How to Treat Hot Flashes with Acupuncture and Acupressure
What are Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are the number one symptom women experience during the transition to menopause. Menopause is the natural time when menstruation becomes irregular and then stops. A reduction in estrogen levels as a one enters menopause affects the ability to regulate body temperature. Every women goes through this and many experience hot flashes.
The sudden feeling of warmth in the upper body, especially the chest, neck and face, often indicates a hot flash. Occasionally your skin may redden and you may sweat. If this happens while you're asleep they are referred to a night sweats and may interrupt your sleep.
What Should I Do If I Think I'm Getting Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes affect Black and Hispanic women longer than white and Asian women.
The earlier in life hot flashes start to occur the more likely a woman is to experience them.
Try to observe what causes your flashes to happen, when they occur and what symptoms you have. Keep a simple diary with times, dates and triggers.
Sometimes simple changes to lifestyle or diet can help alleviate mild symptoms.
If you have moderate to severe symptoms, a broad range of approaches may help.
The combination of Acupuncture, Acupressure, Paced Breathing and Diet can all help manage hot flashes.
Hot Flash Symptoms
The following symptoms may occur during a hot flash:
A sudden sensation of heat traveling through your chest, neck and face
Red, flushed skin
Perspiration, typically on your upper body.
Once the hot flash subsides, you may feel a chill
Feelings of anxiety
Hot Flash Frequency and Duration
Women report a range of hot flash frequency and duration.
Hot flashes can occur anytime during the day and night, even awakening you from sleep.
They can be mild or strong and disruptive.
While there is some variation, most women who experience hot flashes have them on a daily basis.
Unfortunately hot flashes typically affect a women for more than seven years.
Fortunately hot flashes are treatable using alternative medicine.
Remedies for Hot Flashes
Often hot flashes are treated with hormonal replacement therapy, however many women would prefer to take a more natural approach that has far fewer side effects.
Acupuncture, acupressure, paced breathing and diet can all help manage hot flashes.
Commonly used acupuncture points for menopause and hot flashes:
Depending on your specific symptoms and the state of your overall health your acupuncturist will select the best points to use for your situation.
Du 20 or (Governing Vessel 20)- Located on the top of the head, midway between the ears. This point helps clear the spirit and rebalances the yin and yang elements of the body.
Urinary Bladder 23 (UB 23) - A lower back point that is level to the second lumbar vertebra. This point invigorates the kidney system and nourishes kidney essence. It is often used to strengthen the lumbar region and the knees.
Kidney 3 (Ki 3) " In the depression between the inside ankle bone and the Achilles tendon, level with the tip of the ankle bone. Kidney 3 invigorates and strengthens the kidney system and regulates the uterus.
Kidney 6 (Ki 6) Located just under the inner (medial) ankle bone. This point is great at clearing (deficiency) heat. It also calms the spirit to help with insomnia and nightmares.
Kidney 7 (Ki 7) " Located approximately 2 fingers breadth above Kidney 3. It is used to treat hot flashes and night sweats.
Heart 6 (HT 6) This point is particularly good for night sweats.
Spleen 6 (Sp 6) - Located about 4 fingers breadth above the tip of the inside ankle bone in a depression. (see video on how to locate Spleen 6) This is one of the most influential points for women's health. It strengthens the spleen, resolves damp, promotes the smooth flow of Qi, strengthens the kidneys, nourishes blood and yin, benefits urination, regulates uterus and menstruation, moves and cools blood, relieves pain and calms the mind.
Ren 6 or (Conception Vessel 6) This point is located about 2 inches below the belly button. It nourishes yin and balances yin and yang. Combined with SP 6 it treats palpitations.
Acupressure at home:
HOW DO YOU USE ACUPRESSURE?
Set aside several minutes.
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
Relax, close your eyes, and breathe deeply.
Place a thumb or finger on the acu point and gently massage in a circular motion
Begin with gentle pressure and increase to firm, deep pressure for 1-10 minutes in a small rotating or up-and-down movement.
Kidney 3 (Tai Xi). Located at the midpoint between the prominence of the inner ankle bone (Medial Malleolus) and the Achilles tendon on the inner ankle.
Kidney 6 (Tai Xi). Located approximately a half inch below the prominence of the inner ankle bone.
Spleen 6 (Shan Yin Jiao). Located 3 inches (about the width of 4 fingers) above the prominence of ankle bone (Medial Malleolus) just behind the Tibia.
Heart 6 (Yinxi). Located on the radial side of the tendon of the flexor carpi ulnaris, approximately a half inch from the wrist crease.
Acupressure, dietary changes and Paced Breathing are great compliments to acupuncture for relieving hot flash symptoms.
Deep, slow breathing from your diaphragm can help.
Typically you take about 12 to 14 breaths a minute and while Paced Breathing you take only 5 to 7 breaths a minute.
The paced breaths are slow, smooth and deep enough to move your diaphragm, the muscular wall located beneath your lungs, as you take full, deep breaths. Sometimes this is referred to as "belly breathing".
Try inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth.
Paced Breathing aims to reduce the stress chemicals your brain produces.
While it seems simple, Paced Breathing can take some practice to perfect. Using a Paced Breathing App (Breath Ball for example) can help with timing and consistency.
Things to consume:
Plant estrogens, such as isoflavones, are thought to have weak estrogen-like effects that may reduce hot flashes.
Soybeans, chickpeas, lentils provide the best plant-based estrogens. (LINK TO RECIPES??)aduki beans, black beans, kidney beans, lima beans, mung beans, fish and seafood (except shrimp and prawns), beef, duck, goose, pork, rabbit, chicken and duck eggs
Ground/crushed flaxseed, grains, beans, fruits, red clover and vegetables may also help.
fluids, especially water, mint, chamomile, lemon balm, hibiscus, rose hip and chrysanthemum teas.
cucumber, celery, seaweed, mung bean soup, duck
Nuts and seeds: coconut (coconut oil, coconut milk, unsweetened fresh or dried coconut), sesame seed, black sesame seed, walnut
Things to avoid:
Minimize eating spicy foods
Don't smoke tobacco
Significantly reduce consuming caffeine and drinking alcohol
At EVAM we regularly suggest that our patients treat themselves with acupressure between visits to our clinic. Many patients find the few minutes it takes to stimulate several pressure points is relaxing and helps maintain the benefits of their regular acupuncture treatments. Paced Breathing in both the morning and evening also contributes to reduced stress levels.
Our community clinic is dedicated to helping patients maintain their heath through proactive treatment and ongoing maintenance protocols as well as treatments focussed on more acute problems. Self-administered acupressure is a proven complement to acupuncture. Please feel free to contact us at EVAM to schedule an appointment with one of our wonderful practitioners.