been studies, but many of the studies have had limitations (not long enough or questionable research methods) to prevent them from being conclusive. Another issue is that many studies of natural treatments for night sweats in women haven’t used a standardized, or consistent, dosage. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is, however, sponsoring proper studies on natural treatments thought to help relieve menopause night sweats as well as other symptoms of menopause.
It’s also important to note that what works for one woman may not work for the next, so it is often best to try a few different remedies or a blend of natural treatments to find the most effective mix for you personally.
Always talk to your doctor and check with your pharmacist before adding supplements or herbal remedies for menopause to your routine. Some natural remedies can conflict with prescriptions and some can negatively impact current health conditions. When used properly these natural remedies for menopause can provide good results, but when they aren’t used properly they can cause problems in some people.
Most of these remedies are targeted to help combat the hot flashes and night sweats menopause causes.
Black cohosh is probably one of the most well known and widely used of the natural remedies for night sweats and hot flashes. It also gets the most attention from the scientific community, although to date it has shown mixed results. Even though results from studies have been mixed so far, many women have reported positive results when using black cohosh to relieve low estrogen symptoms, including night sweats.
It was originally thought that black cohosh acted like estrogen in the body, which is why it was thought to be effective for certain symptoms of menopause. More recent studies, however, have suggested that it may not have estrogenic properties.
Overall black cohosh has a good safety rating, but there have been some reports linking it to liver problems. Based on the reports it is unclear whether or not black cohosh contributed to the liver problems. Because of these concerns, however, it is best to avoid it if you have a liver disorder or to stop taking it if you notice any signs of liver trouble including dark urine, abdominal pain or jaundice.
The North American Menopause Society has recommended short-term use of black cohosh, up to 6 months, for treating symptoms of menopause like night sweats and hot flashes.
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Dong quai has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat gynecologic health issues in women and now many women in other countries are turning to this alternative therapy to help treat hot flashes and night sweats. Unfortunately there isn’t much evidence to prove that it works effectively.
Part of the problem is that there are different preparations of dong quai and each of these preparations may work differently. Most labels don’t give much detail about how the supplement was prepared. This makes it difficult for the average consumer to find and use this natural remedy in a way that will provide effective results. Women working with a naturopath or someone who specializes in Chinese medicine may have better results though.
Women who are taking blood thinners like aspirin or warfarin shouldn’t use dong quai as it can interfere with blood clotting. It’s also not recommended for women with fibroids.
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Evening Primrose Oil
Among the popular remedies for menopause symptoms, including menopausal night sweats, is evening primrose oil. Evening primrose oil is high in an essential fatty acid known as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which aids in the production of prostaglandins. Because prostaglandins are involved in hormone regulation the increased production of these hormone-like substances are thought to help counter the effects of the hormonal changes during menopause, including sweating while sleeping.
Once again studies don’t necessarily back up this notion. So far studies haven’t shown that evening primrose oil is effective at providing help for night sweats or other menopausal symptoms, but because it is high in essential fatty acids it may still provide other health benefits.
Most people can tolerate evening primrose oil pretty well and it isn’t associated with a lot of side effects, however some people may experience gastrointestinal upset when taking it.
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Red clover, an herbal member of the legume family, is among the more popular natural remedies for hot flashes and night sweats, next to black cohosh. Red clover is thought to work for night sweats because it contains phytoestrogens, which are compounds somewhat similar to naturally occurring estrogen. It may also help protect against bone loss, which is common during menopause.
Studies on the effectiveness of red clover for night sweats are mixed, but many women have reported improvement when taking it to reduce low estrogen symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes.
Red clover appears safe for short-term use with few reports of side effects. There are concerns about long-term use, however, because the estrogen-like phytoestrogens may negatively impact breast and uterine tissue possibly increasing the risk of cancer. While there are no definitive studies of such a link, it is a concern.
Red clover should not be used during pregnancy.
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Phytoestrogens are commonly used for menopause night sweats treatment. These estrogen-like compounds may be able to reduce hot flashes, night sweats and some other symptoms of menopause by mimicking the action of estrogen and creating a weak estrogen response.
Because of concerns about using HRT some women are turning to phytoestrogens as an alternative therapy to help with menopause symptoms. Phytoestrogens can be added to the diet through supplements, like soy extracts or red clover, or through diet, by eating foods high in these compounds. Foods high in phytoestrogens include soy foods (tofu, tempeh, soymilk or edamame), flaxseed as well as other beans and legumes, but these compounds are also found in whole grains and many vegetables.
The use of phytoestrogens has been helpful for many women, but caution should be taken with this therapy as well. Taking phytoestrogen supplements short-term seems to have few effects, but when taken long-term it may create other issues and it may thicken the uterine lining. Eating more foods high in phytoestrogens may be the safer way to go if you have concerns about this.
Certain women need to be especially careful about using phytoestrogens. This includes women who have an increased risk of breast, ovarian or uterine cancer as well as women with uterine fibroids or endometriosis. Women who are on medications that can increase the level of estrogen in the body should also be careful.
Vitamin E is the one vitamin that has been used to reduce night sweats and hot flashes in women. It may also be able to help with some other common menopause symptoms, including dry skin and to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, which generally increases in menopausal women.
Vitamin E very safe and it may be able to provide some other health benefits as well. Taking it with vitamin C can help increase absorption.
Magnesium And Calcium
Magnesium and calcium aren’t really used as menopause night sweats remedies, but they can help promote better sleep and they are important minerals to include in your regular diet as you are going through menopause. Calcium is good to maintain bone health during this time and magnesium will help your body absorb calcium.
Taking a calcium magnesium combination about a half hour before going to bed can help induce sleep and provide a calming effect. It can also help reduce muscle pains that can disrupt sleep.
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Natural remedies used to treat night sweats in women are often different than natural remedies for night sweats in men because the cause of night sweats is slightly different, but there are natural treatments for both women and men that have been effective at reducing the severity or the occurrence of these uncomfortable sweats.
More and more women are turning to natural and herbal remedies for night sweats. Even though there isn’t a great deal of scientific data to back up these remedies, it doesn’t mean they won’t work for you. Many women have found them to be effective and have been able to improve their quality of life by using natural remedies for hot flashes and night sweats.
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