If you’re a woman in midlife, it may seem as if your hormones are on a roller-coaster ride. Common complaints of middle-aged women include hot flashes – those sudden hormones rushes that can leave you dripping wet. Coffee and alcoholic beverages may trigger these annoying sweats, reports Christiane Northrup, M.D., who is an expert in women’s health issues. Some herbal teas, however, may help you stay cool and dry.
Native Americans began using black cohosh to relieve hot flashes centuries ago, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Using this root for menopausal symptoms also has scientific evidence to back up its use. In a small study published in 2006 in “Cancer Investigation,” women who took black cohosh extract saw the number of daily hot flashes reduced by half, while their weekly hot flashes were reduced by 56 percent. The UMMC suggests that you bring 34 ounces of water that has 20 grams of black cohosh to a boil and then steep it for 20 to 30 minutes. Drink 3 cups daily. The UMMC warns, however, that black cohosh tea itself may not be as effective at reducing hot flashes as black cohosh extract. The UMMC further advises that women who have hormone-sensitive conditions, such as breast, ovarian or uterine cancer, or uterine fibroids, should not use black cohosh tea.
Sage is another herb that people have taken for hot flashes, and a 2011 scientific study supports this use. In the study, which was published in “Advances in Therapy,” menopausal women who experienced more than five hot flashes a day received a tablet of fresh sage daily for eight weeks. The researchers reported that the women’s hot flashes decreased by 46 percent for mild cases; 62 percent for moderate-intensity cases; 79 percent for severe flashes and 100 percent for very severe episodes. To make tea from fresh sage, herbalist Susun Weed advises that you brew a handful of the leaves and stalks in boiling water for five minutes, then add some honey. Some women may have an allergic reaction to sage, resulting in inflammation or difficulty breathing; if either reaction occurs, discontinue use immediately and contact your health care provider.
When red clover grows in the wild, cattle graze on it, but this plant may also have some benefits for women who experience hot flashes. The UMMC reports that red clover contains plant isoflavones – like soy and flax seed – whose estrogen-like properties may help relieve your hot flashes. Results from scientific studies, however, have been inconclusive. You can brew a cup of red clover tea by steeping 1 or 2 teaspoons of the dried flowers in 8 ounces of boiling water for 30 minutes, and drink up to 3 cups a day. As with black cohosh, red clover might not be safe if you have a hormone-sensitive condition. Speak with your doctor before trying it.
Other Herbal Teas
On her website, herbalist Susun Weed reports that the leaf of the common dandelion helps strengthen the liver, which she calls, “the control center of hot flashes.” In addition to dandelion leaf tea, nutrition and health coach Jedha Dening recommends licorice root and red raspberry leaf teas, which are available in tea bags or in loose-leaf form in health food markets. Scientific evidence, however, does not support using these teas to relieve hot flashes. To be safe, speak with your doctor before you add any herbal remedy to your daily regimen.
- Christiane Northrup, M.D.: Hot Flashes
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Black Cohosh
- Cancer Investigation: Pilot Evaluation of Black Cohosh for the Treatment of Hot Flashes in Women
- Advances in Therapy: First Time Proof of Sage's Tolerability and Efficacy in Menopausal Women with Hot Flushes
- Susun Weed: Sage the Savior
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Red Clover
- Susun Weed: Menopausal Years, the Wise Woman Way
- GoodFoodEating.com: Hot Flashes: Remedies, Supplements and Natural Strategies
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Sage
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Red Clover