Hot flashes – guarantee to send a shiver up every woman’s spine (well maybe not a shiver…). Symptoms of hot flashes include perspiration, flushing of the skin and a feeling of warmth spreading throughout the body, particularly in the head and neck. Many women describe a feeling of just wanting to shed their clothes as they are drenched with sweat. Afterwards you can feel cold as the flash subsides. For some women hot flashes can occur randomly, others experience them more regularly.
Probably the most common remedy for hot flashes is oestrogen replacement which needs to be prescribed by a physician or general practitioner. However, there are some risks and side effects associated with oestrogen replacement such as the risk of blood clots and strokes. Many women look for natural remedies for hot flashes and there are a number of candidates that are often discussed such as phytoestrogens and vitamin E.
Some women have noticed that when they have been taking magnesium supplements for reasons other than hot flashes that their hot flash symptoms reduced significantly (and often within a relatively short time) and a recent study has suggested that magnesium supplements my help relieve the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women who have breast cancer.
In the study (1)were around 20 women who were breast cancer patients. They were given various dosages of magnesium oxide supplementation for 4 weeks. They kept a diary regarding episodes of hot flashes and also given various questionnaires as a means of assessing how effectiveness of the supplementation .
Although the study was a small-scale study, the results were encouraging as the frequency and the severity of hot flashes decreased significantly. Symptoms such as fatigue, stress and sweating were recorded by the women as being appreciably lower.
The researchers hypothesised in the study that the magnesium may cause blood vessels in the body may become more stable (and hence less likely to dilate) or alternatively there was some interaction between the magnesium and the central nervous system.
If you are thinking about taking magnesium supplements for any reason including hot flashes then you should discuss whether it is appropriate for your particular circumstances with your doctor. As magnesium supplements may interact with other medications, then your doctor will be best placed to assess what level (if any) of supplementation you should take.
(1). Park H, Parker GL et at. “A pilot phase II trial of magnesium supplements to reduce menopausal hot flashes in breast cancer patients”. Support Care Cancer. 2011; 19(6): 859-863