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Ingredients That May Help with Hot Flashes

Brittany Dick

If you’re a woman over the age of 40, you may be familiar with the feeling of an approaching hot flash. This common perimenopause and menopause symptom can be both unpredictable and fairly disruptive and can persist for 10-15 years during this transitional period.1

So, what do hot flashes feel like? You may experience a sudden feeling of warmth radiating throughout your body or notice an unanticipated “blushed” face staring back at you in the mirror. You may also find that you’re tossing and turning more during your sleep thanks to night sweats (aka—hot flashes that occur at night), followed by chills.2

With more than 70% of perimenopausal and menopausal women experiencing hot flashes, this can be considered one of the more common symptoms women struggle with during this time.3 The cause is typically fluctuating hormones, but their often benign nature doesn’t make them any more comfortable.

While hormone replacement therapy is one option for combatting this symptom, some women are interested in finding hormone-free hot flash relief options. Here, we’ll explore a few foods and ingredients that have been studied for their potential to offer relief from one of the more common symptoms of menopause— hot flashes.

Foods That Can Help with Hot Flashes

Can you eat your way to hot flash relief? And, if so, what are the best foods for hot flashes?

Some research says dietary changes can help manage this symptom. One study showed that eating small meals more frequently could help to maintain stable blood glucose levels (a key ingredient in maintaining hormonal balance) which in-turn, may help reduce hot flash severity.4 But experts claim what you eat matters, too. A few commonly studied foods for hot flash relief include the below.

Fiber-Rich Foods

A diet rich in fiber can help to regulate hunger, blood sugar, and digestion, and may also help support your gut health.5 For women navigating menopause, there may also be other benefits. Fiber additionally has been shown to help prevent insulin spikes, which have been associated with hot flashes.6

High fiber foods include:7

  • Legumes (lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans)
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Incorporating high fiber foods gradually into your diet may help to prevent bloating and gas that is often associated with a sudden increased fiber intake. Additionally, drinking more water as you increase your fiber intake may help prevent constipation.8

High Protein Foods

In the world of nutrition, protein gets a lot of attention— and for good reason. Protein is an essential macronutrient that not only helps to build and maintain muscle mass, but it also works to support a healthy hormonal balance.9 In clinical studies, it’s been shown that postmenopausal women who consumed higher amounts of protein also maintained better physical function, which is an added bonus for those also eating more protein for hot flash relief.10 Experts recommend prioritizing protein intake at each meal, as well as incorporating protein-rich snacks throughout the day.11  

Animal-based protein sources include:12

  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.)
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs

Vegan protein sources include:13

  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Edamame
  • Lentils
  • Beans

Foods Containing Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds with a similar chemical quality as estrogen, the key hormone that fluctuates, then dramatically declines during menopause.14 Research on phytoestrogens has been promising, albeit inconsistent, with some evidence pointing to their ability to provide some hot flash relief.

One publication demonstrated that 10-20% of Asian women report experiencing hot flashes, while 70-80% of North American women reported them— with speculation that a high soy diet rich in phytoestrogens may contribute to some hot flash relief.15

Different types of phytoestrogens include:16

  • Soy
  • Lentils
  • Legumes
  • Flaxseed
  • Some vegetables
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Bean sprouts

It’s worth noting that because phytoestrogens have a similar chemical makeup to estrogen, and may act like a hormone in the body, women with a history of breast cancer should consider speaking with their healthcare providers before drastically increasing their consumption of phytoestrogen-rich foods for hot flash relief.

Herbal Hot Flash Relief

While research is ongoing, scientists have also explored the effects of several herbal supplements and ingredients for hot flash relief. Below are some of the most common.

Swedish Flower Pollen

Among all of the herbal ingredients on this list, Swedish flower pollen seems to be among one of the most promising in clinical trials. Swedish flower pollen is a pollen extract that originates from several pollens and pistils of grasses in the Poaceae family of plants.17 In one study, a supplement containing this type of pollen extract was shown to significantly reduce the severity of hot flashes by up to 65% in trial participants.18 It’s hypothesized that the pollen played a role in helping to regulate the body’s natural thermostat, working through a serotonergic pathway (serotonin plays several roles in the body, including helping to regulate body temperature19)  providing effective, hormone-free, hot flash relief.

While Swedish flower pollen capsules are available online and in some health stories, there are a few well-studied supplements containing Swedish flower pollen as a key ingredient available on the market today. Relizen®, by Bonafide®, contains a proprietary blend of this ingredient, and is currently recommended by a growing network of over 7,400 doctors – learn more about it here.

Black Cohosh

Native to North America, black cohosh (Actaea racemosa or Cimicifuga racemosa) is a member of the buttercup family.20 Produced from its roots and stems, black cohosh is a common ingredient sold as a supplement in the form of powdered herb, liquid extracts, and extracts in capsules.21 Several studies have been performed to observe the effectiveness of black cohosh as a form of hormone-free, hot flash relief, but overall results have been inconclusive.22

Research shows that black cohosh may increase the effects of estrogen in certain parts of the body, while decreasing its effects in others – because of this, it’s not officially classified as a phytoestrogen.23 Despite mixed study results in trials, some women have reported that black cohosh has served as a helpful supplement in combating hot flashes.24 

Red Clover

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is another phytoestrogen-rich substance derived from an herbaceous flowering plant in the legume family.25

Studies on the efficacy of using red clover for menopausal symptoms have also shown inconsistent results. One study found that red clover may decrease the frequency of hot flashes, especially in those with severe symptoms.26 Another trial observed a 73% decrease in hot flashes among women who took supplements containing red clover for three months.27 Research on red clover is still ongoing, and due to conflicting evidence, there’s no final consensus on whether or not it provides definite hot flash relief.

Evening Primrose Oil

One of the more popular menopause symptom remedies available is evening primrose oil. This oil is extracted from the seeds of the evening primrose plant (Oenothera biennis), is rich in omega-6 fatty acids and impacts the creation of hormone-like substances in the body, called prostaglandins – it may also have anti-inflammatory properties – which is why it’s believed to help ease menopausal symptoms, like hot flashes.28, 29

Some clinical studies claim that using evening primrose oil (used either topically or taken by mouth) could help to ease a variety of menopause symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats.30 One study demonstrated that evening primrose oil was effective at reducing the severity, frequency and duration of hot flashes in postmenopausal women when taken twice daily.31 Other studies and publications, however, have shown that more research needs to be done in order to qualify how effective herbal solutions, including evening primrose oil, can actually be for managing menopause symptoms.32 Regardless, if you’re considering this remedy, be sure to check in with your healthcare provider first.

Consult With Your Healthcare Provider

Unfortunately, supplements on the market are unregulated by government agencies. It’s important to not only do your due diligence in searching for trusted brands with a positive track record, but to also consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating any new supplement, ingredient, or food into your diet for the purpose of hot flash relief.

A provider who is familiar with your medical history can help narrow down the best options for you and go over any potential side effects or negative interactions that could occur with other medications you currently take.



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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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