Hot Flashes: 5 Tips for Considering OTC Supplements


If hot flashes are making your life unbearable, OTC remedies may be a solution to consider. Over-the-counter supplements can provide non-estrogen relief for women experiencing premenopausal hot flashes but, like anything worthwhile, it takes some patience and commitment. That’s not something people want to hear especially today when we’ve been conditioned to expect things quickly.  But for many women, the relief can be life changing without the worries associated with estrogen replacement therapy.

1. Before exploring the supplements available, it’s important to get into the right frame of mind. Unlike prescription medications, which primarily are designed to work in relatively short periods of time, over-the-counter supplements could be thought of as a healthy food choice to produce a desired outcome over longer periods of time usually in one to three months.  Knowing this sets you up for a reasonable kind of expectation, a reasonable outcome because otherwise you’re going to be disappointed. You may get a benefit soon or sooner but, my experiences is it takes one to three months to really see how you’re going to do with it.

2. You have to keep an open mind because with over-the-counter treatments some may work for your friends but not work for you and vice versa. Don’t be in a rush to judge whether or not something is working. Each individual is different so give it a chance. It may be helpful to keep a journal to record your progress.

3. Take only one over the counter supplement at a time. That’s the best way to find out what is working for you and what is not. Otherwise, you may get a benefit from one supplement but since your are taking several, you’re not sure if you would continue with one  and stop the others.

4. Be committed. In order to tell if something is going to work for you, you must be willing to keep a schedule and not miss a dosage. Over-the-counter supplements typically have a short half-life. Meaning most of them last, at most, 8-12 hours. I recommend taking them twice a day, about every 12 hours. That should work well to keep levels the highest and to show the benefits since that keeps some of it is always in your blood.

5. It is important to be realistic with the outcome. Your hot flashes may not go away 100 percent but, with diligence, may improve sufficiently enough to provide the relief you’re looking for. That might be the difference between feeling miserable and your symptoms being tolerable, and I think that is a very important distinction for you.

Once again, you want to set your expectations because it could take one to three months. You want to keep an open mind. It may not work for Jane but it may work for you perfectly. You want to commit to the process by not missing a dosage and taking them on time twice a day, taking only one choice at a time. And, you want to have reasonable expectations so that you’re not disappointed with the outcome if things are not perfect. This is perhaps going to be the difference between satisfaction and dissatisfaction. And ALWAYS tell your doctor or medical team about any supplements or herbal remedies that you add to your regimen.

Until next time, Dr. Mache Seibel

PS: Find more information of this type in My Menopause Magazine, available for the iPad in the Apple Newsstand.

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