Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wrap it up, I'll take it

I had such a great response to my post "Honeysuckle and Hot Flashes." Thank you to all who commented with tips, quips, advice, and commiserations. Basically, the honeysuckle and I are both screwed, but we have every chance of leading productive lives. Here's a wrap-up of what I've learned. It's kinda wordy, but you will not be quizzed on this lecture.

For the honeysuckle, several people thought it has a fungus, and I think that's right. And Desiree was spot-on when she asked if it faces north. It does face north, and I'm not sure how easy it would be to move it – or where I'd put it. It does well earlier in the year when there's more sun on it (as you can see in my blog background photo), but by August the sun has moved around and there's more shade. It may just have to live like Persephone/Proserpina and spend half the year in the realm of Hades.

For the hot flashes, I got several suggestions that I hadn't heard before, which prompted me to do more reading online – because you can always trust what you read online. I mostly looked at the Mayo Clinic website, the National Women's Health Network, and the US National Library of Medicine/National Institute for Health.

The general consensus is that herbal remedies have not been proven effective, but some women may find them helpful, even if it's just a placebo effect. There was a suggestion that sage can cause seizures or neural problems (!), but that might only be with certain other conditions. Vitamin E has had good results in trials, and paced breathing or yoga helps some women. Acupuncture has had mixed results (read here and here).

Some commenters noted that hormone therapy is better understood these days, and it can be helpful and safe in low doses and for short, well monitored periods. It sounds like it would involve some experimentation to find the right dose, and then how do you know when you can stop without bringing on hot flashes again? Same thing for antidepressants, another medication that can control hot flashes. Gels or creams might be easier, so I might look into that.

Sue talked about dietary changes to reduce hot flashes, including the obvious – chocolate, coffee, and wine (my three pillars – oh, no!), but also dairy. I did further reading on how bad dairy can be for humans generally. Ann recommended some podcasts at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, and there I learned that we should reduce carbs to control hot flashes, and we need animal fats, like dairy, to slow down carbs' metabolization!

What's a hot girl to do?!?!?

This week I went off chocolate, alcohol, and dairy (except butter on my toast) for four days, and I've only had a tiny bit of espresso in the morning to avoid a caffeine-withdrawal headache. I felt more energetic for a few days, but was still having "power surges." This morning (Thursday) I was dragging a little, but that's probably typical for the fourth alarm-clock day. This evening I went out for dinner with a cousin who was in town. I had some white wine, and no hot flashes until driving home later.

So here's my plan.

All things in moderation. (I'm a Libra – I like balance.) Some yogurt and cheese, less milk and ice cream, some carbs, less sugar, some espresso (it has less caffeine than drip coffee, and tastes better), wine and chocolate as needed to round off the rough corners of life. I'll keep taking Estroven, and I'm adding Vitamin E. Also, I want to find a yoga class.

I'm continuing with my usual tricks – lots of baby powder, fans at hand at all times, cold rinses in the shower, loose cotton clothes in layers, and when it's really bad I dab water on my neck.

But the biggest help is the weather! We've had a few cooler days, so I'm not always flashing like a roomful of paparazzi with Miley Cyrus. I feel like there's hope after our long, hot summer. If the Vitamin E helps a little bit, that'll be great – I'm not sure I want to do anything more right now.

I'm not making suggestions for anyone else. You need to make up your own mind and find out what works for you, after reading all the contradictory information.

If you stuck with me this far, thank you, and thanks to all who commented!



sabine said...

I nice fan, like Jan is using it, also helps. And moreover it looks fabulously and a bit mysteriously.

Melanie said...

Apparently many women in Japan are not tormented by hot flashes, whether by genetics or diet, I have no idea, but I have heard that green tea and tofu are beneficial in this regard... Huuuuge generalization here, but thought I'd throw this into the pot.

Judith said...

Good for you for trying some newapproaches. It is so hard to do, as you still have to live! And a life without that really classified as 'a life?'...

pastcaring said...

Sounds like a plan, Val! All of us have to find our own way, don't we? I've always wondered about HRT and what happens when you stop taking it - aren't you just postponing the inevitable? But hey, I'm not there yet, and who knows what choices I will make when I am?!
Hope the changes you are intending have some benefits, and that cooler autumn days make life a little more comfortable. Meanwhile, have a great weekend! xxxx

ann wood said...

Sounds like you have a good plan. This is hard and hope the heat gets turned down soon! I used to eat a lot of chocolate and caffeine. I do feel much better now without them....just a thought. It's so confusing out there with so many opinions and contradictions. I've tried to talk to my doctor about dietary questions and she doesn't have time and seems to know so little about nutrition.

blue hue wonderland

Tami Von Zalez said...

Course, when all else fails - go nude.

Suzanne Carillo Style Files said...

I like the nude suggestion : )


Tamera Wolfe said...

ROFL at the go nude suggestion!! THIS is why I love cold weather--you cna always put on more clothes to get warm. But when it's hot there is a limit to what you cna take off before you get arrested or scare small children and pets.

Louise said...

If you want to start really easy with yoga, I've used this site:

It consists of 12 poses that are supposed to help strengthen bones and reduce osteoporosis, so each pose is presented in several versions (from super super easy to textbook perfect form.) Simple to follow at home, and the whole routine takes 15-20 minutes.

I actually do my yoga around 3am, because that's when my menopause wakes me up. Instead of lying in bed fretting for 2 hours before falling back asleep, I at least get a little stretching in and feel virtuous. YMMV.

Louise said...

Oh, and my hot flashes are pretty mild, so maybe the yoga can take credit for that?

Mrs. D said...

Oh dear... I don't have anything to suggest I'm afraid as I haven't reached that stage yet. I hope you find something that works for you. Lots of love <3

Dawn Elliott said...

I had a friend who kept h-flashes away by just taking 800 IU of Vitamin E daily...will you let us know how it works? I can't cut out all the good things in life...we just have to practice moderation! Then there's the part about how "the experts" don't we really have to find our own way to some extent, anyway!