The Menopausal Journey: Flashes, Flushes, and Sweats!
Whether you call them hot flashes, flushes, night sweats, or power surges, I’m not sure if there is any other menopausal symptom that brings home the reality that this is, in fact, where my life is now, than to be overcome and overwhelmed with the woozy, tingly, red-face-inducing, waves of heat that make up a hot flash. For me, there’s the emotional part of the flushing—it’s unmistakable, hard-to-hide, uncontrollable, and downright uncomfortable; there is a vulnerability exacerbated by a society that so values youth. And, while I am not the slightest bit interested in remaining perpetually youthful, I do want to feel as physically sassy as I think I deserve at this age!
For those with more will power than me, I’ve been told that caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can trigger hot flashes. I definitely find that my cheeks get rosier after a glass of Syrah or when eating my beloved Thai food, but I’m just not willing to give them up! Instead, I’ve created a few coping recipes to keep life a little more tolerable.
Sage Citrus Cooling Spritz
Start by making a sage infusion and letting it cool: 2-3 teaspoons dried organic sage seeped in ½ cup hot water. Let cool to room temperature. Mix 3 Tablespoons organic Witch Hazel Extract, the sage infusion, and 4-6 drops tangerine, sweet orange or lime essential oil. Shake this together and store in a 4 oz. dark jar or spritz bottle. You can keep this in the refrigerator for extra coolness, carry it with you, or keep in in your desk drawer. I recommend keeping it out of direct sunlight. You can dab it on with a little cotton ball or spray when you’re feeling flushed. I actually rub it on my wrists and the back of my neck and it makes me feel cooler almost immediately.
Iced Tea Cooler
For ½ gallon of tea:
2 Tablespoons organic dried organic Sage or 1 cup fresh Sage leaves
1 Tablespoon organic Dandelion root
2 Tablespoons organic dried Red Clover
2 Tablespoons organic dried Spearmint or 1 cup fresh mint leaves
Mix all the herbs and put into a large infuser (or wrap in cheesecloth if you are using fresh herbs). Add to ½ gallon of cool water and let steep in the sun for a couple hours. Chill in the refrigerator or serve over ice. Add a wedge or two of lemon and enjoy.
Of all the herbs I’ve read about that are supposed to be helpful for coping with the hot flashes and night sweats that go along with menopause, sage is the one I like best. I can use it in cooking, teas, and just munching from the garden. It not only tastes good, but is also a cooling, calming herb for me. I use this Sage Vinegar as addition to salad dressing or when I sauté up some kale or other dark leafy greens (good for getting the Calcium we definitely need at this age). You could also take it by the spoonful or mix it into a beverage.
Coarsely grind or chop (I use an electric coffee grinder, but a blender would work great too) 1 cup of dried organic sage. Add this to a clean, sterilized pint jar. Pour organic apple cider over the sage and fill to the top. Cap the jar and put in a dark, cool place out of direct sunlight. Since you’ll want to shake this up at least once every day, don’t put it too far out of sight. I tuck jars I’m infusing into a dark corner on my kitchen counter so I’ll remember to shake them up. After about two weeks, strain the vinegar into another clean jar using cheesecloth stretched over the top of the infusing jar. Now, it’s ready to use and it should be good for about 6 months – although mine never lasts that long!
I try to soothe myself with the knowledge that this stage of the journey won’t last forever. There may come a day when I am a bit more seasoned and feeling a winter’s chill and fondly remembering the warm surge of a hot flash!
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This post comes to us from Kori, our Public and Media Relations Coordinator! A West Coast native, Kori is a seasoned nonprofit activist and community organizer. Having launched six adult kids, she spends her free time in her burgeoning organic and very urban “farm”—taming Heritage chickens, building top-bar beehives from reclaimed materials, baking, brewing, and preserving.