Monday, August 29, 2011

Help for Hot Flashes!—updated

Available at most health food stores and online
**Please read the two updates below. This was originally written in 2011 when I was in perimenopause. Now in 2020 I have graduated to full menopause or what some call post-menopause.

I want to share with you an over-the-counter product that has worked wonders and has almost completely alleviated my hot flashes: Transitions by a company called Pure Essence Labs. Note: there are actually a few products on the market called “transitions. This one by Pure is the only one I can speak about and boy, do I want to speak about it! Here is my story:

I started full-on hot flashes on an unassuming day in July. After a few days of these constant surges, I decided to count to see how many I had in a day. The day I took note, I counted 12. I’m assuming I’d been having anywhere from 10-15 hot flashes per day. Since it was a new phenomenon for me and because I’m completely intrigued about all things that go on with this body, I didn’t do anything to stop them; I just marveled at the changes taking place. If I wasn’t working or driving or doing something that required my attention, I would literally sit back and just fully experience the hot surge of energy (and heat and sweat) exploding throughout my body.

Then it got old. And cumbersome, and at workdifficult. I was out with a girlfriend, who also just celebrated 50, and she told me about Transitions and how it has helped her through her own hot flashes experience. Apparently a sweet older woman at a health food store had told her about it and also added she wished she’d known about this product when she was going through “the change.” It helped my friend and by golly, I was at a point that I was willing to try anything.

I want to interject that there are many products available meant to help “treat” hot flashes. Black cohosh is probably the most widely used herb for perimenopausal symptoms. This herb is most likely in any and all hot flash treatment products, and it is in Transitions (along with many other herbs). I’ve known clients who took straight black cohosh with little results. Many times it is herbs in combination that render the most effective results.

Back to my story. So I immediately went out and got my bottle of Pure’s Transitions. I took it exactly as recommended (two capsules daily; one in the morning and one at night), and I prayed. Well, not really, but I was hopeful for sure.

My friend had told me it could take 2 weeks to feel the effects; I swear the next day my hot flashes seemed different—less than they had been. I was encouraged. But it wasn’t until almost exactly 2 weeks after I started taking Transitions that I noticed the most powerful results: my hot flashes, one day, had all but stopped. I would say they had gone down to warm flashes or really just a warm sensation, not really a flash at all. And now, 4 weeks after taking this product, I go through the day and don’t notice any heat at all. And if I do, it is 98% less than what I had been feeling with the real hot flashes.

So, I had to pass along this information about my experience to you. Herbs work differently on different people so I cannot guarantee this particular product will work for you, but why not try it? Take as directed, and see if you too don’t have a complete eradication or at least a big reduction in your hot flash activity. As I mentioned above, at first I was intrigued by the flashes, but really—who needs them?!?

Best wishes to you on your ever-changing hormonal journey. We perimenopausal gals gotta stick together!
(Thank you, Nancy. You saved me with this tidbit!!!)

UPDATE: 10/2014
It’s true, Transitions really helped me transition into perimenopause. It helped for almost a year. Then my hot flashes and other symptoms just got too severe and I sought medical intervention. I started with an estradiol hormone patch in October 2012. Wow, what a relief! The patch really helped to once again calm the crazy hot flashes, which were really interfering with my life on a daily basis. As I said back then, I felt like a crazy person.

Note: Not all women suffer from extreme symptoms, like hot flashes, while they are going through the change.” I would love to be one of those women, but I was the kind who had severe symptoms that needed outside help. Ive heard that if you had severe menstrual symptoms and periods you are more likely to have more severe perimenopausal symptoms as well. I definitely fit into this category.

Because I didn’t like having a patch on my skin with no control over the hormones I was getting, I looked for another doctor who was more in line with what I felt I needed. And I found one. She did extensive blood work, something the previous NP (nurse practitioner working under an MD) did not do. I started with estradiol cream and subliminal progesterone pills. She also had me taking some other bioidentical hormones (aka BioHRT), but after a few months I was down to just estradiol and progesterone.

Now, after almost 2 years on bioidentical hormones, I started experimenting with reducing and on some days eliminating these 2 hormones from my daily routine. The experiment is proving Im not quite ready to go off hormones completely. After a week the hot flashes started to get almost intolerable (again), sogive me the hormones!

I am in full menopause now (no more periods) and although I have read and understand the benefits of taking BioHRTfor lifeIm not sure what I will do long-term. Along with slowing down on the bioidenticals, I am taking more Ayurvedic supplements that help to support my organs and hormonal production.

This is a process, for sure. The jury is not out yet on how I will move forward with BioHRT, but it is a relief to know it is available to me (and you) if I feel I need to continue down that road.

After truly disliking (immensely) putting on the estradiol cream, my doctor at that time was working through a compounding pharmacy in Golden CO that had a patented process for taking bioidentical hormones in pill form. They say this process bypasses the liver so there isn’t an issue with toxicity over time. I spoke with one of the pharmacists and asked a lot of questions and I felt confident I wouldn’t be doing my body harm by taking pill-form hormones.

So, for the last many years, I now take a very low dose of estradiol (the least I can without experiencing hot flashes) and progesterone each evening. This, I am happy to say, after several years of experimentation, has brought me to a happy place. I definitely do not have the levels of hormones I did 30, 20 and not even 10 years ago, but I feel confident I am not doing any harm and in fact am probably doing a lot of good for my body as it ages. But the real reason I take these hormones is to keep the hot flashes away!

For more information, see:
I hate to say it, but this is pretty accurate.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

NO SWEAT: What happens when sweat dries on your skin?

Rinse the sweat off your face immediately after exercising.
Any time you sweat, especially from exercising, your skin is eliminating acids and toxins from your body. These are things you don’t want to allow to dry on your skin.

When you are exercising outside, you’re wearing sunscreen (I hope). So it’s not only sweat that is going to dry on the surface, but also sunscreen. This can not only cause irritation but congestion as well. It is imperative that you don’t let this mixture dry on your face. If you do, all the toxic junk sitting on your skin’s surface will cause the potential for irritations, tiny bumps (I see this a lot), and small whiteheads under your skin. These problems commonly show up where the sweat drips—the sides of the neck, under the chin, and around the temples.

If you are away from home but have access to water, great. Splash-rinse your face until you have removed all the sweaty residue off your skin. Then as soon as you get home, be sure and do your Basics routine (cleanse, tone, hydrate). Many of my active clients see a definite improvement in their skin after they use this splash-rinse method.

Sometimes you may be out exercising where you don’t have access to water, yet you’ve got to get the sweat off your skin. If you cannot rinse your face, I am going to propose something to you that is not a great practice by any means, and certainly is not the optimum. However, the way I see it, it’s the lesser of two evils.

After exercise that causes sweating (especially heavy sweating), and before the sweat starts to dry on your skin, use an individually wrapped moist towelette, facial cleansing cloth, or baby wipe tissue. Go over your entire face and neck, the back of your neck, and especially the sides of your neck. Keep in mind, this is only temporary until you get home where you can properly clean your skin with good products. These towelettes can have harsh ingredients in them (sometimes alcohol), but I believe it is better to get all the sticky, sweaty junk off your skin rather than let it dry on your face.

You will almost always have access to water, which is the best way to get the sweat off your skin. So the moist towelette route would be the least-preferred way to go. I am not advocating their use all the time or even frequently. But if you have no other recourse (other than letting the sweat dry on your skin), use a towelette.

Keeping bottled water in your car is one way to ensure you will always be able to splash-rinse after exercising. Even if you’re far from home (and your cleanser), at least you can get the sticky goo off your face and get home without causing the potential for breakouts. Keep in mind, you are rinsing everything, including sunscreen, off your face. Your skin, therefore, is totally unprotected. Running errands or otherwise being exposed to the sun is not recommended. Get home, clean your face, and apply sunscreen before going back outside.
UPDATE: 5/2015
Yonka (the product line I use) just came out with a waterless cleanser, which is something that could be used to remove sweat from your face instead of the facial wipes. I have many clients who have purchased the travel size of this cleanser to keep in their gym bags or cars (along with cotton pads) so when they are finished exercising they will have access to a good-quality cleanser right then and there. Obviously, this cleanser along with the baby-wipe method are just temporary fixes until you can get to your skin care products at home. However both methods will keep the sweat from drying on your skinand that is paramount.
For more information, see: