Fluctuating estrogen combined with elevated levels of follicle stimulating hormone and lutenizing hormone are believed to be some of the major factors behind menopausal symptoms. The hypothalamus functions as the body's thermostat. When the internal temperature rises during menopause, the hypothalamus overreacts in an attempt to normalize the temperature and initiates various physiological events that include blood vessel dilation and sweat gland response. When these episodes happen during the night, women commonly awaken soaking wet, chilled and panic stricken.
Many plants contain chemical compounds known as phytoestrogens that are similar in structure to estrogen but in a weaker state. Eating foods containing phytoestrogens allows the compounds to bind to estrogen receptors in the body, which tricks the body into stablizing and thus reduces menopausal symptoms. Soy-based foods are high in a phytoestrogen compound known as genistein. Some studies show that women eating soy foods were able to dramatically reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes and night sweats. For some, the symptoms completely stopped. Alternative medicine specialists recommend getting at least two servings everyday of soy milk, tofu or edamane.
While black cohosh is often recommended to reduce menopausal symptoms, the common cooking spice sage in combination with alfalfa have shown to be more effective during recent studies. Sage or Salvia officinalis used for three months proved dramatically effective for nearly 70 percent of the women participating in the research. Simply pour one cup of boiling water over two teaspoons of dried stage and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Strain and allow to cool. For best results, drink three cups of the tea daily. Sage extract is also available in capsule or tablet form. The recommended dosage for sage is 280 milligrams and 120 milligrams of alfalfa once a day.
Alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods are all known to increase the frequency and intensity of night sweats as does hot beverages or foods. These substances increase internal body temperature and metabolic rate while constricting blood vessels. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods entirely or restrict intake to six hours before bedtime. The phytoestrogens in fruits, vegetables and whole grains also help with symptom reduction. If a smoker, quit. The constricting effects of smoking also contributes to hot flashes and night sweats.
Cooling the temperature in your immediate environment also helps decrease core temperature. At night, turn down the thermostat, use a fan or turn on the air conditioner. Use cotton bed linens and nightwear as the fabric encourages air flow, allows body heat to escape and wicks moisture away from the body.
While lying in bed, focus on different areas of the body and make a conscious effort to relax various muscle groups. Start at the head and work your way down to the toes. Combine this exercise with controlled deep breathing.